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State High School Journalism Group Honors Long-Time Friend of Student Press for 'Exemplary Contributions'


Attorney Mike Hiestand was recently recognized for his years of legal assistance to students and teachers by the Washington Journalism Education Association. In related news, he has also announced his dream for a national “Tinker Tour” with free speech champion Mary Beth Tinker to remind the next generation of the value of free speech and a strong, independent press.

Ferndale, Wash. (PRWEB) November 01, 2012

The Washington Journalism Education Association (WJEA) recognized attorney Mike Hiestand for his years of legal assistance to students and teachers involved with the scholastic press in Washington state and across the U.S. at its annual Journalism Day on the University of Washington campus, Sept. 20.

Working for more than 20 years with the Student Press Law Center near Washington D.C., Hiestand provided legal assistance to nearly 15,000 high school and college student journalists. After moving to Washington state in 2003, where he founded Zenger Consulting, he continued to work with the SPLC while keeping an active public speaking schedule across the country on issues relating to the scholastic press.

“Mike is considered a foremost authority on student press law, and co-authored ‘Law of the Student Press' now in its fourth edition. This is a must-have for anyone teaching student media in the U.S. today,” said WJEA executive director Kathy Schrier.

“Whenever my journalism students or I needed legal or ethical advice, Mike was there. His passion and dedication to student journalists' rights and responsibilities have inspired thousands of students and advisers and, frankly, protected and preserved a free and open press for generations to come,” said WJEA Past President Vince DeMiero.

Hiestand was also recognized for his work last month by the Society of Professional Journalists at their national convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Hiestand resigned full-time from the Student Press Law Center this year and is currently working with his brother at Houstory Publishing, a company they founded together in 2007.

But Hiestand, who continues to work with the Student Press Law Center as their special project attorney, says he's not done sharing his passion for free speech with young people.

Hiestand says his other very big dream is to take a bus tour across the country with Mary Beth Tinker and speak to young people about the value of free speech generally and a free, independent press specifically.

Tinker was one of the plaintiffs in a landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the First Amendment rights of students to protest the Vietnam war by wearing a black armband to school.

“Mary Beth and I have talked about it. We've got to work out the details, but the important thing is that we'd both like this to happen. And we're willing to sleep on a bus to do it!”

Hiestand said Tinker told him recently that she's been thinking about pulling back a bit from her nursing career and working more with young people.

“We're still in the dream phase,” Hiestand said, “but we've started looking for a sponsor — our real life ‘angel investor.' I think it would make for a remarkable return on investment for anyone truly interested in civics education.”

He said that his two decades working with schools and young people left him with a sobering realization about the value placed on teaching our next generation about how America works.

“Civics education in our schools is on life support. Schools don't teach it; young people don't get it and multiple polls and studies have reflected that sobering reality,” he said.

Hiestand said the “Tinker Tour,” as he calls it, would be kind of like the popular GoDaddy commercial now airing. Mary Beth, he said, would be out front, giving her wonderful, inspirational story about the importance of people — young and old — standing up to make their voices heard – and he'd be the “geek” on the inside providing some of the more nitty-gritty details about the law and how to work with it.

“I think it would be a very effective combination to reach our next generation and remind them what's at stake,” Hiestand said.

But Hiestand joked that while Mary Beth might be the star, “We'd both need to drive the bus.”


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