The principle behind sunshine laws is simple: Citizens of a democratic nation should be able to find out what decisions are being made by government agencies, including state universities. The reality of using these laws to obtain public documents is much more complex, especially with universities' understaffed offices, reams of paperwork and wariness about releasing anything that might hurt the institution's public image.
The story of college athletics does not end with the final buzzer, and public records can help journalists give their readers the full report.
When the box finally arrived, Falcon editors knew it was more than the server they needed to get their Web site back online. It was a victory.
Parents and educators trying to crack down on "cyberbullying" tell painful stories about students harassing their classmates with text messages and posting hurtful rumors online ' but as many students are finding out, laws and policies against cyberbullying could open new routes to attack substantive student speech.
Constant staff turnover may be a fact of life at student publications, but it puts student journalists at a disadvantage when facing censorship and other conflicts.
Student journalists in Wisconsin are asking the state attorney general to clarify whether university student government organizations are subject to the state's sunshine laws.
The University of Texas at Austin denied student journalists' public records requests for e-mails between student government officials, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The continuing prevalence of administrative prior review motivated the Journalism Education Association to pass an updated statement denouncing the practice.
Government agencies in New Mexico will have to accept electronic requests for public records after the governor signed a bill April 3 inspired by a state university's rejection of an e-mail request.
Campus police at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., are investigating the theft of April 2 issues of the student newspaper, which featured a controversial photo and headline on the front page.