Journalism bill would have allowed students more free speech

Payton Antonio, Staff Writer

Payton Antonio: Letter from the Editor In Chief

Everyone hopes to live their life with freedom. To be able to say what is on their mind and from their hearts. But with people confiscating our rights as journalists, it is hard for writers to speak the truth. 

In a recent article in Civil Beat, public school journalists are currently facing backlash against themselves, their paper, and their advisor for stories that are even remotely controversial. Some students are also feeling worried that the stories they write could put the school community on edge. 

In the Hawaii State Legislature,  the “New Voices”  bill would have helped protect student journalists, but it didn’t get a hearing this year. Journalism advisors pushed for the bill, which would have given public school student journalists increased protection and freedom of speech. 

In Na Pueo over the past year, we wrote stories dealing with controversies such as vaping and bullying on campus. Even with these type of stories, we had support from administration who allowed us freedom of the press.

Student journalists often have to deal with prior review, which happens when administrators outside the newspaper staff demand to review the newspaper prior to the publication. My staff and I believed the bill would have helped protect other student journalists from censorship by prohibiting prior review. It would have also stopped retaliation against the student media advisor who’s defending student journalists and their work.

Although private schools such as Mid-Pacific aren’t governed by legislature, the bill would have had a ripple effect to private schools. 

At Mid-Pacific, we are lucky to have an administration that allows the staff of Na Pueo to write and publish our own stories. We also don’t have to worry about our stories being changed or even removed. This is due to the amount of support we have from our administrators who allow us to speak the truth without fear. 

I hope more people other than journalists realize that it is important for students to have a voice and be sure they won’t have it limited in any way, because we are the future and if we want to do something about it, we need to speak up now.