Student journalists, advisers and free press advocates testified in Olympia in 2017 on a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, to protect free speech for student journalists. That bill cleared the Washington State House of Representatives last Friday. COURTESY PHOTO

Student journalists, advisers and free press advocates testified in Olympia in 2017 on a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, to protect free speech for student journalists. That bill cleared the Washington State House of Representatives last Friday. COURTESY PHOTO

House approves free speech protections for student journalists

  • Monday, March 5, 2018 1:23pm
  • News

For the Reporter

First Amendment protections for student journalists at school newspapers cleared a major hurdle after legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, was approved by the state House of Representatives last Friday.

The plan passed by a 91-6 margin in the final hour ahead of a key legislative deadline. It is supported by current and former student reporters and editors, journalism teachers and free press advocates.

“Students deserve the opportunity to pursue stories that are important to them and their peers without fear of censorship,” said Fain, who sponsored the bill after visiting an Auburn High School journalism class in 2015. “Practicing journalism in its full capacity better prepares students to pursue a career in journalism and equips them with the critical thinking, research and writing skills that lead to more engaged citizens.”

Under the legislation, student editors would be responsible for content, which Fain said was important and appropriate as they learn how to participate ethically and honestly in the conversations of a civil democracy.

The issue stems from a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier where the court held that school-sponsored student expression, including school newspapers, did not occur in a traditional public forum and therefore could be regulated. Despite the federal precedent, states have the right to provide greater protections.

Fain’s legislation passed the Senate last year and was approved again in January. It is modeled off of policies passed by North Dakota in 2015, placing the responsibility on student editors to determine content so long as the content is not libelous, illegal, or would disrupt the educational environment of the school.

After being amended the bill now heads to back to the Senate where it has passed twice before, including by a 43-5 margin in January.

More in News

Traffic advisory: 15th Street NE/NW and Harvey Road – SR 167 to 8th Street NE

Starting on Monday, June 25, through approximately Sept. 30, the 15th Street… Continue reading

Algona, Pacific host Community Yard Sales

Inaugural fundraiser set for Saturday, June 23

AuburnFest vendor applications available for August festival

Summertime festival returns to Les Gove Park, Main Street on Aug. 10-11

State Route 509 extension could cost city of Kent $2 million

Legislature requires local contributions

A chili cook-off, with purpose

Auburn High School kid chefs top the cops for best taste | PHOTOS

Auburn traffic advisory: night work at 15th Street SW at Perimeter Road

For the Reporter Starting Monday, June 18, through July 1, construction for… Continue reading

YMCA of Greater Seattle serving up free summer meals for Auburn children

The YMCA of Greater Seattle is offering a free summer meal program… Continue reading

Auburn’s Amateur Radio Field Day gets the call June 23-24

Event demonstrates science, skill and service

Joint American-Vietnamese War Memorial dedication set for Saturday, June 16

A dedication ceremony for the Joint American-Vietnamese War Memorial is 11 a.m.… Continue reading

Most Read