COLUMBUS – For the second straight year, a bill has been proposed in the Nebraska Legislature looking to support student journalism.
Senator Adam Morfeld of Lincoln recently introduced Legislative Bill 206, which would grant greater independence for both high school and college newspapers from school administrations. Last week, students and journalism teachers from across the state testified in favor of the bill before the Legislature.
Columbus High Newspaper editors Katie Anderson and Savannah Soltero have their own thoughts on the bill, believing that giving greater freedom to student journalists would be a very beneficial thing for the paper. Anderson says that members of the newspaper pitched article ideas about some concerns that were had regarding the move into the new high school, but didn’t publish any due to fear of administration pushback.
The bill would protect both students and journalism teachers from any punishment if they refuse to edit speech in student media at the request of school administrators. It would also protect school districts from any responsibility in both civil or criminal cases about the published work of student journalists.
Soltero says that as long as articles are being respectful and stating factual information, any topic should be allowed to be written about. Anderson says that there are some things at Columbus High that could be fixed, and that writing about those matters in the student newspaper would help create a discussion on what students would like to see changed.
The bill was introduced last year as well, but never got past the Judiciary Committee. The bill has also drawn opposition from organizations such as the Nebraska State College System, the Nebraska Association of School Boards, and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.
Groups that support the bill include Media of Nebraska, the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, and the ACLU of Nebraska.