Meet SPLC’s new legal fellow, Ellen Goodrich

white logo saying SPLC and Student Press Law Center on a bright blue background

The Student Press Law Center is excited to welcome one of Duke University School of Law’s inaugural 2023 Farrin Fellowship recipients Ellen Goodrich to our team as a legal fellow. After her first week at SPLC, Goodrich shared a welcome message to the SPLC community and more about what she’s looking forward to in her new role.

I am so excited to begin my work with the Student Press Law Center as a legal fellow! As a former student journalist and a lawyer interested in First Amendment and education law, I’m looking forward to combining all of those interests in a way that helps student journalists understand and assert their rights.

I worked as the editor-in-chief for my high school’s yearbook and my experiences on the staff led me to continue my student journalism career at the University of Missouri. At Mizzou, I reported on a variety of topics ranging from Trisomy 18 to heat stress in cows, to producing a documentary about Pedro Zamora, reality TV and how representation in the media can lead to policy change. And during that time, I realized just how important lawyers are to the journalism process.

Each week in my investigative reporting class, guest speakers joined our class to explain their reporting process. Early on, I noticed that each speaker mentioned how they had to run every story by their newspaper’s legal department. Without a lawyer’s review of their stories, these investigations would never have been published, and I wanted to be a part of that work.

I had such a positive experience as a student journalist and made some of my best friends working on publications together. Not only is student media a great experience for the students involved, but it also provides a necessary service to those who consume it. While student journalists’ work is critical in informing their own campuses, in some areas, student journalists are also the only journalists reporting on surrounding communities. The work they do is vital in filing news deserts and creating an informed citizenry, and I’m excited to connect with these students through my work assisting with legal hotline calls, giving presentations for SPLC in the Classroom and working with SPLC’s advocacy team on New Voices efforts, specifically in North Carolina where I attended law school.

In all of the work that I do at SPLC, I look forward to supporting the next generation of student journalists across the country through the law, ensuring that they have the legal support they need to confidently publish their stories and take action for student press freedom.