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Student Press Law Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Student Press Law Center
Student Press Law Center Logo.jpg
Formation1974 (1974)
Type501(c)(3) Non-Profit
PurposeAdvocate for student journalists and open government on campus
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Region served
United States
Executive Director
Hadar Harris

The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) is a non-profit organization in the United States that aims to protect press freedom rights for student journalists at high school and university student newspapers. It is dedicated to student free-press rights and provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge for students and educators.[1]

The SPLC was founded in 1974.[2] The Kennedy Memorial Foundation and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press created the center at the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into High School Journalism. The center became a separate corporation in 1979.[3] It is the only legal assistance agency in the United States with the primary mission of educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment and supporting the freedom of expression of student news media to address issues and express themselves free from censorship.[4][5][6]

The SPLC is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) corporation. It is headquartered in the University of California Building in Washington, D.C. It was previously headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, where it shared a suite of offices with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.[7]



  • Provides free legal help and information as well as low-cost educational materials for student journalists on a wide variety of media law topics, including laws regarding defamation, freedom of information, copyrights, invasion of privacy, reporter's privilege, obscenity, censorship, and the First Amendment.
  • Files amici curiae in cases where student media rights could be effected.[8]
  • Operates an Attorney Referral Network of approximately 250 volunteer media law attorneys across the country who may be available to provide free legal representation to local students when necessary.[9][10]
  • Maintains a free Freedom of Information Law Letter Generator that creates a public records request tailored to the law of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, for use by student journalists and others seeking access to public records.[11]
  • Staffs a legal representation hotline.[12]
  • Maintains a full-service news operation covering issues relevant to student journalism. The center's journalists write online news stories[13] about ongoing censorship and open-records controversies, and produce the in-depth SPLC Report magazine in print and online.[14]
  • Presents annual awards to recognize student journalists, educators, and administrators that have shown courage in standing up for student press freedom.[15][16]


The SPLC has advocated for the passage of "New Voices" legislation at the state level to protect student journalists' rights.[17][18] Their efforts have produced bills in ten states that are under consideration in Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri,[19][20] Nebraska,[21] New Jersey,[22] New York,[23] Iowa,[24] Tennessee,[25] West Virginia, and Texas. The organization has promoted and funded Student Press Freedom Day on college campuses.[26] In 2019, it awarded four students journalists a "Courage in Student Journalism Award". The award was given in conjunction with the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University and the National Scholastic Press Association.[27]

In 2015, the SPLC aided Prosper High School student journalists who were censored and removed from their student newspaper after reporting on a teacher criticizing their colleague for reporting a school-related incident of inappropriate sexual conduct to police.[28][29]

In 2018, the law center supported two student reporters whose high school administration shut down their student newspaper when their investigating revealed a teacher was fired for exchanging inappropriate text messages with an underage student.[30][31][32]

In 2021, attorneys from the Student Press Law Center, alongside other free-speech groups, gave an amicus curiae in the supreme court case Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. which stated the court had unconstitutionally established students as second-class citizens as a consequence of school enrollment.[33]

Newspaper theft

The organization tracks the theft of free newspapers on college campuses. The group considers the disappearance of the student newspapers as censorship by theft.[34][35]

Governance and staff

The SPLC is run by an executive director and a board of directors composed primarily of attorneys, professional journalists and journalism educators.[36] The current executive director, Hadar Harris, was named to the position in September 2017.[37][38] The previous executive director was Frank LoMonte,[39] who served from January 2008 until September 2017.[40][41] He was preceded by Mark Goodman, who served from 1985 to 2007.[42]


The SPLC is supported by contributions from student journalists, journalism educators, and other individuals, as well as by donations from foundations and corporations. On January 23, 2007, the SPLC successfully completed a three-year $3.75 million endowment campaign, spurred by a challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.[43][44] In 2017, the organization's total revenue was $763,920, as shown on IRS Form 990.


  1. ^ Ralston, Neil; Hudson, David L. (September 2017) [2009]. "Student Press Law Center". The First Amendment Encyclopedia. First Amendment Center. Retrieved June 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Breaking the back of Hazelwood: a press lawyer's decade-long campaign". Poynter. 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  3. ^ Jr.), David L. Hudson. "Student Press Law Center". Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  4. ^ "SCJ". Archived from the original on 2007-06-21.
  5. ^ "Student Press Law Center". Idealist. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Got Censorship? Here's A Place To Turn". Poynter's High School Journalism Guide. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Student Press Law Center director tells UMD students their rights have "gotten worse"". The Diamondback.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  10. ^ Strauss, Valerie (April 5, 2017). "Analysis | What protections do student journalists really have? Check your state on this map". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-07-08.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  12. ^ Gewertz, Catherine (17 October 2019). "7 Signs That Your School Newspaper Risks Censorship". Education Week. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  13. ^ "News Flashes". SPLC. Archived from the original on 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  15. ^ "Awards". SPLC. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Poynter". Poynter. Archived from the original on 2005-10-28.
  17. ^ "New Voices". Student Press Law Center. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  18. ^ "A nationwide movement protecting the student press from censorship gains momentum". The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  19. ^ "House Bill 480". Missouri Legislature. 101st General Assembly, 1st Regular Session.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Senate Bill 434: Establishes the "Cronkite New Voices Act" to protect the freedom of press in school-sponsored media". Missouri Legislature.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "LEGISLATIVE BILL 88" (PDF). Nebreska State Legislature.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "Bill A169: Concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education". New Jersey State Legislature.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "New Voices in New York". Student Press Law Center. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  24. ^ "SPLC commends Iowa's recent efforts to extend censorship protections to advisers". Student Press Law Center. 2021-05-27. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  25. ^ "New Voices in Tennessee". Student Press Law Center. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  26. ^ Guenther, Abigail (January 21, 2020). "Student Press Freedom: demanding democracy". The Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-07-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ "High school journalists who fought censorship win award". ABC News. November 25, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ Miller, Steve (2018-08-24). "Administrator who helped cover up sexual misconduct is still working for Prosper ISD". The Texas Monitor. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  29. ^ Peiser, Jaclyn (2018-07-01). "Hard News. Angry Administration. Teenage Journalists Know What It's Like". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  30. ^ Proulx, Natalie (2019-05-09). "Should Schools Be Allowed to Censor Student Newspapers? (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  31. ^ "Utah high school receives tongue-in-cheek 'award' for censoring its student newspaper". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  32. ^ Rosenberg, Eli (January 24, 2018). "Their school deleted an article on a teacher's firing. So these teens published it themselves".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ "On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in MAHANOY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT versus B.L." (PDF). Amicus curiae et. al. March 31, 202.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ Fletcher, Paul (2019-12-26). "Censorship by theft". Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  35. ^ "Student Press Law Center | Newspaper theft in 2019: 8,500+ issues stolen, trashed in 13 incidents". Student Press Law Center. 2019-12-13. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  36. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  37. ^ "Student Press Law Center names new executive director". 20 November 2007.
  38. ^ "Student journalists navigate coronavirus pandemic". Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  39. ^ Elliott, Roxann. "Student Press Law Center executive director gives interview about New Jersey's New Voices law".
  40. ^ "Student Press Law Center names new executive director".
  41. ^ "Univ. law graduate earns prestigious position". Red and Black. 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012.
  42. ^ "A Message from the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center".
  43. ^ "Student Press Law Center Seeks to Raise $3.75M for an Endowment". Editor and Publisher. 17 March 2005. Archived from the original on 18 March 2005.
  44. ^ "News Flash". SPLC. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 October 2021, at 15:31
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