Bright lights

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

We have long been staunch ad­vo­cates of keep­ing a bright light on the work­ings of gov­ern­ment. So we are de­lighted that this Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion counts among its mem­bers two jour­nal­ists who be­lieve the same thing. Both have pro­posed leg­is­la­tion aimed at sup­port­ing and pro­tect­ing mem­bers of the me­dia.

Del. Chris Hurst, a for­mer an­chor and re­porter for WDBJ in Roanoke, has in­tro­duced HB 2392, which would guar­an­tee free­dom of ex­pres­sion for stu­dent jour­nal­ists and stu­dent-pub­lished me­dia at Vir­ginia schools. The bill would safe­guard stu­dent jour­nal­ists’ work from un­nec­es­sary cen­sor­ship or re­tal­i­a­tion from school ad­min­is­tra­tors. Schools would only be able to in­ter­fere if the me­dia con­tent vi­o­lates fed­eral law, is defam­a­tory, or dan­ger­ous.

Del. Dan­ica Roem comes from a news­pa­per back­ground. She served as the lead re­porter of the Gainesville Times and Prince Wil­liam Times in Prince Wil­liam County and as the news edi­tor for the Mont­gomery County Sen­tinel in Mary­land. Her bill, HB 2250, would pre­vent jour­nal­ists from be­ing com­pelled to dis­close pro­tected in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter her elec­tion last Novem­ber, Roem told jour­nal­ists in a con­fer­ence call that she con­sid­ers her­self “the re­porters’ li­ai­son in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.” She promised that she “will al­ways be a re­porter be­fore I’m a politi­cian.” That’s good news for ev­ery­one. The two del­e­gates will be hold­ing a joint brief­ing to­day at 3:00 p.m. in the House Brief­ing Room at the Poc­a­hon­tas Build­ing to dis­cuss their bills. Mon­day’s fore­cast is for bright sun­shine.

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