Back to School 2020

As you head back to the classroom and newsroom for what will surely be a very abnormal new school year, SPLC is here to help however we can.

For legal help, including how to respond to censorship, libel reviews, advice for access issues or media law questions of any kind, contact SPLC’s free legal hotline.

SPLC attorneys are answering your top legal questions about reporting on COVID-19 as a student journalist each week in our segment “Ask SPLC.”

We’ve added new Virtual Speaker Bureau options — book an SPLC expert to speak to your class about covering coronavirus, covering protests, media law staples like copyright and public records, or have an open Q&A. Speakers will join you for up to 40 minutes.

To stay in the loop year-round on the latest news about student media, be sure to subscribe to SPLC’s weekly newsletter.

Top tools for fall 2020:


COVID-19 Toolkit

Learn More

Student Media

Financial Strategies

Learn More

Guide to

Covering Protests

Learn More

Help restore and protect student press freedom in your state:
New Voices is a student-powered nonpartisan grassroots movement of state-based activists who seek to protect student press freedom with state laws. Learn more about the status of student press freedom in your state, and how to get involved in New Voices.

Has your administration used FERPA to restrict access to important COVID-related information? Use this letter to fight back:
Many times administrators cite FERPA as a reason to restrict access to information which the public is entitled to receive. During the pandemic, we see FERPA being used inappropriately to deny important information to student media. SPLC has developed this letter for you to download and send (or give) to administrators when they misapply FERPA to prevent you from obtain information to which you have lawful access.

Considering creating a policy about reporting in-person during COVID-19? Here is some guidance:
SPLC provides you with suggested language to guide you should you decide to implement newsroom policies regarding how staff members and contributors conduct their reporting during this global health crisis.

Get public records about COVID-19 using SPLC’s FOI request letter generator:
Student journalists’ role as watchdogs is more important than ever during COVID. Use this tool to craft more effective public records requests. And, if your request is ignored or denied, contact SPLC’s legal hotline for additional help.

Teaching resources

The start of the school year is an important time for advisers to set the tone for your relationship with your students, and ensure the student journalists you advise have a solid grasp of student media law.

• Our guide to having “The Talk” with students about the limits of your role as an adviser and how they’ll need to lead certain fights themselves.
Media adviser tip sheet
Resources for teaching remotely
Sometimes an adviser’s ignorance is bliss (or at least safer)
PowerPoint presentations about copyright, student press freedom, public records and more
How to handle secret sources and confidential information
Media advisers and the law
“Advisers at Risk” webinar
Responding to censorship. Here’s a more detailed guide
• High schools: Establish student media as a forum for student expression
• Colleges: Policies to protect student press freedom

Know your rights

Strong journalism is your best defense! Here are a few resources to make sure you know the law and understand your rights.

Use our quizzes to evaluate your understanding of media law
How to proactively confront censorship
• Top 10 FAQ from high school journalists
• Top 10 FAQ  from college journalists
• Top 10 FAQ from yearbook students
Student Media Guide to Internet Law
Avoiding plagiarism in student media