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Illinois prosecutors' subpoena to student journalists smacks of harassment

(11/02/09 4:57pm)

It is hard to know where to start in describing what is wrong with the Cook County, Illinois, district attorney’s attempt to compel disclosure of student records underlying investigative journalistic work by students at Northwestern University. The dispute between Northwestern’s Innocence Project and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez was well-explored in a recent New York Times article, reflecting the national attention that the case is properly receiving. It is of course troubling that the government is arguing, wrongly, that the journalism students investigating the murder case against Anthony McKinney are not “real” journalists protected by Illinois’ shield law. The purpose of shield laws is to protect the integrity of the newsgathering process.

Faculty group bemoans erosion of free-speech protections on campus

(11/11/09 12:32am)

Some of the  most troubling cases that come through our door at the Student Press Law Center are not stories about students at all -- they are stories about the faculty advisers who become "collateral damage" when schools and colleges realize that they cannot safely attack student journalists directly. The leading faculty voice in support of employee free-speech rights on campus, the American Association of University Professors, came out this week with an authoritative assessment of the state of faculty speech rights -- in a word, the state is lousy -- and with some "best practices" for campuses that are interested in fostering the free and open discussion of ideas, no matter how controversial. The AAUP report, Protecting an Independent Faculty Voice: Academic Freedom after Garcetti v.

Louisiana joins "technophobia" craze with restraints on teacher-student communications

(11/16/09 10:52pm)

Louisiana's effort to deter inappropriate personal relationships between school employees and students may have a significant, and perhaps unforeseen, chilling impact on newsgathering by high school journalists. Act 214, enacted by the 2009 Louisiana legislature with the support of Gov.