Winter 2002-03

Principal, student win courage award

A former high school student newspaper editor from Arkansas and a high school principal from Missouri received the fifth annual Courage in Student Journalism Awards presented by the Newseum, the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association.\n\nThe awards were presented to Holly Ballard, formerly senior editor of the Bryant High School student newspaper in Alexander, Ark., and Julie Leeth, principal of Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo., at the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association Fall Convention in Dallas on Nov. Read more

Hosty v. Carter:

The devastating effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1988 Hazelwood decision restricting the First Amendment rights of high school journalists just keep coming. Read more

On Edge

The face of collegiate free speech could change in 2003.\n\nThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago will determine if the free expression rights of college students are in fact greater than those of students in high school. Read more

Campus speech rules scrutinized by courts, students, advocates

College students across the nation are helping strike down policies that restrict speech and expression on school property by mounting court battles and staging campus protests. Read more

Court says thesis must follow guidelines

CALIFORNIA ' A three-judge federal appellate court panel has ruled that colleges can limit student speech in academic work after a graduate student attempted to criticize administrators in his master's thesis. Christopher Brown sued the University of California at Santa Barbara claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated when university officials withheld his master's degree. Read more

NCAA: Student press can cover recruits

NORTH CAROLINA ' The National Collegiate Athletic Association has reversed a long-standing policy that had ignored the right of collegiate newspapers to interview high school student-athlete recruits. The policy was changed in September after the NCAA initially said the University of North Carolina at Charlotte violated a bylaw when its student-run Web site, NinerOnline, published several articles about sports recruits. Read more

Mich. college forces paper to drop election endorsements

MICHIGAN ' Administrators at Washtenaw Community College forced the campus newspaper to pull an editorial endorsement for three board of trustees candidates in the Nov. Read more

Fraternity unpunished for theft, harassment

FLORIDA ' After all 9,000 copies of the University of Miami's student newspaper, The Hurricane, were stolen more than a year ago, editor in chief Jordan Rodack thought the thieves would be punished as the university promised. Read more

Court rules fee distribution constitutional

WISCONSIN ' A federal appeals court ruled in October that the system the University of Wisconsin uses to distribute mandatory student fees to campus organizations is constitutional. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Read more

Murray St. orders review at TV station

KENTUCKY ' Administrators at Murray State University implemented an editorial review board in October for its student-run television station after one official claimed that an animated cartoon that aired was racist. The television station, TV-11, is required to have a 12-person editorial board that will preview all opinion, editorial and entertainment-based material at least 48 hours before its scheduled broadcast, said Jeanne Scafella, chairperson for the journalism and mass communications department. Read more

UC-San Diego cites Patriot Act over 'terrorist' link on Web site

CALIFORNIA ' Administrators at the University of California at San Diego have backed off their claims that a student organization's Web site was in violation of the U.S.A. Read more

School threatens prior review after condom story

UTAH ' Student journalists at Southern Utah University are resting a little easier, as it appears administrators are backing off their claims that they have a legal right to control the student newspaper's content. In September, the University Journal criticized the limited availability of condoms on campus, stirring administrators to threaten prior review of the newspaper. Read more

Student senate tells paper to be 'gentlemanly'

INDIANA ' A conservative magazine at Wabash College lost its funding and its standing as a recognized student organization in November after the student senate said its content was 'ungentlemanly.' One month later, the senate agreed to re-instate the magazine's funding, a move which was sought by student editors and First Amendment advocates. The Wabash Commentary was still placed on probation during the Dec. Read more

Newspaper thieves stifle content

Every year, student journalists across the country experience an age-old form of censorship through newspaper theft. Read more

Berkeley mayor commits theft to snuff Daily Cal endorsement

CALIFORNIA ' A month after 1,000 copies of the University of California at Berkeley's student newspaper were stolen, the city's mayor was charged with a criminal infraction for the theft. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates admitted in December to being involved in stealing and trashing copies of the Nov. Read more

