HAWAII RESTORES AND PROTECTS STUDENT PRESS FREEDOM
News Release from Student Press Law Center, May 23, 2022
WASHINGTON — The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) congratulates the State of Hawaii on the signing of HB1848, the “Hawaii Student Journalism Protection Act,” restoring and protecting the freedom of Hawaii’s student media. Hawaii is the sixteenth state to adopt such protections, known nationally as “New Voices” laws.
The law, which passed both chambers unanimously and was signed today by Governor David Ige, ensures that public school and college student journalists alone determine the content of school-sponsored media including newspapers and yearbooks, and are protected from censorship except in narrow, well-defined circumstances. The law also protects student media advisers from retaliation for refusing to illegally censor their students’ work.
SPLC executive director Hadar Harris said, “At a time when content-based restrictions on education are being legislated around the country, Hawaii has instead adopted a law which values student voices, encourages discussion and debate of civic issues, and recognizes the important contributions of a free student press. We are thrilled that Hawaii has become the 16th state to restore full First Amendment protections to student journalists through a New Voices law. Many thanks to the devoted advocates and legislators who made this happen.”
The Student Journalism Protection Act remedies the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier decision, which created an ambiguous and subjective standard for censorship of student-produced school-sponsored media. The standard has meant that, in practice, student journalists can be - and are - censored for virtually any reason.
The law takes effect immediately. The Student Press Law Center will continue to work with Hawaii schools to ensure that the law is implemented and enforced properly, and that students and advisors are aware of their rights.
The new law was adopted after years of advocacy by Hawaii’s student journalists and advisers.
Cindy Reves, adviser of The Pinion at McKinley High School and the driving force behind the legislation in Hawaii, said: “I'm so proud of my students for their perseverance in testifying in front of committee after committee and teaching other staff about the bill and the legislative process. Many times, being the only newspaper adviser at my school can be a lonely job, but I was uplifted by the professional journalists, journalism educators, our teachers union, and my administrator who submitted testimony and supported me and my students in this process. Different students journeyed with me in 2020 until COVID priorities killed our bill in its final committee. So in a way COVID gave me a gift, the chance to watch a second group of students actively learn about and participate in the legislative process. I will cherish the memories of watching my students testify via Zoom or in-person. The empowerment they felt in that experience was palpable.”
Said Tiffany Edwards Hunt, adviser of University of Hawaii - Hilo’s Ke Kalahea and Keaau Middle School’s Greenwaves Gazette: “I feel so much pride for our state for making history. The fact that we now have one of the most progressive student journalism [protection] laws in the country is a testament to lawmakers’ high regard for a free press and democracy. Mahalo to the governor for signing this legislation and helping to send a message to all student journalists that the fourth estate is alive and well, and highly crucial to the bedrock of democracy.”
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GOVERNOR IGE SIGNS BILL EXTENDING FREEDOM OF PRESS PROTECTIONS TO HAWAIʻI’S STUDENT JOURNALISTS
News Release from Office of the Governor, May 23, 2022
HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige signed HB1848 (Act 24) into law today, establishing freedom of speech and press protections to student journalists in Hawaiʻi’s public schools and at the University of Hawaiʻi. Act 24 also supports student advisors from retaliation for refusing to censor student journalists.
“One of my administration’s goals has been to provide students with the tools they need to be successful in their chosen careers,” said Gov. Ige. “Providing student journalists with the same protections they’d have working in the industry gives them real-world learning opportunities and creates a more enhanced laboratory for learning.”
“I was honored that Ms. Cindy Reeves, the journalism teacher at McKinley High School, asked for my help with her student journalism bill. She has been working on this issue for a number of years and wasn’t able to get it passed. Her heartfelt commitment helped me understand how important this bill would be for student journalists at McKinley and across the state. I am pleased that the rights of student journalists are codified in Hawaiʻi’s law,” said Speaker Scott K. Saiki, introducer of HB 1848, Relating to Student Journalism.
“Our newest journalists should be encouraged to investigate, report, and opine on the issues of today without concern that the school administration will censor the content of their work,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, chair, Senate Judiciary Committee.
The new law goes into effect immediately.
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SA Editorial: Student journalists win
HSTA: McKinley teacher advocacy leads to student, teacher journalism protections under law