I founded the Tinker for Truth Project following my school administration's attempt to take control of our independent student-run journalism website (spoke.news) this past summer.
While we are able to successfully negotiate our way through a proposal, I realized how much history and precedent goes into maintaining journalistic freedoms, especially at the student journalism level. In addition to working on SPLC's New Voices Campaign, I was inspired to give back to the national community of student journalists by sharing my own experience and ideas.
I created the Editor's Guide to Basic Student Journalism Freedom as a kit for any student journalist looking for information on their rights. It is packed with policy, explanations of Supreme Court decisions, potential plans of action depending on different kinds of censorship.
New Voices is a student-powered nonpartisan grassroots movement of state-based activists who seek to protect student press freedom with state laws. These laws counteract the impact of the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision, which dramatically changed the balance of student press rights. New Voices supporters include advocates in law, education, journalism and civics who want schools and colleges to be more welcoming places for student voices.
In 2020 there is strong momentum, with New Voices volunteers active in more than a dozen states, and bills expected to be filed in many of those. Along with the 14 states that already have New Voices laws, that’s more than half the country.
As part of this campaign, I visited my local representative's (Melissa Shusterman) office, in order to discuss the importance of such a bill in today's climate.