Tufts thief ordered to pay paper

MASSACHUSETTS ' The Primary Source at Tufts University in Medford filed a complaint against Carl Jackson, former president of the Pan-African Alliance for stealing at least 1,000 copies of the November 2001 issue. After mediation with the dean of students and dean of judicial affairs in November 2002, Jackson was not suspended but ordered to pay the conservative magazine $522 for damages. 'The payment we consider an admission of involvement,' said Megan Liotta, editor in chief of the Source. She said Jackson was involved with other thefts of the magazine that resulted in the loss of 4,300 copies between October 2001 and January 2002. Read more

Editors resign after threatened

Student journalists at two universities resigned their editor positions this fall because they said administrators bullied them and their staffs by criticizing content and, in one case, threatening budget cuts. Nick Will, editor in chief of Harvard University business school's newspaper, The Harbus, resigned his post in November after administrators threatened to hold him personally accountable for future content that they found offensive. Read more

Koala's suit dismissed

CALIFORNIA ' An independent student newspaper at the University of California at San Diego agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against the university. Read more

Employees confiscates papers to hush crime stories during visits

University personnel at two colleges took matters into their own hands, by trying to silence their student newspaper's crime coverage while parents and prospective students were making visits to campus. During a two-day period in October, student union employees at Marquette University in Wisconsin confiscated nearly 1,000 copies of the student newspaper for carrying the banner headline, 'Savage beating just 2 miles from MU.' High-traffic bins that contained the Marquette Tribune were emptied hours before hundreds of parents were expected to visit the campus during Parents Weekend, said Libby Fry, managing editor. Read more

Mount Saint Mary adviser steps down

MARYLAND ' An award-winning student media adviser at Mount Saint Mary's College, who faced intense pressure from administrators to censor the student newspaper, resigned three weeks before classes resumed this fall. William Lawbaugh was associate professor of communications and adviser for the Mountain Echo and Pridwin yearbook for 15 years before announcing his early retirement effective Aug. Read more

Seven reporters detained during IMF protests; suit filed for "trap and arrest"

WASHINGTON, D.C. ' Seven student journalists were caught up in a wave of mass arrests while covering International Monetary Fund and World Bank demonstrations in late September, stirring criticism of police action. Read more

Dispute over flashes lands Calif. photog in jail

CALIFORNIA ' A student journalist at Chico State University landed behind bars for simply doing his job. Misha Osinovskiy, a photographer with the student newspaper, The Orion, was arrested during Labor Day weekend by an undercover Alcoholic Beverage Control officer while photographing him giving a citation. Read more

Courts uphold expulsions for threats

Two courts have ruled schools have the right to punish students for producing threatening material at home when it is distributed at school. Read more

Cruel & unusual punishments

Pop quiz: You're a high school administrator or faculty member. You feel targeted by critical writers at your student newspaper. Read more

School image, not yearbook, intact

Thanks to the permanent nature of a high school yearbook, staffs who simply mean to impart lasting memories to classmates can find themselves embroiled in particularly bitter censorship battles with administrators trying to protect school image. Students are often left wondering whose book the yearbook is. Read more

'Underground' policy reform surfaces

Administrators at two schools have been forced to clarify their policies regarding underground newspapers after student journalists protested being censored. In the midst of a legal battle over two high school students' right to distribute an underground newspaper in Michigan, the South Lyon Community School Board has approved a definitive policy on student distribution of outside material. The new five-page policy specifically concerns what it calls time, place and manner restrictions, review procedure and content-based restrictions on 'written matter, which is not sponsored or officially endorsed by the district and which is intended for general distribution.' South Lyon High School Principal Larry Jackson suspended three students last spring for trying to distribute their underground newspaper, The First Amendment, at school. Read more

Principal cuts out-of-school circulation

VIRGINIA ' The principal at Middlesex High School has halted the insertion of the high school newspaper into a local daily, drastically cutting circulation and leaving students to question his reasoning. Principal David Bridges said the Big Blue Review should not be considered a public forum for the whole community because it is a learning tool for students. Read more

