The Washington Journalism Education Association (WJEA) has awarded former State Senator Joe Fain the national Journalism Education Association Friend of Scholastic Journalism Award for his sponsorship of student press rights legislation that became law in 2017.
The award, which is the only award that WJEA gives to a non-educator, was presented to Fain at the WJEA board of directors retreat on June 22 at the Mercer Island Community Center.
Fain, who served the 47th District for eight years and is currently president and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, introduced SB 5064 and worked with WJEA to receive almost unanimous bipartisan support for the bill. The bill states that public high schools and colleges across Washington must adopt a policy allowing student journalists to report on any topic without censorship as long as they follow professional standards.
“There has never been a more important time for all people, but especially young journalists, to have the power to responsibly speak without fear of retaliation or censorship,” said Fain. “As policy-makers look to crack down on ‘fake news’ by demanding censorship of controversial speech, we must protect a culture that values pluralism, tolerance, and a competition of ideas. I appreciate this recognition by journalism teachers across the nation, but could not have pushed this bill across the line without the leadership of long-time journalism instructors Fern Valentine and Tom Kaup, and Kathy Schrier from the WJEA.”