Communications Officer Job Description

As the Communication Officer, I will take the lead in coordinating publicity efforts via the website, social media channels and media outreach campaigns.

I use storytelling and visual design to make informative presentations to educate supporters and decision-makers. I will keep all members and people involved on the New Voices journey updated as things advance. I will ensure the New Voices identity is easily represented in everything we create and share.

I will work to create material for other officers, when needed, to create a smooth process when sharing and spreading information. I will guide the voice and look of New Voices to be professional and informative by creating visually appealing presentations. With the information provided by other officers, I will design materials for use within their areas of focus.

I am responsible for creating an environment of open conversation about student journalistic rights by keeping everything up to date and accessible for everyone to stay connected and informed.

Legislative Officer Job Description

As the legislative officer of New Voices Texas, I work to build relationships between our supporters and members of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. 

This involves setting up meetings with members of the Legislature’s education committees, identifying bill sponsors, and providing them with the resources they need to advance the legislation through the lawmaking process. 

I will familiarize myself with the legislative process and work to educate other supporters about effective strategies needed to pass a bill into law. I will work to build positive relationships with lawmakers of all parties to pass this non-partisan law that will benefit all Texans.

I also work with the Student Press Law Center to enlist experts on matters of censorship and student press rights to ensure we are providing accurate and helpful information to pass New Voices legislation.

I will work closely with the other New Voices board officers to organize lobbying efforts in which supporters will show their support for the immediate need for this law to ensure the press rights of students and protect teachers and administrators from misconceptions involving the publication process.

I will assist in the coordination of efforts to build support from various stakeholders including school board trustees, administrators, students, and parents.

State Organizer Officer Job Description

In my position as State Organizer Officer, my first charge will be to build a coalition of supporters to pass a New Voices law in Texas. This will require collaborating with my fellow board members to organize communication, recruitment, education, and lobbying efforts. I will also work closely with the Regional Organizing Officers to bring stakeholders from all areas of the state together for a coordinated lobbying effort before and during the upcoming legislative session, which will start in January.

As a lead organizer for New Voices Texas, I will have a managerial role in which I will check in regularly with my fellow officers and set a calendar of when certain tasks must be completed. 

I will also work closely with the Legislative Officer to regularly communicate with elected representatives and other allies for our organization throughout the state of Texas. Establishing relationships with supporters across many districts will create a more diverse coalition and allow New Voices to have a broader range of support. During the legislative session, I will also be organizing lobby days when students will speak in front of legislators in hopes of gaining their support for the passage of a New Voices law.

I will also collaborate with our Communications Officer to build our online presence by utilizing platforms to ensure that allies have the opportunity to contribute to New Voices in many ways, including signing petitions, attending online panels, and facilitating correspondence with representatives and decision-makers and influencers across the state. 

As a strong team of student leaders, we will advocate for student press freedom rights and educate others on the importance of student journalists in our communities. 

Regional Organizer Officer Job Description

As Regional Organizer Officer my position requires the acts of compiling contacts and making representatives and allies of our organization familiar and aware of New Voices. Growing familiarity with the organization will ensure more recognition with representatives, legislators, and our communities. 

I will help ensure that our organization and efforts are known within my region. Keeping contact with coordinate advocates and other officials will help keep New Voices prepared and organized for advocacy days, such as lobby days, informal sessions, and hearing attendances. Along with contacting coordinate advocates, I will also create and compile presentations, resources, and schedules for any New Voices related meetings. 

I will be working closely with our State Organizer Officer and Legal Officer to organize New Voices events and meetings. It is also pertinent that I work along with our Communication Officer to efficiently contact the needed allies and officials that will ensure the success of our meetings.

Education Officer Job Description

As Education Officer, my role will entail raising awareness regarding the fundamental origin of the fight for lasting student press freedom and the precedents that altered the rights of the student press including the influential Hazelwood and Tinker court cases. 

I will support New Voices Texas educational efforts by reaching out to fellow student journalists in Texas with the help of my fellow officers. I will educate on the crucial nature of the press and why censorship stifles ethical and honest journalism. I hope to spread a greater understanding of what we as student journalists can do to help fellow student journalists learn about their rights. I will work to spread information about what the New Voices movement is trying to achieve and how we wish to achieve it specifically through legislative action. 

I will work with the organizational officers and communications officer to set up a system of communication to facilitate educational posts regarding New Voices and student press rights. I will also work with the Club Development Officer to make sure individual schools have the tools and resources to create their own branches of New Voices in their school communities which can feed into the larger movement as a whole. 

