Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, former journalist turned Virginia delegate filed a bill, HB36, that aims to ensure First Amendment protections for student journalists, according to reports.
The bill aims to protect the rights of student journalists from censorship and student media advisers from punishment. Additionally, the bill also gives student journalists the right to freedom of speech in school-sponsored media even if the publication receives financial support or is provided facilities from the school.
“This legislation is important because it restores basic protections for student journalists throughout Virginia from unnecessary censorship by administrators,” Hurst said of his bill. “For too long, articles concerning subjects that are worthwhile and newsworthy have been blocked by those in power for less than legitimate reasons.”
However, schools can still intervene if they think the content produced is inappropriate or creates danger of any kind.
The Virginia Press Association supports the bill. VPA executive director, Betsy Edwards added, “They are, and so you wouldn’t want somebody to do that at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, you shouldn’t do it at the Commonwealth Times.”
Co-patron, Del. Danica Roem concludes, “This is about the institution of journalism. The entire reason we have that is to hold the government accountable first and foremost, and second to tell the story of people … based on reality, not what people want it to be but based on how it actually is.”