Information For Advisers

Few jobs can be more challenging — or more rewarding — than that of the student media adviser. Walking the tightrope between preparing courageous student journalists and satisfying wary school administrators is seldom easy.

Have you used an SPLC resource in your classroom or to advise a student publication? If so, let us know what you thought of it.  Send your comments to us.

Legal Resources

Student Media Advisers and the Law

The SPLC's legal help guide for surviving the toughest job in school. 

SPLC Tip Sheet for Student Media Advisers

A short list of steps student media advisers should take to fight (and survive) administrative censorship.

A Manual for Student Media Advisers on Responding to Censorship

Published by the Newspaper Association of America in cooperation with the Student Press Law Center and the Journalism Education Association, this guide, "Press Freedom in Practice," provides real-life strategies and educational arguments that can be used to persuade censorship-prone administrators that there is a better way.

For the Classroom 

Test Your Students' Knowledge

How media-law savvy are your students? Before you let your students touch a keyboard, have them take our 30-minute comprehensive test or one of our quick quizzes on libel, invasion of privacy, copyright, cyberlaw, reporter's privilege, press freedom, the First Amendment or access law to test their understanding of their rights and responsibilities as high school journalists.

Lesson Plans and Handouts

Need help putting together a lesson or workshop on common media law issues faced by high school student journalists? Our series of free, downloadable PowerPoint classroom presentations might be just what you're looking for. We also have several handouts of frequently asked questions for topics ranging from copyright and fair use to protecting sources to publishing on the Internet and more. You can also download our "Learning from the Headlines" series that helps you use recent news events to spark classroom discussion and demonstrate how legal principles are at work every day in the newsroom and out in the field. has lesson plans on topics that include copy-editing, interviewing, design and graphics, advertising and organizing a student publication. 

Primers by the Newseum Institute are a good starting point for a discussion of the history and purpose of the First Amendment. 

Law of the Student Press

SPLC's Law of the Student Press is the essential reference tool for any classroom, newsroom or studio where journalists are being trained. In layman's language, it explains how to use the law to safely gather and share information, how to defend against threats to press freedom and how to stay on the right side of copyright, libel and privacy law.

Standards for Journalism Educators

Written and approved by the Journalism Education Association,  advisers can use these standards to show administrators the various tasks and approaches they carry out in their programs. In the spirit of the First Amendment, the guidelines focus on the process of publishing student media, not the student product. The guidelines are appropriate for both high school and college-level programs.

Professional Associations and Email Lists

Both  College Media Association and the Journalism Education Association operate very active email listservs that can provide wonderful information and peer support to student media advisers. The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) has useful information for high school media advisers on its website.

Working with Administrators

As the following articles — written by current and former school officials — demonstrate, an independent and responsible student press is an integral part of a vibrant and effective education system. 

"Scholastic Journalism: Skills for the 21st Century"

Educator and former SPLC board member Mary Stapp writes about how many school leaders have found that journalism education teaches essential skills for student success, in an article published in  The School Administrator, a magazine produced by the American Association of School Administrators.

"My Defense of Scholastic Journalism"

A former journalism teacher who became a superintendent reflects on the values students learn from scholastic journalism, in an article published in  The School Administrator, a magazine produced by the American Association of School Administrators.

"Stirring the Pot"

In an article published in the  American School Board Journal, a former high school student newspaper editor — later elected to his school board — discusses the value of a robust, free student press in cultivating a healthy, vibrant school district. (Provided here with permission from the author and the National School Boards Association. All Rights Reserved.) (PDF) 

"The Voice of Freedom"

An award-winning high school newspaper adviser and his principal share their thoughts about how a student newspaper free from prior review and censorship works at their school, in an article reprinted from  Principal Leadership magazine. (PDF reproduced here with permission from the authors and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. All Rights Reserved.)

"Freeing the Student Press for Their Good and Ours"

A superintendent shares her thoughts on the educational value of an independent student press, in an article published in  The School Administrator, a magazine produced by the American Association of School Administrators. (PDF reproduced here with permission from AASA. All Rights Reserved.) 

"I Didn't Always Think Well of the Student Press"

A superintendent shares his thoughts — and his conversion — regarding the importance of a vibrant student press, in an article published in  The School Administrator, a magazine produced by the American Association of School Administrators. (PDF reproduced here with permission from AASA. All Rights Reserved.)

Legislative Protections for Journalism Students and Advisers

Cure Hazelwood

Hazelwood is the infectious disease that no one talks about — because they're not allowed to. This resource looks at the symptoms and risks stemming from the landmark court case, Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier. It also includes ways to stop Hazelwood from spreading, and information on the current student press freedom campaigns in certain states.

"Subtle Censorship: The Problem of Retaliation Against High School Journalism Advisers and Three Ways to Stop It"

Retaliation against high school journalism advisers has become a new, more-subtle form of censorship across the country. A lawyer explores the best ways to end it, in an article published by the Journal of Law & Education. (PDF)

"Reversing the Tide: Restoring First Amendment Ideals in America's Schools Through Legislative Protection for Journalism Students and Advisors"

A lawyer writes that free speech has been eroded in schools as high school journalists have been taught to shy away from controversy and to stifle opposing views. She discusses what legislative protection for students and advisers can help "reverse the tide," in the Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal. (PDF)