Club Development Officer Job Description

The primary role of the position is to work with students in schools, primarily high schools, across Texas to form official school clubs centered around New Voices Texas. The clubs would preferably include both student journalists and non-journalism students as well as staff and teachers who desire to participate.

The officer should utilize New Voices Texas social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as mailing lists to connect with students and staff that would be interested in forming a club at their school. One effective strategy would be to reach out to journalism advisers at various schools asking for any students who could lead the foundation of a New Voices club. Once willing students/staff have been contacted, the officer can begin aiding in the club foundation process. 

The goal for the 2020-2021 school year is to form at least three clubs that have active participation in their schools as well as with the New Voices Texas campaign.

The club development officer should attempt to create official New Voices clubs in any school with students or staff who demonstrate interest. The overall goal of the club development is to generate support and interest in New Voices among both student journalists and non-journalist students. The more students and staff that support the organization, the more powerful the campaign will become, forming a larger volunteer force and an increased amount of engagement in the lawmaking process. 

When interest in New Voices is expressed by all students, regardless of their participation in journalism, schools and school districts are more likely to express support for the New Voices Texas campaign. 

New Voices Texas announces expanded board of officers for 2020 – 2021

New Voices Texas is excited to announce a new expanded line-up of officers that will lead our organization and the fight to pass a law preventing censorship and clarifying the roles of administrators in the student publication process.

An appointment committee interviewed various interested applicants from across the state and selected five of them to join the ranks as officers in a newly expanded board of officers composed of seven members. This new board structure will provide expanded leadership opportunities and more specific areas of focus for each new board member.

The 2020-2021 board will be composed of the following positions and individuals.

Legislative Officer

Mylo Bissell — Akins High School in Austin, TexasMylo-square

“I am involved in New Voices because when our principal stepped down it became a source of anxiety for our staff. We were left scared because of a lack of assurance that our right to publish what we wanted wouldn’t be protected. The work New Voices does gives me hope that we can put a stop to these anxieties for student journalists in Texas.”

Contact Mylo at bissellb006@gmail.com.

State Organizer Officer

Katlynn Fox — Hebron High School in Carrollton, TexasKatlynn-square

“I am involved in new voices because I am passionate about liberating high school journalists and securing their rights. All journalists deserve to share their stories without fear of censorship or prior review.”

Contact at Katlynn at Katlynnfoxnewvoices@gmail.com.

Regional Organizer Officer

Mia Nguyen — Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas Mia-square

“I am involved in New Voices because writing without barriers is key to providing truthful news and sharing what is important. I hope to use this organization as a platform that encourages other student journalists to use writing to express themselves, and others’ stories, and strive for a truly free scholastic press.”

Contact Mia at Nguyenmia17@gmail.com.

Communications Officer

Christine Vo — Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, TexasChristine-square

“I got involved in New Voices to stand up for the students within my community and fight for the freedom of student press throughout Texas schools. I want to be able to bring awareness to our movement on many different platforms that engage and expand our audience by creating visual messages to convey our motivation as well as keep everyone intertwined on our journey.”

Contact Christine at trinhvchristine@gmail.com.

Club Development Officer

Cade Spencer — James Bowie High School in Austin, TexasCade-Square

“I have been a student journalist for five years, and I understand the important role a student journalist plays in a school community. I am eager for student journalists to have full press rights so that they can best fulfill their important role.”

Contact Cade at cadespennwt@gmail.com.

Education Officer

Keana Saberi — Westwood High School in Austin, TexasKeana-square

“My passion and writing skillset compelled me to take part in this organization, to fight for altered state legislation to protect the rights of the free press for high school journalism students facing censorship. I strive to fight for clearer and strengthened student press rights and to educate others on the importance of the free press, especially for student journalists.”

Contact Keana at ksaberi2019@gmail.com

Adviser Officer

David Doerr — Akins High School in Austin, TexasDoerr square crop

“I am involved in New Voices because I have enjoyed working at a school where I have had the privilege of advising student publications without problems related to censorship or prior review by administrators. This experience has allowed our journalism students to produce ethically and responsibly produced news coverage that is relevant and important for our readership. However, I understand that not all advisers and students enjoy this experience. I believe that this should not be a privilege, but a right for all across Texans.”

Contact David at doerr.david@gmail.com.

Highlights from Hazelwood

James Bowie High School Newspaper Adviser Michael Reeves shares his experience regarding the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier decision, which occured on January 29th, 1988 and now marks Student Press Freedom Day.

In 1988 I was the Editor-in-Chief of the Ukiahilite in Ukiah, CA. It was my senior year and through my adviser and my father, who happened to be the publisher of the local newspaper, The Ukiah Daily Journal, I knew that there was a court case that was going to be heard by the SCOTUS regarding student scholastic press rights. We knew that Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier might impact the publication of our high school paper.

