Law and Ethics

Information of how colleges
restrict athletes’ social media use available
year-round for localization


Even though Sunshine Week 2014 has passed, you can still obtain information about how colleges regulate athletes’ speech using social media and whether colleges would release the information when asked.

This information is interesting and important on its own, but can also be localized for coverage in scholastic media.

The resources are available here and here.

The SPLC has licensed these pieces using a Creative Commons license to encourage republication.

Information in the packages was researched by students at the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and developed into the finished product by SPLC Publications Fellow Sara Gregory and journalism intern Rex Santus of Kent State University.

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In case you missed Mary Beth Tinker
students provide solid coverage


Editor’s note: The following is the introduction to Mary Beth Tinker at Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif. It is used here with permission in an effort to reach as many people as possible.

Kavleen Singh, co-editor-in-chief, The Roar introduced Mary Beth Tinker and the Tinker tour April 1  at Whitney High School.
Here is her speech:
We listen, we read, and we speak. How do we do all of that? With words. The string of sounds and syllables we convert into meaningful messages is the most prominent outlet in expressing one’s thoughts.
There’s great power that comes with the mastery of words, and it can cause a massive uproar. Just over the past few years, Egypt and Tunisia incited a revolution that was fueled through Twitter and Facebook. Both social media outlets are traversed with words. But here in the United States, we have a protection for words that many countries unfortunately do not. We have the First Amendment.
It is through the 45 words of the First Amendment that we are granted a voice in society, free to speak our minds and participate in a melting pot of diverse opinions and clash constructively with others. There have been challenges throughout history regarding the First Amendment, and few are more prominent than that of the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. As a freshman in Journalism I class, I learned about the Tinker case and how the courage of Mary Beth Tinker led to the high court setting a precedent that would forever impact students. In the decision, Justice Abe Fortas said, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Now, as I stand before you as editor-in-chief and a much more experienced journalist, I can better appreciate that protection. In my four years with Whitney High Student Media, we have reported on two teacher arrests, bullying, online privacy, struggles with sexuality, smoking, body image, suicide, depression and a variety of other stories important to our readers. I am grateful for the freedom of speech and of the press afforded to us by the First Amendment and the California Educational Code that supports us in this responsibility. I also am grateful to have the resources available from the Student Press Law Center and to know that outside the gates of our school, other journalists are working just as hard to tell the important stories at their school — stories that take courage to find, hear, and deliver with fairness and accuracy to help improve communities and their audiences all around the world.
It is my honor and absolute pleasure to present free speech activist Mary Beth Tinker.
- Kavleen Singh, co-editor-in-chief, The Roar
Whitney High Student Media; Rocklin, Calif.

Journalism students at Whitney also published Storify coverage of the Tinker Tour here. Consider using Storify as another way to report events. News coverage can be read here and photo gallery coverage here .

The Tinker Tour also stopped April 2 at Monta Vista High School, and included a panel discussion with Tinker, Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center and Nick Ferentinos, retired adviser whose students won a post-Hazelwood censorship battle. Two Monta Vista students who successfully defied a subpoena earlier this year using the California shield laws also spoke.

Tomorrow, April 3, journalism students will  live stream the Tinker Tour assembly from Convent of the Sacred Heart HS in San Francisco at 10:45 PDT. At the end, student journalists will take questions hashtagged #TinkerTourSF via Twitter.

Coverage can be accessed here.
For those of you in PRIVATE SCHOOLS, this is your chance to get in questions specific to your situation. (But everyone else should feel free to logon, too
For those in PRIVATE SCHOOLS, this is your chance to get in questions specific to your situation.
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Watch the Tinker Tour April 1 via live streaming


Watch the western segment of the Tinker Tour as it visits Whitney High School and students from northern California April 1, 10 a.m. Pacific time.

To watch the presentation live, visit

The Tinker Tour is a special project of the Student Press Law Center. Its goal is to bring real-life civics lessons to schools and communities through my story and those of other young people, according to the Tour website.

“I made a difference with just a simple, black armband,” Mary Beth Tinker is quoted. “Can you imagine what a shy 13-year-old could do today with all of the extraordinary speech tools available?”

To watch the presentation live, visit

Also follow the Tinker Tour at #tinkertour.

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Making a Difference application now open


Advisers, as you prepare for the end of year contest submissions, consider entering student work in the JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission Making a Difference project. You can fill out this online form and upload documents for consideration for publication.

We published our first copy of Making a Difference in hard copy in 1988 because of the Hazelwood malaise. In that version, now downloadable, we highlighted scholastic reporting that demonstrated  student journalism did not need the heavy hard of prior review and censorship. That tradition continues today and will continue so long as students continue to take their roles seriously and professionally.

In 2012, we committed ourselves to updating the project, hoping to show student journalism had not succumbed to Hazelwood.

We have seen some great work by student journalists across the country covering some intense topics. Let’s show the country what great work student journalists are doing that rivals work done by professional journalists.

