Tips for student journalists and media organizations
Student newspapers, magazines, radio, and other media outlets serve an important function in a campus community, not only as a source of information but as a means of keeping the institution accountable. The rights to free speech and free press for student journalists are paramount.
ENSURE RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM
Student journalists are learning how to do journalism. Student newspapers and other media outlets should institute rigorous training programs to ensure that reporters learn journalistic standards and ethics.
Student journalism plays an important role in shaping the campus climate. As such, it is imperative that the staff of the newspaper includes diverse voices. Make active efforts to recruit a diverse range of reporters, editors, and opinion writers.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Student journalists at public universities are entitled to the full press freedom protections afforded by the First Amendment. While private universities are not bound by the First Amendment, it is counter to the values and missions of universities to censor student journalists.
INSIST ON A FREE PRESS POLICY
If your school does not have a policy protecting a free student press, insist on one. The Student Press Law Center has some sample policies. If your school has a journalism department or school, consider reaching out to their faculty and administrators for support and guidance.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
At public universities, you may be able to access information that the university refuses to release through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. See the Society of Professional Journalists for resources.
If you feel like your school is hostile to the press freedoms of student journalists, consider creating a coalition of student publications and media outlets to organize against censorship.
CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE OUTLETS
If you find that you are unable to publish work through your school newspaper, try talking to local newspapers or relevant online publications to see if the story might be of interest to them. If your work is being censored, local newspapers or other publications dealing with press freedom or higher education may consider that a story in itself.