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Published: February 24, 2022
Student journalist involved in the New Voices movement across the country have a common goal of making their voices heard. These activists want other student journalists to be able to stand up for their voices to be heard and be able to #UnmuteYourself. Student Press Freedom Day is a day to celebrate, honor and promote the achievements and issues surrounding student journalists. To learn more about how to participate in Student Press Freedom Day read here or go to studentpressfreedom.org/
We all have a voice. Whether we use that voice or not is up to us. Students use their voices everyday from the classroom, sports or in the news room.
Student journalists use their voice to communicate to the public the news and events of the day. But the voices of student journalists across the country are being silenced due to a lack of protection on the state and federal level. Due to the ruling of the 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier case, student journalistic voices are not being protected by federal law. As put on by the Student Press Law Center, Student Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for student journalists across the country to come together and advocate for their voices to be heard. This day of action is also a way to celebrate the great work of student journalists nationwide.
This day of action which takes place on Feb. 24 is supported by the Student Press Law Center, based in Washington D.C. Andrew Benson is the Communications and Outreach Officer for the SPLC. Benson is a leading coordinator in organizing events for Student Press Freedom Day.
“Our theme this year is ‘Unmute Yourself’ and it’s kind of a play on the world that where in which we’re doing a lot of things virtually in through zoom,” Benson said. “We wanted to use that to spark some conversations and really remind student journalists that your voices are vital to ensuring that student press freedom is realized across the country and that your stories as a student journalists are what will compel our legislators and our lawmakers and leaders to take action.”
To help teach students to ‘Unmute Yourself’, the SPLC has hosted numerous events in which speakers and professional journalists teach students how to use their own voices for change. From workshops to virtual discussions, students across the country can take part in advocating for change year round and on Student Press Freedom Day. As Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, Hadar Harris is heavily involved with the advocacy of student journalistic voices.
“I believe that students have a lot to say and students have a lot of important things to say,” Harris said. “You have views on the world that older people don’t have. They’re fresh. They’re new and your voice and perspective is incredibly important.”
Student Press Freedom Day is not the only day to celebrate and advocate for student press freedom. The New Voices movement is a national campaign to advocate for New Voices laws in states across the country. New Voices laws protect the voices of student journalists and so far, 15 states in the U.S have New Voices laws. Currently, Missouri is considering New Voices laws as of January 2022. Even as laws are being considered, a lot of work still needs to be done across the country to get New Voices Laws in every state.
“Student Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for journalists locally, regionally, nationally, to tell the stories of why student press freedom needs to be protected and why the New Voices movement is so important,” Harris said.
To keep the voices of student journalists heard, it is imperative that students take action to demonstrate why their voices need to be heard. Student Press Freedom Day is a day that we can recognize the importance of all the student journalists do. But it is crucial for student journalists across the country and the world to not be silenced.
“Without student journalists, many stories that should be reported on and are important to students, to parents and to communities, can’t be told,” Benson said. “Students journalists are the closest to the students and the closest of schools and they’re the best storytellers and they’re the best spokespeople for it.”