Previously posted on SSRN.


Scholastic journalists across America have long provided vital reporting, commentary, and fresh perspective on issues of public concern to their readers. Never has this been more true than in the current age of dwindling print media, where scholastic journalists at both the high school and post-secondary levels are stepping in to populate what would otherwise be news deserts. Yet the Supreme Court’s decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988), allows school officials to censor both the content and style of school-sponsored media without offending the First Amendment. This essay traces the history of student speech rights from the high water-mark of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1968) to the current era of student press censorship and prior restraint under Hazelwood. The essay synthesizes the results of a growing “New Voices” movement around the country that has successfully enacted statutory protections for scholastic journalists in fourteen states to-date. It then argues for similar legislative protections in all states, using Georgia as an example, and introduces a model “New Voices” Act that draws on lessons learned from the jurisdictions that have already codified student press freedoms.