Between my father Thomas Reeves, my adviser Pat Wilson and I, we discussed plans if there was a negative decision made and there was any efforts on the part of the principal of Ukiah High School to censor the publication what the response would be. The school district had recently hired a new principal, who had been a principal at a middle school in another part of California. There were rumors that he was not a fan of the press, some sources indicated that he had run afoul of the local press at his old school, and had left under questionable circumstances before being hired by the USD. There were some questions about why he was even hired, but those were secondary to the newspaper’s potential problems.

When we learned the results of the Hazelwood case, the next day I met with the principal and my father. We informed him that we would not tolerate any censorship, and that if there was any attempt to even step foot in the journalism room, that we would resort to taking the paper underground. We kept the adviser out of the discussion because we knew as an employee of the school, he might be risking his job to be involved. 

As the publisher of the local paper, my father pledged to provide the necessary equipment, darkroom, paste-up tables, etc. so that the student staff of the Ukiahilite could produce the paper off site. He also agreed to print the paper at cost, so the local community would be able to support the paper with advertising that would cover all expenses. The paper could then be printed off site and distributed both on and off campus to students free of charge and as a non-campus publication, similar to the Daily Journal or any other media production.

The principal was not extremely informed about Hazelwood, and he didn’t like the threats, but in the end there was an agreement reached. He never did attempt to censor the paper during my final year on campus. The ‘Hilite was a nationally recognized publication that won multiple best-in-show awards from the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, as well as Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the American Scholastic Press Association. We won multiple awards every year from the California Scholastic Press Association and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat area awards.

Ironically, the following year, after I had graduated, the adviser Pat Wilson, was removed from that position in the middle of the year, shortly after the publication of the Ukiahilite that was critical of an administrative decision. I had left town to attend a local community college, Santa Rosa Junior College, where I worked on the newspaper staff of the Oak Leaf, an award-winning collegiate publication.

Led by my father, who was still the publisher at the Daily Journal, there was a public outcry over the removal. Eventually his position was reinstated and he was allowed to continue as the adviser of the ‘Hilite. Eventually, though, Pat moved on to teach history at a smaller area high school. That year, 1989, Pat Wilson was name the California High School Journalism Adviser of the Year. I attended the awards ceremony and was able to celebrate his achievements as one of the best high school journalism teachers in the country.

I consider Pat my mentor and I still advise the publication here at James Bowie High School, in Austin, using many of the methods and approaches he used with us 30+ years ago. We communicate on a regular basis and he is always complementary of the publications my students put out and my role as their adviser. He never says it, but I think he is proud of where I am as a teacher and adviser and there is a sense of pride that he was the person that changed my life through high school journalism. He is why I am where I am and doing what I do. 

Michael Reeves

Constitution Day

232 years ago, the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia and we celebrate the anniversary on Tuesday, September 17. Before signing, anti-federalists James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton fought for a Bill of Rights. Fearing a monarchy, Americans were given unalienable rights to preserve democracy and freedom.

Every year, the Freedom Forum institute holds a survey about the First Amendment for adult Americans. This year, 64 percent could name at least one freedom and only 4 percent could name freedom of petition, the most forgotten freedom.

Freedom of the press is one that student journalists, journalism advisers and activists hold close to their hearts. Without New Voices, 36 states around the country have school newspapers, yearbooks and broadcast teams that are limited in their reporting. Constitution day reminds them of what their founding fathers wanted them to have. 

Student journalist and New Voices activist from Nebraska, LeAnne Bugay, believes in celebrating Constitution Day and spreading awareness of the First Amendment. “The First Amendment is beyond essential,” Bugay said. “Learning how to be responsible with the power of the First Amendment in a supportive school environment makes us responsible adults in the real world.” 

Constitution Day does not have to be a hard thing to celebrate. Something as simple as a survey to see who on your social media page can name all five freedoms can be very efficient in reminding people what their freedoms are. Last year, the student newspaper at Prosper High School set up a booth for students to stop by during lunches. The students were given sticky notes to write their names and list it under which of the five freedoms means the most to them in their lives. 

The day that our founding fathers signed their names on a document they believed would be the best way to run our country is just as important as any other holiday. It does them no justice if we as Americans do not celebrate the amendments, and especially the first.

The first amendment applies to everyone, not just journalist. It should not be something taken for granted, even though it can be easy to forget how easily these rights can be taken away. Americans should be grateful to live in a country where their voices matter. Spend time on September 17 celebrating what you have because not everyone gets to say they are free.

Haley Stack
New Voices Texas, Organizational Officer