Why New Voices Matters

Today is the digital age. Information, stories, lies and truth are published everywhere by everyone. Our senses are over exerted by the amount of information thrown at us at every moment. There are no ethics in sharing, no morals are taught; anyone can tell anything, anyone can post anything.

In contrast, student journalists, those who choose to be the commanding voice above the gossip and hearsay of social media, are threatened with censorship at every turn. Student journalists in both high schools and universities across the country do not even enjoy the same freedoms as parody accounts on Twitter or estranged family on Facebook. Educational administrations continue to threaten censorship over student publications all over the country and even here in Indiana. The grassroots organization, New Voices of Indiana, hopes to change that.

New Voices of Indiana is an organization of students and supporters from all across Indiana with the hopes of protecting student free speech rights in high schools and universities. The primary focus of the group is the New Voices Bill, a legislative act to help end censorship in schools and universities so the truth-sayers of tomorrow know how to effectively and responsibly use the publishing tools at their disposal.

The New Voices Bill has been crafted mainly by students from all walks of education from different areas of the state, with the help of the adult supporters, 12 students have created the bill and are perfecting it. The Bill is sponsored by two representatives, Ed Clere of New Albany and Ed Delaney of Indianapolis.

Students from across the state have come together to craft the New Voices Bill for various reasons. One thing they all have in common is their passion. Andrew Tapp of Southport high school has been involved in the writing of the bill.

“…the press is not censored and are allowed to publish stories like Woodward and Bernstein did with Watergate. However, it is not as if these fine journalists over the years have just walked into a newsroom and created Pulitzer Prize winning pieces. They were trained and had previous experience. For most of them, that came from working on a publication in high school and then continuing their work in college. Here’s the thing though, if students are censored and aren’t allowed to do good investigative journalism and report the news, how do we expect them to be able to do it when they’re older?” said Tapp.

Aside from the students helping legislatively, there is another group of students within the New Voices of Indiana helping to publicize and effectively cover the bill, the organization and the progress of both. Furthermore, these student journalists will sharpen their own reporting skills by working to effectively report on New Voices and its impacts. These 28 students are also from across the state and from many different high schools and universities.

One of the students working on the media team is Indiana University Southeast student Joseph Kauffman. Kauffman is the co-editor-in-chief of The Horizon, a pacemaker winning publication. When asked about the impact of student involvement in the New Voices legislation and New Voices organization, Kauffman responded:

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Kauffman. “and [student involvement in New Voices of Indiana] shows we take the bill and the freedoms it confers seriously enough to devote our time and efforts to its construction and passage. This isn’t something we’re just sitting back and receiving solely through the hard work of others, such as our advisers and professional journalists. This is us saying we believe in this, we deserve it, and we are ready for it with our actions.”

To be effective in the future, it’s necessary for student journalists to exercise and practice with their rights and freedoms. Moreover, student journalists are learning how to responsibly utilize the thousands of publishing tools before all of us. The student journalists of today are the voices of tomorrow. Well-informed citizens are the cornerstone of democracy; without proper protections, those who will inform and speak for the citizens of tomorrow suffer infringement with no voice themselves.

In today’s digital age, we don’t know truth from lie. We need well trained, well versed journalists to seek the truth and report what’s really happening in our world. We need New Voices.

Story by Lily Thompson

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