“Just because the word student is in front of the description does not mean that we aren’t real reporters doing real work.”

A recent story by Teen Vogue highlights the accomplishments of student reporters so comprehensively and so well that we had to share it with you.  

The story points out things we've featured in this newsletter like the Arizona State student newspaper breaking a story about Ukraine, and the Since Parkland project, where students reported stories on American youth killed by guns in the year after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. It also cites student journalists filling in news deserts and battling censorship.
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SPLC and National Archives team up for Student Press Freedom Day event on in D.C.

A “New Visions of the Future of Press Freedom” panel will bring together high school and college journalists to envision the future of a free press and to examine current challenges to student press freedom.

The event is free, but if you're in the Washington, D.C. metro area, we encourage you to reserve your seat. The panel starts at noon at the National Archives McGowan Theater. It will also be livestreamed on YouTube.
Event details

Washington Post coverage of New Voices shows rampant censorship in Virginia

“If we trust students to use a lathe in a wood shop, or a blowtorch in a technical education course, why are we so afraid of giving them a pen?” said Virginia Delegate Chris Hurst, a former journalist turned lawmaker who introduced the state's New Voices bill. 

The Washington Post recently reported on the rampant censorship in Virginia and the need for a New Voices law to protect student journalists in the state. Virginia is just one of many states in which SPLC's New Voices Organizer Hillary Davis is working with advocates to try and pass legislation in 2020. The Post story gives a great overview of why student journalists desperately need these protections.
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Want more New Voices updates?

Subscribe to our newly launched New Voices newsletter, and receive monthly updates about progress being made in key states, as well as tips and strategies for supporters like you. At the bottom of this email, click "update your preferences" then scroll down and select "Monthly New Voices updates."

Q: Am I required to explain why I want a particular record when submitting an open records request?

A: Almost always, states and the federal government FOI laws make clear that the motivation behind an open records request is irrelevant. Recordkeepers, most laws say, may not even ask such a question. There are a few quirks, but for student journalists engaged in bona fide news reporting (no matter the topic), they should present no barrier. 

For example, a couple of states treat requests for data that will be used for commercial profit differently, sometimes charging extra fees. Also, Kansas and Montana have both had odd cases handed down (older cases — but still on the books) where judges have allowed government agencies to examine whether the interest in the information is legitimate or sufficient to overcome competing interests in secrecy. Kansas, for example, apparently limits the right of the public to inspect governmental records to those situations where “there is a laudable object to accomplish or a real and actual interest in obtaining the information.” (Such a provision should not present a barrier to Kansas student media engaged in newsgathering.)

If your motives or purposes for requesting public information is questioned, you are right to push back and reach out to the SPLC's free legal hotline here.

See previous Ask SPLC answers

Support SPLC

High school and college news organizations can show their support for SPLC's legal hotline and other core services by becoming a memberYour individual donations help us defend the rights of student journalists and their advisers across the country. 
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