Theft of free-distribution newspapers by those who object to the newspaper's content is a frequent problem for the college student media. Although the SPLC believes that newspaper thieves can be prosecuted in most jurisdictions under existing theft laws, in 1994 Maryland became the first state to pass a law explicitly criminalizing the taking of free newspapers.
In 2018, Washington became the 14th state to sign a law protecting the rights of student journalists.
The Student Journalists’ Freedom of Expression Act was introduced on February 16, 2017, and signed into law by Governor Gina Raimondo on July 18, 2017.
The Nevada New Voices legislation was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval on June 2, 2017 and became effective on October 1, 2017.
Vermont New Voices legislation was incorporated into House Bill 513, which was signed into law by Governor Phil Scott on May 23, 2017.
After passing the Illinois legislature with unanimous support, the Illinois New Voices Act was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on July 29, 2016.
On April 26, Governor Lawrence Hogan signed Maryland's New Voices bill into law, protecting the free expression rights of high school and college journalists.
North Dakota's John Wall New Voices Act ensures the free-speech rights of journalism students in North Dakota public schools and colleges.
The News & Observer, along with seven other North Carolina and national media groups, including The Daily Tar Heel, requested access to records from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after football players were accused of receiving improper benefits from agents. A university tutor was also accused of providing inappropriate assistance on academic assignments and providing illegal benefits for players.