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Student Press Freedom Day 2020

Editorials. Events. Instagram Stories. Newsroom open houses. The Student Press Law Center was thrilled to see all the creative ways people got involved in Student Press Freedom Day 2020.

One of the centerpiece events was a discussion of the future of press freedom at the home of the Constitution itself. SPLC partnered with the National Archives to hold a roundtable discussion at the Archives in Washington, D.C.

The event brought together accomplished student journalists to talk about about censorship, social media backlash, the “conflation between activism and journalism" from their peers and the future of press freedom. The discussion was moderated by Emmy-winning journalist Joie Chen and introduced by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero.

Watch the National Archives event

Student-hosted events

  • The staff of The Wildcat Tribune, the student newspaper at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, California, organized school-wide presentations and contests to educate their fellow students about press freedom.
  • Students at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky brought together local journalists, lawyers, legislators and student leaders from across the state for a panel discussion about press freedom to try and build momentum around a New Voices coalition in the state. More than 50 students attended. 
  • The Doane Owl at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska hosted an open house to bring students into the newsroom, show them how they operate, and talk to them about issues they're currently grappling with, including being funneled through PR and the lack of faculty and funding for the journalism program. 
  • College journalists in New York hosted an event for 50 students and faculty in the campus library. Current and former editors of The Saint Rose Chronicle joined professors and professional journalists to talk candidly about how the school's PR Department has limited their access to sources and information over the course of two years. The Chronicle's adviser, Cailin Brown, said after the panel the library was louder than she'd ever heard it.

(Photo courtesy of Chronicle News Editor Sarah Clark)

What student journalists wrote 


The public doesn't always understand why press freedom, let alone student press freedom, is important. For Student Press Freedom Day, news outlets across the country published editorials about students' experiences with censorship, and the need to increase legal protections for student journalists. To date, SPLC has collected more than 30 editorials from high school and college journalists; public and private school students; students in New Voices states and those fighting to pass a law. We even had submissions from professional journalists and advisers.

Reading the headlines was a joy. Reading the editorials, even better.
Do we have your editorial? Email the link to your op-ed to Danielle at ddieterich@splc.org with the subject line “SPFD editorial submission."
See the full list of editorials

An outpouring on social media


Jan. 29 hit and the #studentpressfreedom tag was suddenly full of pictures of newsroom staffs teaching their peers about the Hazelwood decision, videos explaining how they pitch and execute story ideas, and Twitter threads of the work they're proudest of. 
 
Instagram (left to right, first row): @vermontcynic, @bergweekly, @isu_gsjc
(second row):@vikingmediavhs@atticascott4ky, @lhs.publications
(third row):@mhspinion, @chroniclencc@katrinanickell
 

The list goes on:

  • The New York Times For Kids ran a special spread about student journalism in late January. It included an explanation of the law around censorship of student news, and profiles of five student journalists aged 11 to 18.
  • The New York State Assembly passed a resolution declaring January 29, 2020 as Student Press Freedom Day in New York.
  • Eagle Nation Network, a student media outlet at Prosper High School in Texas (which made national news in 2018 for their censorship battle with administrators) aired a video highlighting that 36 states, including Texas, don’t have legal protections for student journalists. 
  • At Radford University in Virginia, the editor in chief of The Tartan joined the Student Press Freedom Day op-ed campaign to write about how the paper still doesn’t have answers about stolen newspapers on campus. He criticized the university for not releasing surveillance footage of the incident or revealing the name of the school employee who was caught stealing copies of the paper in 2019. 
  • SPLC created a "This is what student press freedom sounds like" playlist on Spotify
Read more about Student Press Freedom Day

Keep the conversation going on social media 


We hope you'll continue telling your followers why student press freedom is important all year long. Post photos, videos and articles you're proud of, or share your stories of censorship and self-censorship. Don't forget to use #studentpressfreedom.

Q: What is libel?

A: Libel is the publication of false statements of fact that seriously harm a person’s reputation. 

If a statement is true, it cannot be libelous, no matter how harmful it may be to the person’s reputation. 

See previous Ask SPLC answers

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