Fall 2008

Journalism makes better students

The relentless news of layoffs and falling earnings at media companies may make skeptics question the value of journalism education. Two recent studies make a persuasive case for why scholastic journalism still makes a difference. Read more

SPLC spotlights stories that make a difference

Public-records laws can open up a world of discoveries, rewarding persistent journalists like those in Marcy Burstiner's reporting class at California's Humboldt State University. Read more

Yearbooks face more scrutiny

At the end of each school year, students pore over their new yearbooks, looking at every picture, picking out their friends and signing messages they hope will retain meaning for years to come. By the time the next year rolls around, that annual is all but forgotten and students are ready to move on to a new year of memory making. Read more

Covering sexuality -- carefully

When student journalists write about sex it almost always raises administrative eyebrows, but when the topic turns to homosexuality, the reaction sometimes escalates from concern to alarm. Read more

High school censorship in brief

Paper nearly folded after running photo, story on flag-burning CALIFORNIA -- The superintendent of Shasta Union High School District in Redding plans to get help from the local newspaper to teach student journalists how to make calculated editorial decisions. Read more

Student voices find sympathetic ear

Sen. Leland Yee was one of about 3,000 protesters in the 1960s who defended a little park on the urban Berkeley campus. The park was owned by the University of California and administrators intended to replace it with a new dormitory. Read more

Legislature passes anti-retaliation bill

California teachers stand to get more protection this fall under a bill meant to keep high school and college administrators from retaliating against them for protecting student free speech or expression. Read more

Legislation in brief

Mo. governor signs law intended to target online harassment MISSOURI -- Gov. Read more

Tangled Web

It had been a long day at school for Avery Doninger. Her principal, Karissa Niehoff, told her about scheduling conflicts the school was having with “Jamfest” — a battle of the bands contest Doninger worked to coordinate as junior class secretary for her Burlington, Conn., high school. Doninger believed because of those conflicts, the event would be effectively canceled. Read more

Order on the desktop

If retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has her way, students across the country will be donning controversial T-shirts and unrepentantly violating school dress codes ‘ in a virtual sense, at least. Read more

Old issues, new questions

It is a routine practice for people looking for internships and jobs. One letter after another, they carefully type their names into Google and hit “Enter” to delve up their pasts. High school sprinting records. Scholarship announcements. And a mention in the university police blotter for underage drinking? Read more

Conventional wisdom

Inside, American flags will drape over the walls while balloons float to the floor below. Music will keep the mood light and delegates on their feet. Outside, protesters will rattle chain-link fences and scream insults as riot police stand ready to squash violent protests. Read more

Where they stand

It might be impossible to predict just how the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates would act as commander in chief, but looking at what Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama have done in their careers could give potential voters a clue. Read more

Access in brief

University to pay largest-ever fine for faulty crime reporting MICHIGAN -- Eastern Michigan University in June was ordered to pay $350,000 in fines for 13 violations of the Clery Act, the largest fine ever imposed for violating the law governing disclosure of campus crime data.The fine is $7,500 less than the original amount issued by the U.S. Read more

Privacy rules could stunt access

Proposed changes to the regulations governing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act could result in denying access to information that would be crucial to keep schools accountable, some First Amendment advocates say. Read more

Sensitive subject

High school journalism depends on minors consenting to interviews. In Claremont, Calif., a high school junior told the student newspaper she supported a new law banning cell phones while driving. A freshman at a Jewish day school in Rockville, Md., discussed morality and capital punishment with her student publication. And in Palo Alto, Calif., a student newspaper quoted a high school junior on his feelings about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Read more

Public figure hurdle remains high

Courts in two recent cases have reaffirmed that university professors and administrators are public figures who face heavy burdens when trying to claim they were harmed by information published or circulated about them. Read more

Ark. professor files defamation suit against students

A tenured law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock believes his students caused substantial and irreparable injury to his reputation. So he is taking them to court. Read more

Libel in brief

Former student plans appeal in suit against Colo. prosecutor COLORADO -- A former University of Northern Colorado student will appeal a federal judge's decision to dismiss his lawsuit against a prosecutor to the 10th U.S. Read more

A new year and a new path

When student editors decide to go it alone, the road can be a rocky one. At Quinnipiac University, Jason Braff looks at his online publication’s bank account. It’s empty. Meanwhile, Aaron Montoya of Colorado State University wrangles with the Internal Revenue Service as Bobby Melok of Montclair State University sits with his lawyer drafting paperwork. Read more

Dirty words

Kalyn Feigenbaum was sitting in the DJ’s chair at Pennsylvania State University’s WKPS radio when it happened. Through the driving bass line and shattering cymbal crashes, she heard it come over the airwaves as though it was a hand slapping her in the face. Read more

College censorship in brief

IN THE COURTS Editors sue school, student government over budget cutback GEORGIA -- Editors at The Inkwell, Armstrong Atlantic State University's student newspaper, filed a lawsuit against the university and its Student Government Association in June accusing the school of stifling their right to free speech. Angela Mensing, former editor in chief of The Inkwell, claimed the university slashed the newspaper's budget for 2008-09 year because of the paper's aggressive and critical approach to covering the school administration and SGA. "The university didn't like our content choices, they didn't like the stories and they didn't like the way we covered the student government," Mensing said. In March, the university's student government cut the amount The Inkwell receives from student fees by $14,760. Read more

Web publishing carries promise and pitfalls

Click here for the updated legal guide Read more


In the story "Private police facing greater public scrutiny" in the Spring 2008 SPLC Report, Massachusetts state Sen. Read more