High school censorship calls soar in 2000

VIRGINIA — Censorship calls to the Student Press Law Center\nfrom public high school journalists rose more than 41 percent\nlast year. According to the Center, 518 public high school student\njournalists or their advisers contacted them in 2000 for legal\nhelp concerning a censorship matter. That number tops the previous\nhigh of 367 recorded during 1999, and marks the sixth straight\nannual increase.

Overall, in 2000 the SPLC staff responded to 2,129 requests\nfrom student journalists and their advisers seeking legal help,\nup 31 percent from the 1,624 calls received the previous year.\nIn addition, the Center responded to 462 requests from individuals\nseeking information only or from news media seeking comment on\nstudent press issues.

Questions about censorship topped the list of concerns of those\nseeking legal help from the SPLC (41 percent), followed by libel\nand privacy law questions (19 percent), freedom of information\nissues (16 percent) and copyright law questions (11 percent).

Calls to the Student Press Law Center came from all 50 states,\nthe District of Columbia and 10 foreign countries. Callers from\nCalifornia (237 calls), New York (184), Pennsylvania (137), Texas\n(122), Virginia (114), Ohio (103), Illinois (98), Missouri (81),\nNew Jersey (80), Florida, Michigan and Washington state (each\nwith 76) topped the list.

Almost 50 percent of those contacting the SPLC during 2000\ndid so via e-mail or through its Web site (www.splc.org), up from\nthe 38 percent who used the Internet to contact the Center during\nthe previous year.

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been the only\nnational legal assistance agency and information clearinghouse\ndevoted exclusively to protecting and educating the student press\nabout their freedom of expression and freedom of information rights.\nThe SPLC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All legal services\nare provided to the student media free of charge.