Help protect and encourage Michigan high schools’ student journalism programs

Last week, the Student Free Press and Civics Readiness Act was introduced in the Michigan Senate. This bill would roll back the troublesome Hazelwood standard in our state and protect student journalists at the high school and collegiate levels from unwarranted censorship by public officials. It also would protect advisers from retribution for supporting the rights of student journalists and protect schools from lawsuits over content students legally produce under the law.

The bill, Senate Bill 848, is likely to be the topic of a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 22. We need your help to pass this important bill.

Will you write to your state senator today to ask him or her to support this legislation? Find your senator here

This letter should not be long. Use our talking points and the suggestions below as a guide. (But make sure to put them into your own words. Form letters are an ineffective advocacy tool.)

We recommend your letter cover these points:

  1. Briefly introduce yourself (Example: I am a sophomore at East High School, where I work on the student newspaper; I am a teacher at Ridgemont High, where I advise the yearbook; etc.)
  2. Ask the senator to vote for the Student Free Press and Civics Readiness Act (SB 848).
  3. Briefly talk about the value of student journalism in your life or ONE of the other key messages found here

    . You might discuss the skills journalism teaches, including helping students to become a better writers, to get more involved in their school or community or to get more engaged in school. Journalism also helps build students’ self-confidence. Keep your letter focused on one main point – you don’t have to cover all the important reasons to support the bill in this one letter. Remember: Keep it short and simple.

  4. Include your full name, address and phone number.

If you send an email, start the email with the greeting: Dear Senator (last name)

If you send a letter via snail mail, address it using this format:

The Honorable (full name)
State Senator
State Capitol
PO Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Please send a copy of your correspondence to info@newvoicesmi.com.

You can learn more about this effort at http://newvoicesmi.com.

Please don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any questions or need some help with a letter.

Thank you for helping!
Jeremy Steele
MIPA Director
517-353-6761
mipa@msu.edu

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