When criticism and scrutiny hit the newsroom, it is the editor who absorbs much of the flak. Keeping a cool head -- and having a little media savvy -- is important when hoards of protesters are calling for your removal, collegiate press experts say. But having a good understanding of school speech policies, your publication board's bylaws and the law might help more when fighting to keep your job.
It happened after hours, in the dark, when the reporters and editors had all gone home.
For many journalists, the passage of the Free Flow of Information Act through the House of Representatives was an important step in creating the first federal shield law, which would protect journalists from being compelled by federal prosecutors to disclose their sources and other unpublished material in most circumstances.
Only a few hours after the Little Hawk staff distributed its October edition — with a cover story about students' attitudes toward race, including a colorful pie chart indicating 13 percent of students polled viewed blacks unfavorably and 2 percent viewed whites unfavorably — the principal pulled all remaining copies, saying the issue caused a disruption.
Several students around the country felt the chill of censorship as they commented on or showed their support for the "Jena Six" -- the name given to the six black students in Louisiana who activists point to as symbols of racial injustice in the legal system.
Just months after a lone United States Supreme Court Justice said he thought "the Constitution does not afford students a right to free speech in public schools," a federal district judge upheld three students' rights in a modern-day Tinker case, affirming once again that students can wear black armbands as a silent protest and do not lose their First Amendment rights at school.
Production and distribution of Winnacunnet High School's newspaper is back to normal after administrators pulled the February "sex" edition of the paper from the district's middle schools.
Student journalists around the country feared the Hazelwood case — arising from a Missouri principal's decision to censor newspaper articles about teen pregnancy and divorce — would create a "chilling effect" by making it easer for high schools to censor speech, especially in student publications.
Twenty years after the Supreme Court announced its decision in the landmark student press case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, experts still struggle to gauge its impact.
Twenty years later, students, scholastic press advocates -- and administrators -- say Hazelwood has left them under a cloud of confusion about how much power administrators have to censor student speech. What constitutes a "legitimate pedagogical concern" still remains an active topic of debate.