Is my publication responsible for libelous quotes from third parties?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Is my publication responsible for libelous quotes from third parties or libelous statements contributors make, such as in guest columns?A: In print or broadcast media, yes. If you publish it, you are taking ownership of it, regardless… Continue reading Is my publication responsible for libelous quotes from third parties?

Do open meetings laws apply to public school student governments?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Does the student government at my public school have to abide by my state's open meetings laws? A: Maybe. Open meetings laws vary by state, and most courts haven’t specifically ruled on whether state open meetings laws apply… Continue reading Do open meetings laws apply to public school student governments?

Can our newspaper wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Can we wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” in our student publication? Generally, yes. Your school officials or even some of your peers may be quick to cite the separation of church and state as… Continue reading Can our newspaper wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”?

Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight between students at my school?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight that took place on my campus between two students? A: No. FERPA punishes schools that have a policy or practice of disclosing a student's education records without the… Continue reading Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight between students at my school?

Can we use photos of students on our school’s “do not picture” list?

Q: Our school has a group of students on a “do not picture” list because parents did not approve photo releases. Does our publication have to cut out any photographs these students may appear in?  A: Legally, the answer is probably no. The “do not picture list” applies to official publications of the school, and the… Continue reading Can we use photos of students on our school’s “do not picture” list?

What is a “public forum for student expression?”

Q: What is a “public forum for student expression?” A: A student publication is a public forum for student expression when school officials have given student editors the authority to make their own content decisions. This can be accomplished through an official policy or by simply allowing a publication to operate without interference from school officials.… Continue reading What is a “public forum for student expression?”

Can I be punished for fighting censorship at my school?

Q: Can I be punished for fighting censorship at my school? A:  You cannot be punished for speaking out and expressing views opposing those of school officials unless you break laws or school rules in how you choose to fight the censorship. For example, if you organized or participated in a protest that included walking out of… Continue reading Can I be punished for fighting censorship at my school?

Can student journalists claim reporter’s privilege?

Q: Are student journalists allowed to claim reporter’s privilege to protect the identity of their sources? A: State reporter’s privilege laws allow journalists to withhold confidential newsgathering materials from the parties in a criminal investigation or a civil lawsuit. In most states, the shield applies to anyone who regularly gathers and distributes news to the public… Continue reading Can student journalists claim reporter’s privilege?

Ask SPLC: Can police search our newsroom?

Q: Can the police or campus security search our newsroom to get unpublished photos, notes or videos? A: Almost never. The federal Privacy Protection Act makes it illegal for law enforcement officers or government officials to search a newsroom (or anywhere else that newsgathering materials are kept, such as the trunk of a reporter’s car)… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can police search our newsroom?