Spring 2009

Punching holes in FERPA secrecy

To recognize "Sunshine Week," a national commemoration of the vital importance of transparency in government, the journalism interns at the Student Press Law Center conduct an annual "compliance audit" to test whether schools and colleges truly honor their duty to disclose public records. Read more

Press laws: For students, by students

Young journalists with help from legislators, propose anti-Hazelwood bills to restore free press rights. Read more

Playing open records games

The principle behind sunshine laws is simple: Citizens of a democratic nation should be able to find out what decisions are being made by government agencies, including state universities. The reality of using these laws to obtain public documents is much more complex, especially with universities' understaffed offices, reams of paperwork and wariness about releasing anything that might hurt the institution's public image. Read more

Sports reporting not just about scores

The story of college athletics does not end with the final buzzer, and public records can help journalists give their readers the full report. Read more

Yearbooks not so unlike newspapers

The student newspaper focuses on public events and issues. The literary magazine centers on young artists and poets. The student yearbook, however, encompasses every facet of the high school community. Although each of these publications differs in content, all of them typically fall under the same student publication policy set by school administrators. The role of the yearbook, however, can be a confusing one for teachers and administrators, who sometimes fail to treat the yearbook as deserving the same level of journalistic independence as a newspaper. Read more

Important First Amendment cases influencing student media programs today changed individual schools' policies, national free speech law

The First Amendment grants Americans the right to freedom of speech and freedom of press, but the exact boundaries of those rights are determined by the courts. Read more

Let's talk about Sex, etc.

Writing about sex and sexual health issues can be precarious for high school students. Read more

Talking politics on campus

During the year marking the 40th anniversary of the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision that gave high school students the right to free speech inside the schoolhouse gates, controversy surrounding another historic event ‘ the election of President Barack Obama ‘ put Tinker’s promise of free speech under strain. Read more

News of the weird: Censorship comes from all over

Censorship of student speech goes often beyond the pages of student publications. District and federal courts nationwide have heard cases involving students who claimed their right to free expression was violated by high school administrators banning politically charged T-shirts, armbands, buttons and other paraphernalia bearing messages. Read more

FAQ: SPLC's legal geniuses answer the most asked questions

Answering students' most-asked questions. Read more

Fighting the past: Private school's editors battled with school for right to keep archive story online

When the box finally arrived, Falcon editors knew it was more than the server they needed to get their Web site back online. It was a victory. Read more

Weighing fear against rights

Parents and educators trying to crack down on "cyberbullying" tell painful stories about students harassing their classmates with text messages and posting hurtful rumors online ' but as many students are finding out, laws and policies against cyberbullying could open new routes to attack substantive student speech. Read more

Off the mainstream: Looking for an alternative

As mainstream student media across the country fight censorship battles with their school administrations, alternative publications are popping up in steady numbers in response to their own disfavored symbols of authority ' official student newspapers. Read more

Preaching community, censoring news

Late last year, Gerian Steven Moore was terminated from his position as adviser to Chicago State University’s student newspaper, following what he describes as administrative retaliation for his unwillingness to censor the paper’s content. Read more

Emotional coverage

On Dec. 1 of last year, the University of Washington’s Daily doubled the usual size of its Monday edition, but none of the extra column inches included staff-member bylines. Instead, seven full pages were dedicated to reader letters in response to a column printed the prior week. Read more

Trying not to forget: Keeping memories of censorship alive tough with constant newsroom turnover

Constant staff turnover may be a fact of life at student publications, but it puts student journalists at a disadvantage when facing censorship and other conflicts. Read more

Between the devil and the sea

For the handful of college newspapers able to attain it, financial independence from the university is often considered the highest guarantee of editorial freedom. Read more

Getting your day in court: Due process claims may succeed where First Amendment fails

The lines between off-campus and on-campus student speech are becoming blurred, and some courts have ruled that actions that occur outside the schoolhouse gate can still be punished in the principal’s office. Read more