Censorship isn’t always cut and dry. That’s why, for the next few weeks, the Student Press Law Center is highlighting some common red flags — so you can keep an eye out for censorship.
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Are you dealing with these red flags? Have you been overtly censored? SPLC is here to help. Contact our legal hotline for assistance.
“My principal delayed their review of a story long after we wanted to publish it.“
Every national journalism education group condemns mandatory administrative prior review as the wrong way to teach journalism. But the practice is legal in most high schools. (It is illegal at American public colleges and universities.)
Still, there are limits. Administrators cannot use prior review to unreasonably delay a story’s publication. Delaying publication is a common tactic among school officials to make a potentially controversial or unflattering story “go away,” especially if the delay is long enough to make the coverage irrelevant or untimely.
A number of courts have made clear that where prior review is required, the process must include “prompt approval or disapproval of what is submitted,” and a clearly articulated and timely appeals process. One court suggested that any period longer than 48 hours might be unreasonable.
If you’re experiencing censorship, or have a student media law question, head to SPLC’s legal hotline for support.
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