FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2018
Contact: Diana Mitsu Klos, director of engagement (202) 728-7267/ firstname.lastname@example.org / @SPLC
The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) is concerned about the recent situation wherein an official of the University of Southern California briefly restricted a journalist for the Daily Trojan newspaper from taking notes and reporting on a public forum for students, staff and faculty regarding the search for a new university president. The following is a statement from Student Press Law Center Executive Director Hadar Harris:
When a university public relations department demands that student journalists don’t cover legitimate news, or when it limits the way in which student journalists determine their coverage, they prevent journalists from doing their job. Not only does it limit the fundamental rights of journalists to report the news, but it contravenes their rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information.
The situation at USC is part of a troubling trend that we at the SPLC have seen from coast to coast, in both public and private schools, where the role of journalists is disrespected and student journalists are ordered to only present their schools in the most positive light. While this situation did not exactly do that, it is a slippery slope: the administration blocked student journalists from accurately reporting the substance of a meeting open to students and, in that way, undermined their journalistic commitment to truth and transparency.
We are pleased that the USC administration quickly remedied this mistake and allowed the Daily Trojan reporters to do their job. We hope that in the future they will remember that reporting truth and providing access to newsworthy information is a public service — not a public threat.
Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been the nation’s only legal assistance organization devoted exclusively to supporting the student news media in covering important issues free from censorship. The SPLC trains high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment and also works with journalism advisers and school administrators to support student media. A nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c(3), the SPLC provides free legal resources and information as well as low-cost educational materials for student journalists on a wide variety of topics at splc.org.