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Bridgewater State newspaper: Adviser threatened with removal over controversial stories

(04/26/12 5:57pm)

Editors at Bridgewater State University say the Massachusetts school's president is seeking the ouster of newspaper adviser David Copeland because of controversial articles published in the April 12 edition of The Comment. In an article posted Thursday on The Comment's website, along with an accompanying opinion column, the newspaper reports that President Dana Mohler-Faria is asking the college's Board of Trustees -- who meet Friday -- to approve a policy disqualifying part-time faculty from advising student organizations -- a change that would apply only to Copeland. The April 12 issue of the paper contained two articles that drew college administrators' ire. A student-authored opinion piece questioned the need for a proposed $500 hike in student fees, arguing that the college's budget should be going down because some 200 jobs have been left vacant as a result of a freeze.



Student gay-rights advocate loses initial legal challenge, but makes some favorable First Amendment precedent

(04/01/12 8:44pm)

A federal judge has refused to reinstate an Atlanta-area student government leader who was removed from office after pushing to open the competition for "prom court" to same-sex couples -- but the ruling is hardly one for Reuben Lack's school, or any school, to celebrate. U.S.



The joke is on these college editors -- offensive April Fool's humor can backfire, badly

(04/07/12 12:37pm)

T.S. Eliot was right. April is the cruellest month -- if you're the editor of a college newspaper.Like the blooming of cherry blossoms and the return of the robins, April reliably brings the painful and entirely unnecessary self-destruction of some student journalists' careers, when attempts at April Fool's humor go horribly wrong.Each year, parody editions of campus newspapers push the boundaries of good taste -- and occasionally, good judgment.


The grizzly truth about copyright law and student photographs

(04/28/12 1:08pm)

If you have Internet access, if you know somebody with Internet access, if you've been standing near somebody with Internet access -- then you've already seen, probably multiple times, the Viral Falling Bear Picture. It's a superb moment-captured shot, the work of a Colorado student photographer, Andy Duann, who (as he describes in this interview) hustled without even taking time to put on socks, to be in exactly the right spot when agents from the state Parks and Wildlife Department tranquilized the campus interloper and caught him in a net. But getting a 200-pound-bear out of a tree may be simple compared with unscrambling the ownership issues that have arisen concerning the photo.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Earth-shaking reporting tips from the pros will have evasive sources quaking

(04/03/12 9:57pm)

After the devastating Long Beach earthquake of 1933, California swiftly enacted an unprecedented set of construction safety standards requiring new schools to be certified as quake-resistant -- and then, according to a 19-month-long investigative report, did very little to see that the standards were followed. To the contrary, a team of reporters from the nonprofit investigative website California Watch found, the job of certifying schools as earthquake-proof was put in the hands of questionably competent inspectors, and overseen by bureaucrats with cozy ties to the construction companies they were supposed to regulate. The result? Many thousands of construction projects never got the safety certification required by California's Field Act -- and hundreds more cannot be verified because their inspection files were simply closed due to missing paperwork. Public schools may be in need of a shake-up -- but not the kind that registers on the Richter scale. The journalists' April 2011 multimedia package, "On Shaky Ground," shared the highest award, the IRE Medal, bestowed Monday by the journalism training organization Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The work of the California Watch team, who partnered with journalists from San Francisco's KQED radio, is breathtaking in its use of every presentation method known to journalism -- even a smartphone app to help parents detect whether their kids' school has been identified as deficiently constructed.


That didn't take long -- unrepentant free-speech violator Chicago State resumes its censoring ways

(04/06/12 5:36pm)

When Chicago State University's response to a humiliating federal-court defeat -- which found that the college had violated the free-speech rights of its fired newspaper adviser and former editor-in-chief -- was to issue a triumphant news release declaring victory, you knew it wouldn't be long before the college returned to the First Amendment doghouse. Twenty-three days, to be exact. Having learned nothing from U.S.


