New Voices in New York (2019)

The “Student Journalist Free Speech Act” was introduced in New York in January 2019. It is the second time the legislation is being considered.

The bill

The 2019 Student Journalist Free Speech Act is assigned bill numbers A.3079 / S.2297. The language in each is identical.

On April 30, 2019, more than 80 high school journalists, their advisers and other supporters traveled to the State Capitol in Albany to lobby lawmakers and held a news conference to bring attention to A.3079 / S.2297. Scroll down to “Recent News” to read additional coverage.

Education committee hearings in the Assembly and Senate have not yet been scheduled.

Get involved

  • Learn the basics about the New York Senate here, and the Assembly here.
  • You can make a difference by contacting your state representatives to let them know why you support A.3079/S.2297. Find out who your senator is are by entering your address into this interactive map. Do the same for your Assembly member here.
  • Thanks to everyone who joined us in Albany for Lobby Day on April 30 – details.
  • Download and share this flier about the Student Journalist Free Speech Act: A.3079 / S.2297)
  • Refine your thoughts with an FAQ/talking points, and other resources here.
  • Do what you’re most comfortable with – a phone call, email, letter, social media post to the lawmaker – or all four.
  • Follow and share content from @NewVoicesNY on Twitter.
  • Like and share posts on the New Voices of New York Facebook page.
  • Get looped in with volunteer coordinators to let them know about your efforts. And, please get in touch if you are or were a student journalist (or adviser) who was the target of censorship, intimidation or retaliation:
  • Enlist all your friends in New York to raise their voices in support of this measure, which ensures the basic First Amendment rights of student journalists and protects their advisers from retaliation.

Why New York needs New Voices

Endorsements

The Deadline Club – Society of Professional Journalists

You can see the list of national endorsers at the bottom of this page.

Recent News

Another Voice: Legislation is needed to empower student journalists, The Buffalo (NY) News, (5/16/2019) This article can exist because the First Amendment guarantees my right to participate in a free press. But in many public high schools in New York, I couldn’t enjoy those same rights … Student journalists have a right to tell these stories, just as their audiences have a right to read them. When the possibility of including controversial content is taken off the table, journalistic education is stunted and students are disempowered.

Bill would provide more protections for student journalists, The Legislative Gazette, (5/14/2019), Albany, NY The Student Journalist Free Speech Act does not allow the publication of content that is libelous or an invasion of privacy. Content that might incite students to break the law, violate school policies, or disrupt the orderly operation of the school is also not protected under the bill. Instead, the aim of the bill is to prohibit prior restraint by school administrators and to put the legal burden on school officials to demonstrate why content should be banned. The bill also specifically states that faculty who serve as advisers to student newspapers cannot be fired or punished in any way for assisting student journalists with controversial news stories.

Opinion: Protect the Freedom of the Student Press, (5/1/2019) Frances Lewis News, Fresh Meadows, NY We are an outlet that amplifies the voices of those with limited means of communicating the truth behind important issues … We are student journalists seeking definite protection for our natural rights, the ones Thomas Jefferson said we have in the Declaration of Independence that are outlined in the Bill of Rights.

New York students rally in Albany for freedom of the press – Bill would make it harder to censor student journalists (4/30/2019), Times Union, Albany, NY Representatives of the newspaper industry also support the bill, since they view it as helping to foster the next generation of journalists and as a needed free speech protection. “An imperiled press needs the fresh eyes and strong shoulders of a new generation,” said Rex Smith, editor of the Times Union and chairman of the board at the New York News Publishers Association.

Guarantee free speech rights to NY students, (4/30/2019) Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY. Through school newspapers and other media, young journalists learn more than the basics of reporting and writing; they also learn the ethics of responsible journalism, media literacy in the era of false news, and citizenship in their school community and the wider world. Young people are in the middle of the nation’s biggest controversies – gun violence in schools, sex education and immigration, to name just three. Student journalists should have the freedom to report on their own lives without fear of censorship from adults who would rather not deal with controversial issues.

Capitol Pressroom: Student Journalism radio interviews, (4/30/2019) WCNY, Syracuse, NY. We heard from Corning Painted Post High School teacher and advisor Mike Simmons as well as two student journalists on how the bill would impact their student-led publications.

Editorial: Protect young journalists, (429/2019) Times Union, Albany, NY
A bill in the state Legislature would more narrowly define when school officials can suppress student expression.

Student journalism: an endangered species, (3/21/2019) Pelham Examiner.
Students in Pelham Public Schools deserve to know the goings-on of their community. Students and educators, elders and youths, we all have two things in common. We are all Americans, and we all have a right to the same fundamental freedoms.

Legislative Resolution Recognizes Student Press Freedom Day, (1-30-2019) New York Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo (D-123rd District)

Hundreds of issues of the Maroon-News stolen, members of swim team found responsible, (11-20-2018) Student Press Law Center

CityViews: NY Legislators Ought to Protect Student Press Freedom (4-26-2018) CityLimits.org

Corning students visit NY Capitol to push for free speech for school publications, (4-24-2018) Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton, NY

NY should extend free press rights to students, (2-15-2018) The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY

Give our youngest truth-seekers their First Amendment rightsDemocrat & Chronicle,Rochester, NY (1-25-2018) “Educators should not be preparing our nation’s truth-seekers by discouraging them from looking for it or prohibiting them from telling it.

N.Y.’s tongue-tied student journalists, (3-30-2017) New York Daily News

Getting the school newspaper edited and approved should not be so difficult, (5-18-2013) Democrat & Chronicle,Rochester, NY 

In 2018, the bill died in the Assembly Education Committee.