Spring 2003

Court victories worth celebrating, but fight goes on

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit gave the college press an important victory in April by reaffirming what courts across the country have been saying for decades: public college and university officials can rarely if ever censor student media. Read more

Victory for college press

In April the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit endorsed earlier court rulings that said public colleges and universities cannot demand that content in student-edited publications be reviewed before they are published. In doing so, the court rejected an attempt by the state of Illinois to impose a high school-based censorship standard on college student media. Read more

Slashed budgets threaten journalism programs, papers

But student journalists and advisers at universities and colleges in California and Texas, which are both facing massive statewide cuts, say school officials are using shortfalls as an excuse to eliminate journalism programs because of student newspapers that are critical of their administrations. Read more

Student Government vs. Student Newspaper

The saying goes, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Many student journalists say they are not willing to refrain from publishing articles that could upset their student governments. But when that same body is the one that provides some, if not all, of their funding, situations can get messy. Read more

Race-related material raises free-speech, ethical debate

The spring semester brought a slew of allegations of racism against student newspapers nationwide, adding to several controversies reported in the last year. Students responded to questionable coverage in a variety of ways, while newspaper staffers defended the spoofs, editorials and news stories that landed them under scrutiny. Read more

Paper on hold, staff fired over satirical column

FLORIDA ' Stetson University administrators fired the entire student newspaper staff and suspended the paper's production because they said an April Fool's edition contained racist and sexist material. Read more

Thieves 'trash-talk' papers; editors want culprits bagged

In what has become a routine method of stifling the work of student journalists, thieves nationwide this spring stole and trashed thousands of copies of college newspapers. Read more

No one charged in taped theft

ILLINOIS ' Although editors obtained a security camera videotape of someone throwing away 50 copies of the January edition of The Leader, the student newspaper at Elmhurst College, no one is expected to be charged in the incident. In January, editor in chief Cherie Getchell identified the person on tape as an assistant football coach. Read more

Theft bill fails

INDIANA ' Rep. Tiny Adams, D-Muncie, said he would propose a bill to make newspaper theft a misdemeanor in the future, despite the bill's failure this spring in the state House of Representatives. Read more

Mayor, students penalized for stealing newspapers

CALIFORNIA ' In January the mayor of Berkeley, who admitted to trashing 1,000 copies of the University of California at Berkeley's student newspaper, pled guilty to the offense in an Oakland court. Read more

Court: deputies cannot buy papers to thwart criticism

MARYLAND ' The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in January that off-duty sheriff's deputies violated the Constitution when they purchased nearly all available copies of the St. Read more

Pa. alcohol advetisement ban in college papers allowed by court

PENNSYLVANIA 'Restaurants and bars hoping to draw college crowds by advertising drink specials in local student newspapers received a sobering reminder from a federal district court in February. Read more

High school principal tells paper to remove pregnancy advertisement

MISSOURI ' The Parkway Central High School principal rejected the student newspaper's proposal to run advertising for a pregnancy center in its February edition. Principal Bill Myer said he was concerned that publishing the Pregnancy Resource Center ad, which offered free pregnancy screenings, would force the Corral to accept ads from any reproductive service organization, regardless of their views on abortion or birth control. Read more

High court avoids Hazelwood application to colleges

CALIFORNIA -- The U.S. Supreme Court in March declined to hear a case over the rejection of a graduate student's thesis that could have addressed the application of its Hazelwood standard at the collegiate level. Read more

D.C. police continue arresting tactics

WASHINGTON, D.C. ' During an anti-war rally in the nation's capital March 15, Caroline New, a student journalist from University of Pennsylvania, learned of a rather rowdy group of protesters and began shadowing their movements near the Washington Monument and the White House. Read more

Calif. police arrest credentialed student journalist

CALIFORNIA ' A college newspaper photographer covering anti-war protests in San Francisco was arrested March 20 after police refused to recognize him as a credentialed journalist. Sacramento City College student Nick Varanelli, a photographer for The Express student newspaper, was taking photos of an anti-war demonstration when police barricaded Mission Street in downtown San Francisco and arrested 300 protesters, along with Varanelli. Read more

A double-edged ruling

OHIO ' In a significant legal victory for high school student media, a federal district court judge ruled in February that some student newspapers must be accorded greater legal protection than others. Although Judge James S. Read more