Annals of SPLC's Report magazine -- now readable online -- are a chronicle of progress, retrenchment

(04/08/12 5:31pm)

The first known issue of what has since become known as the SPLC's Report magazine featured the following news item: In November 1975, the Daily Princetonian, the campus newspaper at Princeton University, carried a story alleging that a University employee had been stealing food, furniture and appliances from the school over a ten-year period. The Board of Trustees of the Daily Princetonian called the story 'extremely irresponsible' and expressed concern that the story had not been shown to them prior to publication.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Indiana court ruling further strengthens case for disclosure from private-college police

(04/10/12 5:53pm)

A federal court's recent ruling that Notre Dame police are subject to civil-rights lawsuits as "state actors" helps bolster the case for journalists to obtain access to records from police agencies operated by private colleges. In Torres v.


In "Making Progress" report, education leaders call for a reboot of schools' restrictive technology policies

(04/11/12 10:56am)

Most K-12 teachers have experienced the impediment of blocked websites and denied access to tools (Gmail, Twitter) they use everywhere else in their lives, and the frustration is doubly acute for those teaching journalism, for which social media increasingly is indispensable. This week, a coalition of education and technology advocates -- including the Student Press Law Center -- set forth a series of conversation-starting recommendations aimed at rebooting school technology policies.


GUEST COLUMN: Missouri Maneater April Fool's controversy offers "teaching moment" for school disciplinary authorities

(04/14/12 10:38am)

Dead On Arrival–that was the status of the letter from the Office of Student Conduct to The Maneater’s editors caught up in the April Fools’ foolishness.  Everyone I talked to at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, from the dean on down, was incensed by the notion of disciplinary action against the student editors. And don’t forget the university’s own legal-staff members.  Some of them still feel the burn from the U.S.



Watch where you chalk, 'cause the courts might balk -- is sidewalk graffiti protected speech?

(04/17/12 5:13am)

Watch where you walk 'cause the sidewalks talk. And you can't keep a secret from the ground beneath you. Step very lightly on the earth below. Or before you know it everyone will know. --"Sidewalk Talk," Madonna (1984) If you're arrested for chanting a political message on a public sidewalk, that's a slam-dunk violation of your constitutional rights.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: An EZ story 4 u -- who's texting on the taxpayer's dime

(04/17/12 6:15pm)

The outcry over lavish spending on a General Services Administration retreat, where federal bureaucrats enjoyed $44 breakfasts, is a reminder that few things get readers more incensed than learning that government employees are treating themselves to luxuries that budget-strapped citizens are forced to scrimp on. That's why it's an especially good -- and easy -- public-records story to take periodic stock of how employees at your college or school district are using government-issued cellphones and other communication devices. It's been estimated that the average American spends $635 a year on cellphone service, one of the highest rates in the Western world (and since that estimate comes from 2008, before data-gulping smartphones were in universal circulation, it almost certainly is low). Because it's one of the biggest bills consumers pay every month, knowing that a state or city official is abusing a taxpayer-subsidized cellphone provokes special outrage. Last summer, the Nashua Telegraph published an examination of four months' worth of bills from phones issued to local government officials.



Judge finds third Nebraska student's rights were not violated in "RIP" dispute

(04/23/12 3:37pm)

A federal judge ruled in favor of the Millard Public School District on Monday, after a jury was unable to decide whether the district violated a student’s First Amendment rights when she was disciplined for wearing “RIP” clothing. Cassie, Dan and Nick Kuhr were suspended for wearing “Julius RIP” clothing and accessories following the death of a friend in gang-related violence.


Indiana journalism teacher settles First Amendment lawsuit involving newspaper, yearbook

(04/24/12 3:30pm)

An Indiana high school newspaper and yearbook adviser has settled her lawsuit against Greater Clark County Schools, though the terms are not yet known. Kelly Short sued the public school corporation in January, claiming school officials retaliated against her for supporting the First Amendment rights of students.