Posted: January 3, 2019
About the Student Press Law Center:
The Student Press Law Center (“SPLC”) is an independent, nonpartisan 501c(3) based in Washington, D.C. which works at the intersection of law, journalism and education to promote, support and defend the First Amendment rights of student journalists at the high school and college level. Founded in 1974, the Student Press Law Center has a legal hotline which serves thousands of student journalists and advisers across the United States. Thanks to a solid endowment, growing foundation support and generous individual donors, we also engage in training, advocacy and outreach to empower student journalists, promote the value of journalism education and spotlight the need to ensure legal protections for student press freedom through the New Voices movement.
About the New Voices Movement:
Last year, in Prosper, Texas, the principal banned all student editorials as a result of articles and editorials critical of the school administration. In Springdale, Arkansas, student journalists uncovered “irregularities” in the midyear transfer of six varsity football players between schools. They published a story which led to the paper being suspended and the story taken down. In Herriman, Utah, students discovered that a popular teacher had been fired because of inappropriate texting with a minor – something he had also been fired for at a previous job. Their school tried to censor the story before the students “went rogue” and set up an alternative publication to get the story out.
Due to the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision in 1988, student journalists in public schools in 36 states can currently be censored by school administrators for nearly any reason “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” This leads to censorship of important and well- reported stories which may make the school look bad (e.g., sexual misconduct by a teacher, health code violations in the cafeteria, financial mismanagement in the district) or which may deal with controversial topics which make school administrators uncomfortable (e.g., LBGTQ+ issues, teen pregnancy, drug or alcohol use). As a result, newspapers have been confiscated, papers have been defunded, and journalism advisers have lost their jobs for standing up for the First Amendment rights of their students. The New Voices movement seeks to change that.
New Voices is a non-partisan, student-powered grassroots movement for student press freedom. New Voices seeks to pass state-based legislation which protects the rights of student journalists to publish without censorship or prior review, and to protect their advisers against retaliation from school officials who are unhappy with student press coverage. We have already succeeded in 14 states – only 36 (plus territories) to go!! New Voices is a project of the Student Press Law Center and works in partnership with a wide variety of national and state-based partners.
SPLC recently received a new multi-year grant to expand its strategic work and support for the New Voices movement over the next three years through the New Voices Organizing Project (“NVOP”). Learn more about New Voices.
We’re looking for a dynamic, creative, experienced New Voices Organizer to help build this powerful movement for student press freedom.
The New Voices Organizer will direct the multi-pronged New Voices Organizing Project. We have committed people in place on the ground (students, teachers, parents, lawyers, professional journalists) ready to do what is necessary to protect student media. We need an Organizer who can work with these groups to train them in advocacy skills, connect the dots among groups to share best practices and strategies, help analyze opportunities, shape a national narrative, and provide support and ideas whenever needed. The Organizer will play a key role in catalyzing and coaching state-based initiatives in target states to ensure the success of New Voices. The Organizer will help facilitate activism among state-based group and will organize national initiatives to support the work of grassroots groups. The Organizer will be a key staff member of the small but scrappy SPLC team.
We are looking for someone with a passion for working with young people and who believes deeply in the importance of a free press. We are looking for someone who can organize effective campaigns, develop the leadership of students and young people while working inter-generationally, motivate people, and communicate to a broad range of audiences. We need someone with the right sense of when to push forward and when to step back to ensure that local groups take the lead. We need someone fun to work with who can help shape a national movement and deliver wins on the ground!
Essential Job Functions:
- Expand and support 5-10 grassroots groups per year in target states.
- Lead on-the-ground regional activist trainings and state-based activities which include training in effective advocacy, organizing skills, movement building, storytelling, and other related training modules.
- Advise state-based groups on their campaigns.
- Develop and manage relationships with journalism education organizations, regional and national press organizations, bar associations, and other partners.
- Develop, cultivate and empower NVOP advisory board
- Develop core program materials.
- Manage New Voices website and social media campaigns, in conjunction with SPLC staff.
- Develop and manage NVOP sub-grant program
- Manage NVOP intern.
- Monitor grant deliverables and deadlines and ensure effective and timely completion.
- Develop and manage the budget for the New Voices Organizing Project.
- Other responsibilities as determined by the executive director.
We will consider exceptional candidates who demonstrate a strong combination of the specific qualifications and skills described below.
- A commitment to student press freedom, the First Amendment and youth-led organizing.
- Proven experience organizing and winning campaigns and building momentum.
- Experience building social movements through community organizing.
- 2+ years’ experience developing and leveraging coalitions for campaigns.
- 2+ years’ experience developing the leadership of others (including supervisory and/or mentorship experience).
- In-depth understanding of state-based legislative processes.
- Experience leading and/or training diverse intergenerational groups.
- Strong writing and public speaking skills.
- Excellent ability to build strong and new working relationships through networking.
- Strong self-motivation, a “hunger” for campaign success and an eagerness to be challenged.
- Ability to make decisions in a changing environment and anticipate future needs.
- Energetic, flexible, and proactive; a good team player eager to collaborate with all colleagues across the organization, including the senior managers, the Board of Directors, and volunteer leaders.
- Ability to work remotely (while on the road).
- Ability to drive and with a valid driver’s license and clean driving record.
- Ability and willingness to work some nights and weekends.
- Ability and willingness to travel nationally approximately 25% of the time (including overnight and some weekends).
The position is full-time and includes generous health, vision and dental benefits. It is a three-year grant- funded position. Compensation will be commensurate with experience but within a range of $60,000 – $70,000/year.
Please send cover letter and resume explaining why you are uniquely qualified for this position to Diana Mitsu Klos, SPLC director of engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include examples of previous campaign and organizing work which you have led (examples of written materials, website screen shots and social media posts would be helpful.) Please be aware that SPLC will be conducting a routine criminal background check as part of the screening process. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
The Student Press Law Center strives to achieve excellence through a diverse and inclusive workplace that honors the unique talents and lived experiences of each person. The SPLC actively seeks people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join us in our work. As an EOE/AA employer, the Student Press Law Center will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, veteran or disability status or any other factor prohibited by law.