Longtime SPLC attorney Hiestand named distinguished journalism graduate at Marquette

Marquette University’s J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication and the Marquette University Alumni Association honored longtime Student Press Law Center attorney Michael C. Hiestand on Saturday as the 2016 recipient of their college's By-Line Award. The award is presented each year to an alumnus who has attained distinction and has made exceptional achievements in journalism and related fields.


Hiestand, who graduated from Marquette University in 1987 with a degree in journalism and later from Cornell Law School, has gained renown for his committed defense of the First Amendment and the rights of student journalists. In more than two decades on the staff of the SPLC, Hiestand provided legal assistance to nearly 15,000 student journalists and advisers.

During the 2013-14 academic year, Hiestand took his dedication to student press rights on the road by organizing  the Tinker Tour, a nationwide First Amendment awareness campaign bringing the landmark student-speech case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District , to a new generation of young journalists. Accompanied by Mary Beth Tinker, one of the original Tinker plaintiffs, he visited 31 states and the District of Columbia to discuss the importance of free speech and free press.

“My work with student media has truly been my dream job,” he said about his lifetime of work. “I believe -- I know -- good journalists can and do change the world for the better. That’s why I went to journalism school. The First Amendment, among other things, protects journalists. That’s why I went to law school.”

Hiestand is the co-author of the SPLC's reference book, Law of the Student Press, and was the primary author of "Covering Campus Crime: A Handbook for Journalists," now in its fifth edition. He also wrote the long-running column, “It’s The Law,” covering student media law, published by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Associated Collegiate Press. In 2009, the National Scholastic Press Association awarded him its Pioneer Award, its highest honor for journalism educators. In 2015, he and Tinker were presented with the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in recognition of their free-speech awareness efforts.

Hiestand has been one of the leading proponents of a student press-rights statute to protect the independence of student journalists and journalism advisers in his home state of W

Tagged: First Amendment, Marquette University, Mike Hiestand, recent-news, Tinker Tour