Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Captive Voices

Jack Nelson was known as a hard driving, dedicated reporter and bureau chief in the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times. To me, he led the seminal work that brought the problems of the high school press to the fore when few were paying attention. Captive Voices was published in 1974 by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation established to continue the pursuit of societal change that marked Kennedy’s life.

In 1973 Senator Edward Kennedy announced the plans of the foundation and created a commission to study the potential of high school journalism in America. The commission focused on censorship of the high school press, lack of participation of minority students on high school press staffs and other issues. Hearings were held across the country and Jack studied 1,725 pages of hearing testimony to write the final report that became Captive Voices.

That report led to the creation of the Student Press Law Center and New Expression, an independent teen-written newspaper in Chicago. Jack was pleased when I launched L.A. Youth in 1988 and over the years he continued to be supportive of our newspaper and the potential of high school journalism in America.

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