Walter Cronkite New Voices Act Returns to the Ballot in the Missouri Legislature

By Carson Ramirez, Videographer

On Feb. 6, the Cronkite New Voices Act was brought forward to the General Laws Committee in Jefferson City with the hopes of making it through the House of Representatives. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Craig Fishel this year. Fishel, high school journalism advisers, and some journalism students went to the capitol building to testify in favor of the bill.

“One thing I don’t love is students, just like me, getting censored by their administration and being told what they can and cannot report on,” said Jack Rintoul, Editor-in-Chief of the Kirkwood Call, during his testimony. “I am lucky because at Kirkwood we have an administration that trusts us and gives us the right to pursue the stories we wish to pursue, however other students in Missouri are not so lucky.”

The purpose of the New Voices Act is to no longer allow school administrations in Missouri to censor the stories that can be published in High School journalism productions. The bill would override the decision that was made from the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier case in 1988 and restore the Tinker Standard for high school media. This is that e fourth time that the bill has been brought forward in Missouri. The previous three times the bill has been able to make it past the House but got stalled in the Senate each time. Journalism advisers Mitch Eden, of Kirkwood High School, and Aaron Manfull, from FHN, have been to the hearings and advocating for the bill the past four years.

“We’re worried about a climate of misinformation, the way we can combat this is by educating students to be media literate and able to create media that is genuine and well thought out,” Eden said at the hearing.

Similar bills have been passed in 14 other states including Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, and Kansas, which all surround Missouri. Similar bills have also been proposed in more than a dozen other states.

“I would love it today if we could get the process started on Missouri finally passing this legislation and solidifying Missouri as the leader that it is throughout the country in journalism and education,” Manfull said.