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Nebraska advances new protections for student journalists

Posted at 9:58 AM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 10:58:45-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday designed to protect the free-speech rights of student journalists in public high schools while holding them directly accountable for stories that are libelous.

The bill won first-round approval on a 27-5 vote.

Sen. Adam Morfeld, of Lincoln, introduced the measure last year to prevent high school administrators from censoring articles they dislike. It would also prevent administrators from faculty advisers who defend a student’s right to publish.

The bill also makes clear that school districts can’t be held liable for articles written by students. But students who write a libelous article could be sued.

Morfeld said the bill will help students learn important, real-world lessons about journalism ethics and media law and allow them to discuss controversial issues without being silenced.

Opponents questioned the need for the bill.