Bill to expand student journalists’ rights moving in Missouri Legislature

By MITCH EDEN / Talk is cheap. Free speech isn’t. And that is what Missouri lawmakers must decide as they contemplate the Cronkite New Voices Act currently making its way through the state government. If passed, the bill, sponsored by Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, would protect student journalists and advisers from censorship unless content is libelous, illegal or an invasion of privacy. The act would override a decision in 1988 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, which ruled that St. Louis high school students’ freedom of speech rights were not violated when the school’s principal prevented articles about teenage pregnancy and parental divorce from being published in the school newspaper.