Presentations and Handouts

Everyone with Internet access is at least potentially a "publisher," and everyone needs to know a little about the legal and ethical issues that accompany gathering and distributing information, whether in print, over the airwaves, or online. These SPLC reference materials can be useful tools for self-study, or for teaching a class in journalism, media law, media literacy or civics.

Know Your Rights Handouts

The SPLC's media lawyers address the "greatest hits" from college and high school journalists, from freedom-of-information to protecting confidential sources.

Lesson Plans

This new and regularly updated series, "Learning from the Headlines," will help 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.

"Ask Adam": In this series of short video clips, Attorney Adam Goldstein takes real-life questions from student journalists about daily newsroom dilemmas.

SPLC podcasts: A new interview each month with a newsmaker at the intersection of law, journalism and education, useful as a classroom discussion-starter -- or just killing 20 minutes on the treadmill.

PowerPoint Presentations

The PowerPoint presentations below cover some of the most common media law issues faced by high school student journalists. Produced by the Student Press Law Center's legal staff, these introductory level presentations are intended for classroom or workshop use and provide students (and their advisers) with an easy-to-follow, practical guide for understanding and avoiding the problems most often confronted by high school student media. Each is accompanied by a set of Teachers' Presentation Notes in PDF-format that includes slide images and a presentation script.

Have you used one or more of the SPLC Presentations in your classroom? If so, let us know your thoughts. Send your comments to us via our online comment form.

  • Press Law Primer: This presentation provides a brief overview of the "Big 6" legal issues confronted by high school student journlalists: censorship, libel, invasion of privacy, copyright, access to records and meetings, reporter's privilege. (Apx. 90 minutes)(7.6 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(14.4 MB)

  • Copyright Law: This presentation begins with a brief introduction of the history and goals behind copyright. It then explores some of the basics of copyright, including questions about copyright eligibility, copyright duration, registration, obtaining copyright permissions and its distinction from other intellectual property rights (patent, trademark) and plagiarism. Finally, considerable time is spent discussing copyright law's Fair Use Exemption, one of the more confusing -- yet most important -- issues in copyright for student journalists. The presentation includes a number of true-to-life examples that should help students understand where the legal boundaries lie. (Apx. 45 minutes)(6.9 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(21.5 MB)

  • Freedom of Information Law: Freedom of information law provides citizens with one very important tool for keeping tabs on what their government officials are up. Every journalist -- whether student or commercial -- needs at least a general understanding of what FOI law is and how it works. This presentation explains what laws are available and how they can help you obtain access to records and meetings of interest to high school student media. (Apx. 30 minutes)(5.7 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(16.5 MB)

  • Invasion of Privacy Law: This presentation helps student journalists understand and identify where the legal lines are drawn when gathering and publishing information that might be considered private. It examines each of the four different types of invasion of privacy and includes a number of true-to-life examples that will help reporters and photographers steer clear of the most common privacy trouble spots. (Apx. 45 minutes)(15 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(5.5 MB)

  • Libel Law: At or near the top of the list of legal topics any journalist needs to understand is libel. This presentation provides student journalists with a straightforward guide to understanding and identifying libel. It includes a number of true-to-life examples and ends with a list of practical suggestions that will help student journalists avoid common libel traps. (Apx. 45 minutes)(5.4 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(5.1 MB)

  • Press Freedom: This presentation describes the free press rights of high school journalists afforded through court decisions and state laws. The presentation discusses the major court cases that have helped define the First Amendment protections that apply in school. It also provides practical suggestions for maintaining a free and responsible student publication. (Apx. 45 minutes)(8.8 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(22 MB)

  • Reporter's Privilege: This presentation will introduce student journalists to one of the hottest and most controversial topics of the day: the reporter's privilege. Should reporters be allowed to keep their confidential sources or unpublished notes or photos secret? When is it appropriate to use a confidential source? What do you do if police or school officials demand to search your newsroom or computer files? Reporter's privilege cases often require a quick and knowledgeable response. Don't be caught unprepared. (Apx. 45 minutes)(5.7 MB)

    Teachers' Presentation Notes (PDF)(6.5 MB)

If you do not have a registered copy of Microsoft PowerPoint, you can download a free PowerPoint Viewer through the Microsoft Web site. Versions are available for both Macintosh and PC users. Simply type "PowerPoint Viewer" in the search box. (Note that some users have experienced some differences in font selection and spacing when using the Viewer.)

© 2006-2011 Student Press Law Center. All rights reserved.

Permission to use and display SPLC Media Law Classroom Presentations for noncommercial, educational purposes is hereby granted. Any commercial use, reproduction or editing of the presentations are prohibited without the express written permission of the Student Press Law Center.