Florida student paper struggles for autonomy from student government

FLORIDA ? When it comes to funding student publications, a state law that allows student government control over the funding of student organizations propagates a power struggle between student journalists and student government officials, and the Florida Atlantic University student newspaper is caught in the center of it.

Student arrested for libel challenges statute in U.S. court

COLORADO -- Thomas Mink, a University of Northern Colorado student who was arrested for criminal libel after he posted an altered photo of a professor on his Web site, has appealed to a federal appeals court to challenge the constitutionality of the state's criminal libel law.

Mink, author of the satirical Web site The Howling Pig, altered a photo of the professor to look like Gene Simmons, lead singer of KISS, and posted the photo on his site, along with a satirical biography of the professor. But Mink's computer was soon confiscated by police and Mink was arrested on the grounds that he violated the criminal libel statute.

Criminal libel statues are different from civil libel laws, which allow victims of libel to seek compensation from speakers.

Fight for Mercer records heats up

Battles for access to campus crime records in Georgia are being waged on two fronts. Proposed Senate Bill 153 would redefine the Georgia Open Records Act to include police records at private schools, while a case involving Mercer University may progress to the Georgia Supreme Court and set a legal precedent for crime records disclosure.

The state Open Records Act defines materials subject to disclosure as "all documents prepared and maintained in the course of operation of a public office or agency" or documents received "on behalf of a public office or agency." A state trial court ruled that private Mercer University had to turn over the records of its campus police department--which operates with official law enforcement authority--under the Open Records Act.

Not-so-smooth criminals

Newspaper theft culprits found out the hard way this year that their attempts to cover up information about a crime by committing another crime can draw more attention to it and some college administrators and law enforcement officials are taking such crimes more seriously.

Shield of Armor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Student journalists may have the law on their side when promising sources anonymity if a recently introduced federal bill, The Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, passes in the House and Senate.

The bill, also known as the Media Shield Law, was introduced by Congressmen Rick Boucher (D.-Va.) and Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) under H.R.