Responding to the haters

Heightened with the prevalence of online commenting, student journalists frequently receive pushback from their own work. Often, the adversaries are their own peers. Read more

Shaking the foundation: Fighting for access to university nonprofit foundations

Public universities use private nonprofits to raise money. In order to track donor influence, one group is fighting for more access. Read more

The labor beat: How student journalists cover campus workplaces

Student journalists often face challenges when reporting on campus workers and workplaces. Read more

Yak flak: How should schools respond to students' anonymous speech?

New technology means new worries. Schools are grappling with how to respond to students' anonymous speech in the Yik Yak era. Read more

A plea for help: Student publications try to raise money online

Like professional newspapers, student publications nationwide are strapped for cash. In an effort to stop the bleeding, some have turned to the Internet to ask for help.  Read more

A catalyst for reform: North Dakota's new anti-Hazelwood law has rebuilt a national movement

North Dakota's lawmakers have approved an anti-Hazelwood law to protect students' speech rights, helping rebuild a national movement.  Read more

Teacher talk: Professors' fight to speak openly often isn't easy

Across the country, attacks on academic freedom have ended up in court and in policy changes as professors fight to speak openly. Read more

Hip-hop hassle: How the lyrics of two violent rap songs could redefine your online free-speech protections

After the Supreme Court ruled on Elonis in June, free-speech advocates worry about potential consequences on student social media speech.  Read more

Unpaid journalism internships: Employers react to wave of legal challenges

Some observers have predicted that the end of the unpaid internship is not far away — here's a summary and an analysis of the recent legal developments.  Read more

Accessing personnel records: A balancing act between privacy, public’s right to know

This article looks at the frustrating obstacles journalists often face in trying to obtain access to personnel-related records from college and schools. While the law sometimes entitles these agencies to withhold highly embarrassing or confidential documents, it’s an oversimplification to say – as many agencies do – that “personnel” is a blanket excuse for denying a public-records request. Read more

FERPA defense play: Universities often cite the federal student privacy law to shield athletic scandals

At the University of Oregon, Vanderbilt University and the University of Montana, FERPA was cited to withhold records and information related to sexual assault allegations. FERPA was even cited at Florida State University to withhold records about Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been accused of sexual assault in December 2012. Read more

Under the dome: As professional news outlets vacate state capitols because of budget constraints, student journalists move in to fill the gap

In four states, student journalists outnumber journalists from professional outlets assigned to the statehouse full-time, where they ensure citizens have access to information about how the state spends their tax dollars and decisions on education, criminal justice and safety regulations. Read more

Nudes you can use: What happens when college news organizations choose to bare it all?

Each school year, student newspaper staffs publish nude images. While some argue the images accurately convey a newsworthy event, others are published to be edgy, like at the University of Buffalo, where the student newspaper’s annual sex issue features articles about sexual health and related topics. Often accompanying the articles are sexually explicit images some people argue are unsettling to see in a newspaper. Read more

Are body-mounted cameras the answer for transparency in police departments?

Despite a promise of increased transparency in police activities, state public records laws may shield the footage from the public. Footage likely won’t be released if it is part of an ongoing investigation or if certain details, such as the identities of victims in sensitive situations, cannot be redacted. Read more

Nontraditional focus: Student newspapers grapple with a shifting demographic

With added responsibilities and differing life experiences, nontraditional students — a growing population — often feel they are not well represented in their student newspaper. When nontraditional students join the newspaper staff, however, they are often able to broaden the organization’s news coverage. Read more

In Texas, access delayed: Public records appeal process invites abuse

Texas law starts with the assumption that a requestor is owed records within 10 days. But asking the attorney general for an opinion stops the clock and can push the agency’s response time back by a month-and-a-half — which makes the process vulnerable to manipulation by an agency seeking to run out the clock on a deadline-sensitive request. Read more

Active voice: SPLC project strives to empower women in student media

Nabiha Syed, a media attorney for Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP, and a member of SPLC’s Board of Directors, introduced Active Voice, an SPLC project that aims to help young women who face challenges in speaking out. Read more

'Publicly funded,' not publicly accountable

Delaware and Pennsylvania are the only states with open records exemptions for “publicly funded” or “state-related” universities — institutions that receive taxpayer dollars but receive a majority of their funding from private donors. The laws permit UD, Delaware State and four other institutions — University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University and Lincoln University — to limit what information the public has access to. Read more

Protections inconsistent for student journalists who withhold names of sources

Most journalists avoid using anonymous sources, with many schools discouraging it in nearly all situations. But student journalists often find that the only way to attack controversial or sensitive — but significant — issues in schools, is to turn to anonymous sources. Read more

FERPA amendment would establish ‘safeguards’ for student data privacy

As the prevalence of student data collection in educational institutions increases, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act’s use is once again in question. And while the proposed changes may not further restrict journalists’ access records, they also don’t alleviate any challenges. Read more

As school officials work to counter cyberbullying, state lawmakers ensure student off-campus privacy isn’t trampled

While school officials often say such searches are necessary to combat cyberbullying and other illegal activity, several lawmakers and free speech advocates argue efforts to regulate off-campus speech are an invasion of students’ privacy. Read more

Muting the airwaves: As colleges sell off their radio stations, student deejays grapple with their identities in the digital age

College radio stations, home to aspiring broadcast journalists and deejays, have reached an existential crisis — whether or not terrestrial radio, or analog, benefits their organizations any longer. Read more

Protections for student journalists in critical care

An eye-popping July 2014 report from the Pew Research Journalism Project, “America’s Shifting Statehouse Press,” documents the near-extinction of the statehouse press corps across America: Since 2003 – and state governments were under-covered even then – the number of full-time reporters working in state Capitols is down 35 percent. Read more

Advocating for student rights for 40 years

As the SPLC celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, Executive Director Frank LoMonte said there are too many goals he needs to reach before he can even consider stopping. He said he wants to focus on larger policy issues which would allow student journalists across the country to do their jobs with fewer barriers. Read more

SPLC marks four decades of unleashing captive voices

On October 16, 2014, supporters of a free and courageous student press from around the country will gather at the National Press Club to mark the SPLC’s 40 years of service to our shared priorities. Read more

Marijuana still sensitive topic at many schools even as states move to legalize

Prompted by the legalization of recreational marijuana use in two states, students are more interested than ever in writing about the subject. Many, though, still encounter hurdles when reporting on the drug. Read more

In interest of appearing united, some school boards limit members’ speech

When policies ask school board members to refer all questions to a sole member, it can make it difficult to find out information about the decisions the board is making, reporters say. Read more

Censorship takes the stage: Topical plays draw criticism from officials

After administrators put student productions of “Rent,” “Sweeney Todd” on the chopping block due to sensitive subjects, students and dramatists push back, defending the importance of theater. Read more

For education reporters, PR staff increasingly limit access to sources

Student and professional journalists alike report increasing difficulty when it comes to accessing sources. In response, college newspaper editors say they now teach their staff to have the ‘confidence’ to push back. Read more

At FAU, student journalists report persistent difficulties accessing public records

Even simple records requests are held up by delays and high costs, say journalists at Florida Atlantic University. The problems have been worsening over the past few years, in particular for one student. Read more