How SPLC supported students in 2020
2020 brought challenges for all of us, and student journalists found themselves at the center of the biggest stories and issues of the year. At every step, they rose to the occasion, and SPLC acted quickly and decisively to meet their changing needs. Read more about our work in 2020 supporting student through the COVID-19 pandemic, a summer of racial justice protests and targeting by police, an escalating financial crisis for student media and the fight for New Voices laws to protect student press freedom.
See our “SPLC in 2020” document for more. (Click for full size)
- When their school shut them down, SPLC helped Utah high school journalists publish an investigation into why a teacher was fired -
The Student Press Law Center’s Senior Legal Counsel, Mike Hiestand, helped the students file public records requests and obtain records for their investigation. Heistand also provided advice about challenging the censorship.
- SPLC intervention spurred the University of Mary Washington to restore student newspaper funding -
“The SPLC helped me and my editorial staff to understand the illegality of the situation and the rights we have as student journalists.”
- High school journalists in San Gabriel, Calif. enlist SPLC to battle censorship and adviser’s suspension -
"With the guidance of the SPLC, my fellow student journalists and I learned about what protections we had as student journalists and what we could and could not do to fight administrative overreach."
- Censored college journalists in Iowa get SPLC’s help to sue college and launch an independent newspaper -
"Other student journalists and I created our own independent newspaper called the Spotlight so we could write investigative news pieces that are controversial. Without the SPLC, the Spotlight would have never gotten off the ground. The SPLC has helped cultivate my love for the universal right of free speech."
- After controversial stories are cut, student journalists in Kentucky contact SPLC and launch an underground newspaper -
"We were so grateful that an organization like the SPLC existed to back us up. I don’t think we would have had the confidence to found, print and continue to work on our independent magazine without the help and support of the SPLC."
- New Jersey high school reporter’s investigative piece was censored for three months – until SPLC intervened -
"If sunlight is the best disinfectant, then you ought to be the sunlight. In other words, be a champion of your own cause by making sure that your voice is heard."
- After being punished with a funding cut after an investigative story runs in Memphis, pressure from SPLC helps get money restored -
"When SPLC attorneys drafted legal responses to the university's actions of seemingly harassing a student for reporting unfavorable news and cutting the newspaper's funding based on its content, the university president at the time started to listen."
- High school paper in Wisconsin slapped with a prior review policy after publishing a story on rape culture; SPLC’s model guidelines soon replace policy -
"The SPLC helped me realize that what I was fighting for was important. With their support, we were able to overturn the prior review policy and return Cardinal Columns to the rightful hands of student journalists."
- High school journalists in Pa. punished for refusal to print the word “Redskins;” SPLC joins journalists in protracted struggle against retaliation, censorship -
Editors of Neshaminy High School’s student newspaper, The Playwickian, decided to ban the school’s mascot name, the Redskins, from publication on the grounds that it was a racist term.
- SPLC helps reverse suspension of college student editor at Western Illinois University - "The Student Press Law Center was there when I needed help and guidance. I really had no where else to go, and no one else to seek help from."
A few words from our friends and fans
- From a column by The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan:
“In recent months, millions of dollars in donations have rained down upon journalism organizations … But one tiny outfit, working out of a windowless Washington office, has not benefited. That’s unfortunate since its constituency — vast numbers of high school and college journalists — is far bigger than the number of professional journalists.”
- From a Columbia Journalism Review story: “Groups like the SPLC —dedicated to First Amendment and media law, and doing impactful work, but not as well known as some of its bigger brethren — deserve attention.”