North Dakota John Wall New Voices Act



In April 2015, North Dakota's governor signed The John Wall New Voices Act, which ensures the free-speech rights of journalism students in North Dakota public schools and colleges. The law passed unanimously in the state legislature and went into effect in August.

Section 1Student Journalists — Freedom of expression — Civil Remedy (Colleges and Universities) 

1. As used in this section:

a. "School-sponsored media" means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education, distributed or generally made available to members of the student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media adviser. The term does not include any media intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media is produced. 

b. "Student journalist" means a student of an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in school - sponsored media. 

c. "Student media adviser" means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by an institution under the supervision of the state board of higher education to supervise or provide instruction relating to school - sponsored media. 

2. Except as provided in subsection 3, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school - sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the institution or by use of facilities of the institution or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to subsection 3, a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school - sponsored media. This subsection may not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists. 

3. This section does not authorize or protect expression by a student that: 

a. Is libelous or slanderous; 

b. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy; 

c. Violates federal or state law; or 

d. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of institution or state board of higher education policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the institution. 

Section 2: Student journalists - Freedom of expression - Civil remedy (Public K-12 schools)

1. As used in this section: 

a. "School - sponsored media" means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at a public school, distributed or generally made available to members of the student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media adviser. The term does not include any media intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media is produced. 

b. "Student journalist" means a public school student who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in school - sponsored media. 

c. "Student media adviser" means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by a school district to supervise or provide instruction relating to school - sponsored media. 

2. Except as provided in subsection 3, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school - sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district, by use of facilities of the school district, or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to subsection 3, a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school - sponsored media. This subsection may not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists. 

3. This section does not authorize or protect expression by a student that: 

a. Is libelous or slanderous;  

b. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;  

c. Violates federal or state law; or  

d. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school district policy, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school. 

4. A school district may not authorize any prior restraint of any school - sponsored media except when the media: 

a. Is libelous or slanderous; 

b. Constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy; 

c. Violates federal or state law; or 

d. So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school district policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school. 

5. A school district may not sanction a student operating as an independent journalist. 

6. Each school district shall adopt a written student freedom of expression policy in accordance with this section. The policy must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression. The policy may also include limitations to language that may be defined as profane, harassing, threatening, or intimidating.