Protecting Sources & Information

School and law enforcement officials sometimes look to the student media to provide them with information that they are unable — or unwilling — to track down themselves. Journalists, who occasionally rely on information provided by confidential or discreet sources, traditionally resist such efforts, citing, among other reasons, their need to maintain editorial independence and a desire not to be viewed as an investigative branch of the government. Subpoenas, search warrants, confiscation of notes or photos, newsroom searches and threats of punishment for those who refuse to cooperate are common problems faced by today's student media and it is important that you know what to do should officials come knocking on your newsroom's door.

Responding to school seizures and searches of cellphones

While a school has leeway to decide how and when cellphones may be used, the Fourth Amendment restricts the ability of any government agency to seize a person’s property or search the contents of that property, including a phone. Learn what the law does — and doesn't — protect. Read more

State-by-state guide to surveying classmates

States have taken different approaches to surveys in schools. Student journalists therefore would be wise to check their state's statutes before school officials use them to justify restricting a survey. The following states have statutes on their books relating to surveys. Read more