You can enter your students’ work here:

Here are some of the stories submitted earlier:

Making a Difference articles – 2014

• Students speak out about cancellation of SGA elections

• And the children shall lead them. Student journalists Make a Difference
• Student journalists make a difference
• Making a Difference: Student journalists document controversy
• Broken Hearts and Broken Minds
• Students tackle coverage of rape culture
• Freshman capstone project localizes national issue of gay rights
 Guns in America: From schools to shooting ranges
• Students speak out about cancellations of SGA elections
• Freshman capstone project localizes national issues of gay rights
• Exposing the killing impact of Heroin

Past student work:
• Past stories: You can Make a Difference. Show everyone how

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Fond du Lac English department statement
should be guide to those who face review


When the Fond du Lac English department issued a statement supporting embattled student journalists there March 21, they signaled clear support against those who would censor student expression.

We urge other groups in high schools across the country follow their lead, especially if their student media labor under prior review.

We urge other groups in high schools across the country follow their lead, especially if their student media labor under prior review.

Students at the school have faced censorship since their principal imposed new prior review directives March 10 following student publication of “The “Rape Joke” story, a look at what student journalists felt was a “culture of rape” at the school and focused on three students who said they were raped.

Important parts of the English department statement include:
• …“The story, itself, stands as an exemplar of high quality, responsible journalism that has helped countless readers feel supported, speak up, seek help, and come together in a way that has undoubtedly resulted in a more positive environment in our school. We need more stories like this one, not fewer.
• “The fact that the new guidelines were drawn up so quickly, in defiance of past precedent, without warning or consultation with the school newspaper advisor or staff or other interested parties, and in the most restrictive form possible has the students worried that such stories, while powerful and community-building, may be controversial or not be “positive” enough to gain future approval.
• “Our students, allowed some freedom to work together to think critically and make informed choices on their own along with the guidance of a highly qualified instructor, are capable of truly amazing things. Such work should be celebrated, not censored.”

The group also urged the superintendent and school board to support the open forum for student expression and to drafted new guidelines “in collaboration with students, community and experts in the field” to accomplish that.

We absolutely agree, for these reasons and countless others:
• No one has ever demonstrated  legitimate educational rationale for prior review. Defenses almost always come in the form of public relations and personal administrative preferences. Not even the Hazelwood decision supports that.
• Academic rigor and civic engagement require student decision-making and critical thinking where students apply the principles they learn. Anything less prevents the authentic learning a journalistically responsible student media must demonstrate.
• A free and unfettered journalism is at the core of a democracy. If students see they cannot practice what they are taught, they will come to see that democracy as flawed, unreal and unworthy of protection.
• Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism and its follow-up book Blur, say journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. Achieving that, through accuracy, balance and coherence of content cannot occur under the practice of prior review.
• In Blur, Kovach and Rosenstiel emphasize the discipline of verification, which is also limited if not impossible in an atmosphere of prior review.
• We strongly support the Questions about Prior Review the department mentions as they substantially reflect JEA policy and beliefs.

We strongly urge English departments, social studies departments, parent booster groups and any citizen or educator who supports learning and rigor in schools to examine the Fond du Lac English department statement.

The statement provides a summary of essential positions JEA and other scholastic media groups have advocated for years. For more about those beliefs and principles, go here.

Whether we teach freedom of expression in English and journalism, social studies or news/media literacy, we must practice that belief or all the rigor and literacy we give lip service to will be shallow, meaningless words.

As we move forward with authentic learning, expanded news literacy and civic engagement, we must prime our students with real practices that reflect what they are taught.

Whether we teach freedom of expression in English and journalism, social studies or news/media literacy, we must practice that belief or all the rigor and literacy we give lip service to will be shallow, meaningless words.


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Fond du Lac English department
posts support for students
in censorship fight


Fond du Lac (WI) High’s English department has submitted a statement supporting student journalists and advocating the need for an open forum for student expression at their school.

Student journalists there have been in a prior review and restraint battle with school officials over a story on rape, called “Rape Joke.”

Kettle Moraine Press Association director Linda Barrington also noted the students aired  a video on school announcements March 21, with administration approval. The video had some explanation from the principal about why he thinks the guidelines for prior review are needed.

The video can be seen here.

Arguments made on the video include the general thought that the school would like more oversight, the thought that some of the words used in the story were too edgy, and a reference to the argument the principal has been giving lately that reporters should have gotten the permission from the rapists who may have been involved in the stories of sexual abuse related by the anonymous sources in the “Rape Joke” story.

Barrington said in am email to the Journalism Education Association’s listserv that the next school board meeting for the district is Monday, March 24 at 5 pm at the Fond du Lac School District Administration Center at 72 Ninth St.

“Students are looking for as much support there as possible,” Barrington wrote.

Students journalists have received more than 5,300 signatures on a petition to their superintendent to reverse his prior review and censorship decision.

Additional coverage links:
• Trust kids to speak,0,1091161.story
• High school student protest censorship of the ‘The Rape Joke,’ school publication restriction
• Fond du Lac student protest censorship mandate for school publication
• High school cracks down on student paper that published rape culture article
•How far is too far? The issue of rape in the high school
• High school administration teaches student journalists valuable lesson: We will censor you early and often
• oped: Rape culture article in school paper leads to censorship policy
• Wisconsin administrators impose prior review after news magazine’s story on sexual assault
• Principal requires approval of high school paper’s stories after rape culture article
• WI school offices seize control  over student paper after ‘rape culture’ article appears



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