Pennsylvania student press looks to pass bill to protect the rights of student journalists


Mrs. Miller

Christopher Denkovich, member of the FHS Press, teaches Bulldog Barker Members about the New Voices bill on the April 4th team meeting.

Cooper Brien, Copy Editor

When writing an article, voices are the most important part, whether it is in the form of an opinion, a fact, a quote, or something else. Now imagine that you couldn’t put in all those voices. That might make you angry. Right now, that is happening to a lot of student writers. As of now, student writers and their advisers are trying to sign a bill called New Voices that will protect the rights of student journalists. 

“[The bill] protects student journalists because it prevents censorship from our administrator that allows us to say what we need to say to make an impact on the world,” Christopher Denkovich, Managing Editor of the FHS Press, said. 

With the passing of this bill, it would make Pennsylvania the 18th state to have passed the bill, the most recent being West Virginia. Other states that have passed it are Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and California. Some states that are currently trying to pass it other than Pennsylvania are Texas, New York, North Carolina, Hawaii, plus more. 

“A lot of times, students want to write stories that maybe they worry would evoke some sort of reaction from their classmates, teachers, or administrators and oftentimes end up censoring themselves, and this bill would empower those student journalists and protect their advisors when they are just doing good journalistic work,” said Mr. Aaron Fitzpatrick, Freedom High School FHS Press advisor.

It all started with the signing of the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” As of now, student presses all over Pennsylvania are working to pass this bill that will protect their rights so that students can write articles and neither the students nor teacher will get in trouble for doing so. 

“We have great student journalism happening all over the state, we have a lot of places in Pennsylvania, including in our community here, where our regional publications can’t possibly cover everything that is happening in that community. The Beaver County Times, for example, isn’t always able to cover what is going on with our school board. So a bill like this helps when the Bulldog Barker and the FHS Press are covering what our community does, and nobody else is able to do that. So we really need to make sure that the student voices are strengthened so those students are comfortable and actually truly covering their communities like they are supposed to,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.