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Montana student recognized for resisting school's cover-up of athletes' grades

(07/23/10 4:34pm)

Will Meyer is grateful for the Student Free Press Award that he received in the Montana High School Better Newspaper contest, but the sting of the censorship battle that prompted his recognition remains. Meyer, who will begin his tenure as editor-in-chief of Bozeman High School's Hawk Talk in August,  was recognized for fighting to prevent administrative censorship of the newspaper, after the principal prohibited the staff from running the complete version of a story that listed the average GPAs of school athletic teams. In what Meyer called "one of the most interesting things the paper did all year," the administration stopped the newspaper from printing the average GPAs that fell below 3.0, which Meyer said only made the school look like it had something to hide. Meyer's experience highlights the abuse of administrative power that is all too common with prior-review regimes that are trying to maintain a polished image for their schools. But Meyer, who was sports editor at the time of the story's publication, said the staff didn't have an agenda when writing the article, and its publication wasn't intended toe embarrass the school.


McCormick protocol forces schools to confront the educational costs of censorship

(08/13/10 4:26pm)

On a snowy February day at Chicago's Cantigny Park, the McCormick Foundation brought together 50 experts -- teachers, lawyers, school administrators, students -- with a blank easel pad and a mission: to fix the flawed way that schools oversee what students publish. Far too many school districts impose retaliatory governance policies over student media in crisis-hysteria mode (or punishment mode) without careful deliberation.



Virginia alcohol advertising ban could be Supreme Court-bound

(08/26/10 8:55am)

Two college newspapers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a federal appeals-court ruling that upheld a Virginia regulation restricting what advertisers can say about alcoholic beverages in student publications. Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times and the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily, represented by counsel from the ACLU, filed a petition Aug.


Back to School Checklist: Evaluating your staff’s ‘media-law radar’

(08/31/10 4:13pm)

For better or worse, knowledge of the law continues to be an ever-growing part of the skill set required of all journalists, including students.One fairly quick -- and mostly painless/sometimes entertaining -- way to check how much your students/staff know about media law as they head back to the newsroom is to direct them to the SPLC's Test Your Knowledge of Student Media Law quiz series.





Parents challenge school's 'I Heart Boobies' ban in federal court

(11/15/10 3:22pm)

The parents of two middle school students sued a Pennsylvania school district Monday over its ban of the controversial "I Heart Boobies" cancer awareness bracelets. The suit alleges that the Easton Area School District violated the free expression rights of the two girls, identified in court documents as "B.H." and "K.M.," when it banned students from wearing the bracelets last month.


The Twelve Rules of Christmas — Plus One

(12/03/10 3:54pm)

Twas’ bout a month before Christmas when the calls first appeared. Student editors with the most frightening tales —  Oh Dear! They interview, they research, they write, write, write, write. But when it comes time to publish, they receive such a fright! The Principal, Headmaster, The Dean or Whomever has told them to stop, “Do not pull that Print Lever!” So what dastardly phrase, what horrible quip has led to this Dark Act of censorship? My mind goes a-racing as I await words most foul... The f-word?



'I ? Boobies' dispute may clarify schools' ability to police 'lewd' speech

(12/17/10 9:09pm)

The future of students' ability to express themselves on the grounds of public schools is dangling from a $3.99 rubber bracelet. A federal court heard testimony Thursday in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by two Pennsylvania middle school students disciplined for refusing to remove breast-cancer awareness bracelets bearing what their administrators considered a "lewd" message: " I ? Boobies!


Schools' overreaching, and mounting evidence of its civic damage, means Hazelwood will soon be a ghost of Christmases past

(12/24/10 5:18pm)

If it is true that "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous," then America's young people have been handed a Christmas blessing that, as with so many blessings, comes disguised as a lump of coal. It is difficult not to see divine providence in the confluence of Dec.


Thank God you graduated? In Montana, sure. In Colorado, no way. Are we all reading the same Constitution?

(12/29/10 6:15pm)

In a ruling that breaks with the prevailing approach of federal courts, Montana's highest court has limited the ability of public schools to dictate what students can say in addressing graduation ceremonies. The Montana Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling in Griffith v.




Getting censored can be its own "mark of excellence"

(05/14/11 1:51pm)

One of the most common -- and most insidious -- rationalizations for censoring student publications is "poor quality." It's the last refuge for the censor who is out of excuses, because frankly, it's always possible to find a blemish on even the finest journalistic work. The idea that a newspaper needs to be "edited" or "proofread" by the college president or public-relations director for purposes of "teaching good journalism" has never stood up to the straight-face test.



Fighting censorship: A life-changing decision, vindicated by history

(08/23/11 1:24pm)

This item jumped out from today's New Orleans newspaper, a remembrance of a journalist and civic leader whose trajectory was charted by a principled decision made as a college student editor. As the Times-Picayune describes, Carl Corbin was one of seven Louisiana State University journalism students, including three editors at The Reveille newspaper, who faced discipline for standing up to Gov.


Covering protests and demonstrations: Staying safe if your campus is next to be "occupied"

(10/06/11 8:45pm)

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gathers steam in both New York City and at satellite locations across the country and internationally, some of those covering the event for commercial media have been called out for watching from afar, failing (or refusing) to take the time to talk with the protesters and hear their message.