Student Press Freedom Day — Feb. 26, 2021

What are YOU doing to celebrate? Now’s the time to start making plans! Make sure to use #StudentPressFreedom on social media.

We’ll be posting more information soon about 2021 activities.

Quick Links:
What is Student Press Freedom Day?
Why do we need Student Press Freedom Day?
Toolkit: Student Press Freedom Day images
Main Event: New Visions of the Future of Press Freedom
Op-ed campaign
Event ideas / Ways to participate
Event grants
Student Press Freedom in the news
Student Press Freedom Day endorsers

What is Student Press Freedom Day?

Student Press Freedom Day is a national day of action when we celebrate the contributions of student journalists and highlight the need to support their independence without censorship or threat to their advisers.

Why do we need Student Press Freedom Day?

For more than three decades, far too many student journalists have been censored by image-conscious school administrators, or intimidated to self-censor or not report on “controversial” topics that matter to their peers and community.

The legacy of the 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision is a shameful one. Students across the country are demanding reform at the state level. 

Fourteen states have enacted “New Voices” legislation to protect the First Amendment press rights of student journalists and prevent against their advisers and teachers. Grassroots nonpartisan coalitions powered by students and other volunteers have taken root in many other states.

A record number of states introduced New Voices legislation in 2019. Yet, too often legislators and the public seem to misunderstand the important role student journalists play in the community and the value of your independent reporting.

So, let’s show them.

Theme: This Is What Student Press Freedom Looks Like

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the role of student journalists (breaking national stories in Arizona or grappling with difficult ethical issues at Northwestern). It’s important for everyone to understand the impact of student journalists, the hard work journalists and advisers do, and the challenges you face.  

This year’s theme for Student Press Freedom Day is “This is What Student Press Freedom Looks Like”  Help the world understand the work you do and why you do it, and let SPLC help amplify your message. 

Toolkit: Student Press Freedom Day images

To make your life easier, we’ve created Twitter, Facebook and Instagram images for Student Press Freedom Day. We’ve also created cover photos for Twitter and Facebook. We hope you’ll use them when you post about Student Press Freedom Day!

New Visions of the Future of Press Freedom — an event at the National Archives

This event is free, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Presented in partnership with the National Archives, “New Visions of the Future of Press Freedom” will bring together prominent high school and college journalists on Jan. 29 to envision what the future of a free press looks like and to discuss current challenges to student press freedom and the First Amendment. Student journalists have suddenly been thrust into the middle of the press freedom debates as they are filling gaps in “news deserts” and, with their peers, serving as watchdogs on key civic issues of our time. 

Moderated by television journalist Joie Chen (CNN, CBS News), the panel will include Maya Goldman, editor-in-chief of the Michigan Daily, Neha Madhira, former editor-in-chief of the Eagle Nation Online at Prosper High School (Texas), Joe Severino, former news editor at the DA (at West Virginia University), and Kristine Guillaume, the outgoing president of the Harvard Crimson. Join us to hear new perspectives on the future of the First Amendment from the leaders of the next generation.

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2012
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: William G. McGowan Theater (Washington, D.C.)

Join the op-ed campaign

In 2019, nearly 70 student newsrooms wrote editorials on the importance of student press freedom. This year, we want to hear from YOU!

Write an op-ed based on the theme “This is What Student Press Freedom Looks Like.” Then, email Danielle Dieterich at with the subject line “SPFD editorial submission” and a link to your editorial or tweet it at us using #studentpressfreedom.

Event ideas / ways to participate

Here are a few ideas to get you started. We encourage you to build on these, and get creative with ideas of your own:

  • Write an op-ed for your local community news organization, or pen an editorial for your own publication.
  • Create a “Day in the Life (or week)” video following student journalists and showing how they create their work
  • Create a photo essay documenting what it takes to produce your media
  • Discuss a story you produced that was important to your community and why
  • See if you have a New Voices grassroots campaign in your state and coordinate activities with it. Or, if you are one of 14 states with a New Voices law, create an activity that celebrates and calls attention to it.
  • Make a short video explaining your challenges and successes
  • Hold an event at your school to discuss press freedom and the First Amendment
  • Print t-shirts or make bracelets or create flyers or other tools to raise visibility and awareness of #studentpressfreedom
  • Invite your state legislators to visit your classroom or newsroom
  • Get an SPLC expert to join you as part of our Virtual Speakers Bureau to educate your newsroom/classroom/community about student press freedom

Student Press Freedom in the news

Rampant student press censorship highlighted on WAMU, NPR’s Washington, D.C. affiliate

On Jan. 16, 2020, the Kojo Nnamdi Show featured SPLC Executive Director Hadar Harris and Kate Karstens, a college journalist at The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Listen here.

Karstens was censored while a student journalist with The Lasso at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia. There is New Voices legislation pending  in Richmond, Va. that would ensure student journalists have basic First Amendment rights. 

Washington Post story highlights student news media censorship and solutions offers by New Voices legislation

Virginia Delegate Chris Hurst introduced a version of New Voices legislation last year, but it died in a 5-to-3 subcommittee vote. He attributes the failure to some lawmakers’ belief that young people are not sufficiently mature to make news judgments, an argument he finds ridiculous.

“If we trust students to use a lathe in a wood shop, or a blowtorch in a technical education course,” Hurst said, “why are we so afraid of giving them a pen?” Full story here.

Student Press Freedom Day Grants

The Student Press Law Center established grants of up to $300 to help students and advisers hold public events or campaigns on or around Student Press Freedom Day. (Deadline was Jan. 13, 2020.)

The grant recipients will put on 14 programs in 10 states, ranging from community roundtables to press freedom trivia contests to “Day in the Life” videos and photo essays. Follow SPLC and #studentpressfreedom on social media January 29 to see them in action, and check back here soon to see how the events went.

Grant recipients: Reports must be filed and receipts submitted electronically to by February 5, 2020.



Email Director of Engagement, Diana Mitsu Klos, at for help. Good luck, and we can’t wait to see your creativity.

Student Press Freedom Day endorsers