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When professional journalists fail to stand up for the rights of student journalists, it feels to students like a betrayal — like those who themselves suffered censorship have forgotten the disempowering feeling of being distrusted. The word of journalism professionals gives cover to those who censor to deny the public truthful information about their failing schools. When journalists side with censors, that is the side they are taking — the side of lies over truth, the side of less information over more.
For 10 weeks last fall, Mary Beth Tinker and Mike Hiestand traveled the country in an RV, talking with students about free speech. They found an audience of teens “hungry for support and encouragement.”
Students and civil rights groups have protested the lack of due process protections in universities’ student conduct process. For journalists, that can leave them vulnerable to frivolous charges from irate sources.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been cracking down on unregulated drone usage, but many journalists aren’t letting that stop them. It could be years though, before some are allowed to fly legally.
As more high school athletic associations enter into agreements granting third parties exclusive broadcasting rights, journalists are figuring out how to deal with the restrictions.
Citing concerns about cyberbullying, schools have begun monitoring students’ online activity. Opponents say the tracking is unnecessarily invasive and could violate students’ First Amendment rights.
After two high-profile incidents where student journalists alleged censorship last year, the National Association of Black Journalists has convened a panel to look into concerns.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood ruling drew a road map for obtaining heightened First Amendment recognition in student media, hundreds of student publications have attempted to follow it, invoking the incantation “public forum.” Recent legal developments, however, have cast grave doubt on the value and durability of designating a publication — or any piece of government property — as a “forum.”
Nabiha Syed, a media attorney for Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP, and a member of SPLC’s Board of Directors, introduced Active Voice, an SPLC project that aims to help young women who face challenges in speaking out.
Texas law starts with the assumption that a requestor is owed records within 10 days. But asking the attorney general for an opinion stops the clock and can push the agency’s response time back by a month-and-a-half — which makes the process vulnerable to manipulation by an agency seeking to run out the clock on a deadline-sensitive request.
With added responsibilities and differing life experiences, nontraditional students — a growing population — often feel they are not well represented in their student newspaper. When nontraditional students join the newspaper staff, however, they are often able to broaden the organization’s news coverage.
Despite a promise of increased transparency in police activities, state public records laws may shield the footage from the public. Footage likely won’t be released if it is part of an ongoing investigation or if certain details, such as the identities of victims in sensitive situations, cannot be redacted.
Each school year, student newspaper staffs publish nude images. While some argue the images accurately convey a newsworthy event, others are published to be edgy, like at the University of Buffalo, where the student newspaper’s annual sex issue features articles about sexual health and related topics. Often accompanying the articles are sexually explicit images some people argue are unsettling to see in a newspaper.
In four states, student journalists outnumber journalists from professional outlets assigned to the statehouse full-time, where they ensure citizens have access to information about how the state spends their tax dollars and decisions on education, criminal justice and safety regulations.
At the University of Oregon, Vanderbilt University and the University of Montana, FERPA was cited to withhold records and information related to sexual assault allegations. FERPA was even cited at Florida State University to withhold records about Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been accused of sexual assault in December 2012.
This article looks at the frustrating obstacles journalists often face in trying to obtain access to personnel-related records from college and schools. While the law sometimes entitles these agencies to withhold highly embarrassing or confidential documents, it’s an oversimplification to say – as many agencies do – that “personnel” is a blanket excuse for denying a public-records request.