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New Voices of Missouri is a movement to guarantee student journalists in the state the freedom to report without fear of consequence. Right now, there is no added protection against administrative censorship for high school or college journalists and their advisers, leaving them vulnerable to censorship for simply reporting the truth.

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“Missouri is the home of one of the world’s most famous and iconic journalists in Walter Cronkite, but also the home of the Hazelwood decision that saw the rights of student journalists suppressed. My hope is that we can reestablish Missouri as a place that supports the freedom of the press, and protects the rights of high school and college student journalists.”

Rep. Elijah Haahr

For two years in a row, the Missouri Senate failed to call New Voices reform legislation for a final floor vote despite nearly unopposed approval in the House and in the Senate Education Committee. The Missouri legislature adjourned May 12, 2017, on a contentious final day that saw dozens of bills die on the calendar, including

Rep. Kevin Corlew introduced a new version of the Cronkite New Voices Act, HB 441, on Jan. 5, 2017. The 2017 version addresses concerns raised during 2016, including clarifying that schools and colleges are immune from legal liability for the speech of their students in journalistic publications.

As in 2016, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill, and it received a favorable reception in the Senate Education Committee. But it never reached a Senate floor vote and died on the calendar.

The events of 2017 were a frustrating rerun of the previous year’s session.

The Walter Cronkite New Voices Act received widespread support at a hearing of the Missouri House Education Committee. It passed the House on March 15 by a vote of 131-12 and was sent to the Senate. The Missouri Journalism Education Association, the Missouri Press Association and the Missouri College Media Association all supported the bill.

To get involved or to learn about the movement, email newvoicesmo [at] gmail.com.