Student, ACLU sue over withheld article

MICHIGAN ' The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit in April on behalf of a Utica High School student journalist who was censored last spring for reporting on residents' claims that school bus diesel fumes were causing health complications. Katherine Dean, currently a senior and managing editor of the Utica High School Arrow, is claiming in her suit that Utica Community Schools and Superintendent Joan Sergent violated her First Amendment rights when they withheld her article from the Arrow. The censored article reported on a lawsuit filed by Shelby Township residents who lived next to the school district's bus depot. Read more

Sacking news coverage

In 1974, veteran journalist Jack Nelson authored Captive Voices, a book produced by the Robert F. Read more

Administrators crack down on student religious expression

Handing out candy canes before winter vacation did not lead to happy holidays for students in Massachusetts. Seven members of Westfield High School's Life and Insight for Eternity Bible club were issued suspensions for distributing candy canes that carried religious messages and information about L.I.F.E. Read more

Indie press assured of rights

Alternative, independent publications offer students new avenues to express their opinions and exercise their First Amendment rights. Read more

Sad state of affairs

From billion dollar budget crises to orange alerts for homeland security, state legislators are busier than ever this session. Read more

Court: off-campus speech protected

PENNSYLVANIA ' A school district policy that allowed administrators to punish students for material they produced off-campus was declared unconstitutional Feb. Read more

Testing confidentiality in courts

It was a long time coming. First there were questions. Then negotiation attempts. Through it all, Pinchas Shapiro knew nothing could be said that would force him to disclose his confidential sources. Read more

Un-covering crime

In April 2002 a student was raped at the University of Wyoming. The student newspaper, The Branding Iron, sought to publish the incident report. Read more

Texas government sheds light on school records

TEXAS ' This year the Texas Office of the Attorney General has supported open government in response to numerous open-records law violations involving schools. 'My commitment to open government is unwavering,' Attorney General Greg Abbott has said. Read more

Colleges close meetings to reporters, two threaten to rebuke protesting papers

Reporters from student newspapers across the country were surprised when the doors to open meetings were slammed in their faces this year. College officials at three schools cited privacy concerns in stonewalling reporters from meetings, and after they protested, some officials went as far as threatening them with legal action. Read more

Court opens college presidential search

MINNESOTA ' Despite a recent district court ruling requiring the University of Minnesota to hand over documents related to its search for a new university president, news organizations will have to wait to find out who was considered for the post. The university's board of regents received a temporary stay from the state court of appeals March 20, putting on hold a ruling by district Judge Pamela Alexander that ordered the names of finalists and other pertinent information to be released by that day. In her March 13 ruling, the Hennepin County District Court judge said that the board of regents had violated the Minnesota Data Practices Act and the Minnesota Open Meeting Law by withholding the names of presidential finalists during the search last November. 'The statutes do not limit the board in who they may select as university president,' Alexander wrote. Read more

Access updates

NEW YORK ' The New York Court of Appeals denied a request to hear Cornell University's latest appeal in a case that will decide whether its biotechnology records are subject to the state Freedom of Information Law. In 2002, a lower court ruled in favor of former radio host Jeremy Alderson, who requested the files because he was concerned that the college was hiding the possible risks of genetically engineered crops from the public. Cornell will now have to prove that each individual record is exempt from freedom of information laws. Read more

Calif. courts toss out libel claims

CALIFORNIA ' State legislation intended to protect expression regarding matters of public concern broke new ground late last year when two appellate panels provided free-speech protections to students and high school media. Two libel cases focusing on the rights of high school students to publish or pass along controversial comments made by classmates were thrown out of the California Court of Appeals in December 2002. Read more

Prosecutor closes case against teen

UTAH ' Criminal defamation charges were dropped against a former Milford High School student in January, ending the case brought against him for derogatory comments he posted online about classmates and his principal. Ian Lake, now a resident of California, was arrested and charged with criminal libel, slander and defamation after commenting on a friend's Web site in 2000 about several students' sexual histories and accusing his high school principal of being the 'town drunk.' Lake spent seven days in a juvenile detention facility. Fifth District Juvenile Court Judge Hans Chamberlain dropped the misdemeanor criminal defamation of character charge on Jan. Read more

Court: minor can consent

FLORIDA ' A federal court ruling late last year that minors have the ability to consent to the use of their images could have broad implications for journalists. The court ruled that the producers of Girls Gone Wild did not violate the rights of then 17-year-old Veronica Lane when they used footage of her exposed breasts in their videos. Read more

Be [prior] advised

When college student publications tackle controversial topics, administrators often take an unprecedented interest in the paper. Newspaper advisers may suddenly find themselves caught between standing up for their students and working to please the administration. Read more

Differing opinions

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