Current Status: North Dakota has a New Voices law. The first law to be called “New Voices,” it protects public school and public college student journalists from censorship and protects from retaliation advisers who refuse to infringe on their students’ free press rights. Want to further strengthen student press freedom in North Dakota? Email the SPLC’s Advocacy and Organizing Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know Your Rights
Who is protected from censorship?
All school-sponsored publications are protected at North Dakota’s public schools, public colleges and public universities. This includes newspapers, yearbooks, literary magazines, podcasts, broadcast, and more.
Student media advisers and other school employees are protected from professional consequences for refusing to censor student media or override their students’ publication decisions.
What work can be censored?
Your work can only be restricted if it:
- is libelous, slanderous or obscene;
- constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
- violates federal or state law; or
- so incites students as to create the clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school or state board of higher education policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.
What happens if I’m being censored?
Try to get any communication from your school in writing, or write down your own memory of events as they happen. Contact the Student Press Law Center immediately.
Join the Movement
- Know your press freedom rights and make sure others do as well. Spread the word about North Dakota’s New Voices laws on social media and in your newsroom.
- Help your colleagues better understand student press freedom by inviting an SPLC expert to join you: SPLC In The Classroom.
- North Dakota law requires your school board to have a written student journalism policy. Locate a copy of this policy. (You can use this toolkit to help you find it and some examples of red flags to look out for.) If the policy seems like it endorses censorship or doesn’t match the New Voices law, let SPLC know!
- Advocate for even more student press freedom. Is the law not good enough? Talk with SPLC’s New Voices Advocacy and Organizing Team (email@example.com) about gaps you see in the law and how we can work to make it stronger.