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Unconventional Supreme Court case could turn First Amendment protection AGAINST government overreaching into protection FOR government overreaching

(03/01/11 7:09pm)

The Supreme Court will hear arguments April 27 in a First Amendment case with exceedingly high stakes for the legality of open-government statutes across the country. If the Court agrees with the reasoning of the Nevada Supreme Court in the case of Commission on Ethics of the State of Nevada v.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Payday for university employees can pay off in newsworthy stories

(03/01/11 7:14pm)

Let's face it, we're all curious to know who's got the biggest one on campus. Salary, of course. What employees are paid at state colleges and universities is a matter of public record, and obtaining the information today often is as easy as an online search. As blogger Dan Reimold of College Media Matters reports, the University of Illinois' student newspaper, the Daily Illini, markedly increased its online traffic by adding the feature of an employee salary guide where, by depressing one button, debt-burdened students can depress themselves over football coach Ron Zook's $1.06 million salary. Many professional news websites offer state salary data searchable by the employee's name, title or function.

W. Va. passes reporters' shield bill that includes student journalists

(03/14/11 1:17pm)

Legislators in West Virginia on Saturday unanimously approved a bill to protect journalists' confidential sources -- a bill that now includes student reporters. A floor amendment in the state senate added student journalists at "accredited educational institutions" to the definition of "reporter" in the legislation.

Virginia approves revised, journalism-friendly social media guidelines for teachers

(03/25/11 7:25pm)

The Virginia Board of Education unanimously approved guidelines for the prevention of sexual misconduct March 24. The original proposal—brought forth in November—underwent months of debate, resulting in the approval of a drastically reduced version. Although intended to deter school employees from engaging in inappropriate relationships with students, the initial proposal could have been detrimental to student journalism in Virginia. The November proposal included communication restrictions such as: No text messaging between students and teachers. No communicating with students using non-school platforms, including popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter. No “ongoing” meetings with a student without notifying the principal and obtaining written parental consent. The approved guidelines do not include those restrictions, but instead call for transparency, accessibility to parents and administrators, and professionalism in content and tone. The guidelines also indicate administrators should develop local policies and practices that deter misconduct and provide guidance for educators. The initial restrictions were criticized by journalism advisers and strongly opposed by the Student Press Law Center. SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte said the board did a good job of listening to Virginia teachers’ needs and changing the guidelines accordingly. “I think it’s a real testament to the power of teachers’ voices that the board of education has throttled back on the most severe restrictions,” LoMonte said.