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Central Washington University

CWU Student Journalist Testifies in Olympia on Behalf of Freedom of the Press

Mariah Valles, courtesy of TVWCWU freshman Mariah Valles testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee in Olympia on behalf of a bill that would provide protections for student journalists in both high schools and colleges.

Valles is the online and social media editor for the Observer, CWU's student-run and student-written weekly newspaper. She was editor of Auburn High School's yearbook, Invader, and has spoken in favor of the bill for the past three years.

"Speaking from my own experience, I cannot stress how vital it is to work under an uncensored publication," she said. "The environment I worked under prepared me for college and real-world journalism." 

The nonprofit online news outlet Crosscut reached out to Valles to write an opinion piece, which it published on Tuesday.

CWU Digital Journalism program coordinator Cynthia Mitchell, who also serves as adviser for the Observer, noted, "There's a rich history-both nationally and at Central-for college journalists to enjoy their full First Amendment rights at state-funded universities. But the Supreme Court took those rights from high school journalists in 1988 and gave school administrators pretty much free rein to censor their school publications."

Mitchell, whose research and service passions revolve around the First Amendment, went on to say, "I love that Mariah is still fighting this important fight on behalf of student journalists."

Valles plans to major in digital journalism and aspires to become a journalism instructor.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,


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