This edition of the SPLC Report marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Tinker decision, in which the Court famously declared that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
Editors of the Eastern Progress, student newspaper for Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky., scored a victory for open records in an appeal to the Kentucky attorney general that challenged the university's redaction of information from campus police reports.
SPLC presented the Courage in Student Journalism Award, co-sponsored by the Newseum and the National Scholastic Press Association, to student editors Jaishri Shankar and Rachel Wagner, adviser Peter Daddone and Principal Debra Munk of Maryland's Rockville High School for their joint efforts in publishing a package of stories exposing gang activity in the neighborhood.
If you did a Google search for the name "Thaddeus Grage" you would find the Indiana University at Bloomington sophomore's name associated with some unsavory allegations on the anonymous gossip Web site JuicyCampus.com.
Across the nation college newspapers are either struggling with money or holding steady in a less-than-perfect economy. While college publications try to keep their advertising revenue and readership up to avoid job cuts and losing publication days, commercial newspapers have fallen behind.
Twitter. It is a name many student journalists coming back from media conventions have heard so often.
In 1969, the Supreme Court established in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that students have the right to freedom of expression at school as long as their expression does not cause "substantial disruption." But when some colleges and universities tried to govern students' rights, those students took the matter to court and, in some cases, prevailed. These cases did not involve the media, but the court rulings may impact student journalism.
Who would have thought that when Illinois-based Solo Cup Co. first introduced the red plastic drinking cup on Nov. 20, 1972, students would be getting reprimanded nearly 35 years later for posing in a photo with the telltale red container?
When former editors at the university-sponsored newspaper, the Chronicle, leaped to an independent, online-only newspaper, Quinnipiac University officials in Hamden, Conn., isolated themselves from the student journalists.
Although graduation day is traditionally a time for celebration and for new beginnings, it can bring an unhappy ending to the legal claims of a student who is challenging school censorship. In general, challenges to school policies must be raised by currently affected students. When a student graduates, a court may dismiss her claims as moot. Several federal appeals courts have agreed. Lane v. Simon, a 2007 case decided by the Tenth Circuit, illustrates how this mootness problem can present serious challenges to student press plaintiffs' ability to secure their First Amendment rights through litigation. But Lane also provided a road map of possible ways to overcome a claim of mootness.