School affirms speech rights

TEXAS ' A student who sued his school district after he was scolded for writing a letter to the editor of the local paper has agreed to an out-of-court settlement. An agreement was reached after Crosbyton High School student Justin Latimer, his parents, school officials and their lawyers met in December. Read more

Paying the Price

Timm Pilcher, adviser of The Challenger student newspaper at Hoover High School in Des Moines, Iowa, wants to know why he should let an outside party limit what his students report on. Read more

Schools watch Web expression

As high school students grow more Internet savvy, the Web is playing a bigger role as an avenue for student free expression. Administrators are striving to be more watchful for criticism or threats posted online by their students, disciplining those who may cross the line and sometimes ending up in court (See COURTS, page 17). A number of incidents around the country indicate trends in student Web activities and how administrators are reacting. 'Although courts have given school officials broad authority to regulate and punish students' expression while they are in school, teachers and administrators need to recognize that the First Amendment limits their authority to play parent when the students are home,' said Kim Watterson, an attorney working for the American Civil Liberties Union of greater Pittsburgh. Read more

College radio stations play waiting game after new law delays fees for webcasting

Congress has given college radio stations that broadcast on the Internet like Cayuga Community College's WDWN in Auburn, N.Y., a new lease on life. Read more

Court rejects Web site suit

CALIFORNIA ' The California Supreme Court ruled in November that a company could not sue an Indiana college student in a California court for copyright infringement. Read more

In the dark

When Tom Koutsos, a running back for the Southern Illinois University football team, injured his wrist during a game against Murray State, he never thought that disclosure of his injury could violate federal law. Read more

Univ. of Minnesota withholds president finalists, papers sue

MINNESOTA ' A university president can be a school's most important asset, so some schools do not want candidates known to the public until the deal is clinched. Read more

Future meetings of SUNY food service, bookstore opened

NEW YORK ' A New York state trial court judge has ruled that a group that runs a campus food service and bookstore at the State University of New York at Albany is in violation of the open-meetings law and must open future meetings to the public. It was a partial victory for Tony Gray, a SUNY student, who sued University Auxiliary Services in February 2002 after being denied access to board meetings. Read more

Talk show host granted Cornell biotech files

NEW YORK 'A former talk show host has been granted access to Cornell University records, which the private school had argued were not subject to state freedom of information laws. A seven-judge panel for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, unanimously ruled Jeremy Alderson had the right to view biotech records within the Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Read more

Judges orders MU to release audits to Star

MISSOURI ' A state district court judge has ruled in favor of The Kansas City Star in its pursuit of more than 500 internal audit records from the University of Missouri. Read more

Fla. court rules test an education record

FLORIDA ' A circuit court judge ruled in favor of a parent wishing to see her son's test booklet and answer sheet for a statewide standardized exam in September. Read more

Fla. voters limit FOI exemptions in state

FLORIDA ' A state appeals court ruled this summer ruled that a law that restricts public access to autopsy photos in the state is constitutional. Read more

Utah court rejects criminal libel statute; says 'actual malice,' falsity necessary

UTAH ' A 126-year-old statute that made libel a criminal act was ruled overly broad and unconstitutional in November by the Utah Supreme Court. Read more

Colo. Supreme Court rejects 'false-light' claim

COLORADO ' Journalists in Colorado gained more protection against lawsuits resulting from mistakes in reporting. In a 4-3 decision by the Colorado Supreme Court Sept. Read more

Superintendent orders middle school paper to drop political ads

SOUTH CAROLINA ' A school district superintendent cited a policy prohibiting advertising in school publications when he held distribution of Gaffney Middle School's new student paper. Read more

Appeals court rules Rutgers violated policy over alumni ad

NEW JERSEY ' A state appellate court ruled in August that Rutgers Magazine, an official employee-edited publication of Rutgers University, violated the First Amendment rights of an alumni group when it refused to print its advertisement. Read more

Legal guide for the private school press

Click here for the updated legal guide Read more