FIRE Launches Student Press Freedom Initiative to Combat Censorship in Student Media

A forthcoming FIRE study found that more than 60% of academic journals experience at least one case of administrative censorship each year.

Let it sink in.

This tells us two things: First, censorship is a widespread problem in student media. Second, the resources currently available to student journalists and the administrators with whom they deal are not enough.

That’s why, today, FIRE launches the Student Press Freedom InitiativeSPFIor “spiffy”, for short.

SPFI is working to supplement the resources that already exist for student journalists, their advisors and administrators so that we can combat censorship in student media.

Here are some of the SPFI offerings:

  • A 24/7 legal hotline: 717-734-SPFI.
  • Can I post this? — an online guide to media law.
  • Virtual training events for student journalists.
  • Free in-person workshops.
  • Student Media Advocacy and Litigation, in coordination with FIRE’s Individual Advocacy Program and Litigation Project.

Read on to learn more about SPFI’s work, including several upcoming events.

24/7 SPFI hotline for censorship and media rights issues

SPFI’s first order of business is its new 24/7 hotline: 717-734-SPFI (7734).

Too often we’ve heard student journalists and their advisers say they have an urgent legal matter, but it happened in the middle of the night – often during production night – so they didn’t know who to turn to. address.

The new SPFI hotline answers calls at any time, day or night, working days or holidays. Urgent matters will be connected to a FIRE staff member, who will assist student journalists and their advisers with legal issues of all kinds, whether related to censorship or a media rights issue such as the right to authorship or defamation law. Although the hotline does not establish an attorney-client relationship and FIRE staff cannot provide legal advice on the hotline, we are able to provide students with legal information and other resources and, in circumstances that require it, to connect a caller with an attorney. We are here to help you.

Can I post this?

CanIPublishThis.comThe FIRE Guide to Media and First Amendment Law for Student Journalists, will receive regular updates with new modules covering all things law for college journalists.

Today a new module on prior review and prior restriction is live. Students can use it to reflect on the pressures they are under and if it is time to call for help using the SPFI hotline.

Virtual trainings and webinars for academic journalists

At February 22 at 4 p.m. ESTduring Student Press Freedom Week, FIRE will host “Overcoming Self-Censorship in Student Media: A Discussion,” in collaboration with the Student Press Law Center. The session will provide academic journalists with a roundtable opportunity to discuss their experiences with self-censorship. Students can subscribe to this discussion here.

VSCensorship is a widespread problem in student media.

On the occasion of Student Press Freedom Day, February 24 at 4 p.m. ESTFIRE will offer a virtual training called “Can I post this?which will help student journalists avoid legal trouble by providing them with tools they can use to review content before it is published. Students and counselors can register for this free training here.

These two events are just the first in a series of quarterly virtual training sessions to help college and university journalists better understand and exercise their rights.

Upcoming topics will include other common issues faced by student journalists, such as the use of FOIA for reporting, Media Law 101, reporting protests, ethics against the law, and copyright. .

The Free Press Workshop: An upcoming student media conference

Just announced today, FIRE will host a free one-day workshop on April 9 in Washington, DC to allow student journalists to use their free press rights.

At the conference, journalists will learn from experts in the field about the importance of student journalism and how to protect a free and open press. Topics will include FOIA, how to interview to get your questions answered, and basic media law. Participants will also work closely with SPFI and other FIRE staff to develop strategies for speaking, writing, and reporting the news freely — backed by a solid understanding of the First Amendment and its protections.

FIRE aims to make its events accessible to everyone, so in addition to offering this workshop at no cost to attendees, FIRE is offering a $350 travel allowance to all attendees. Additionally, SPFI has additional allowances available for those with extraordinary travel expenses.

Join us at this exciting conference by apply here.

Advocacy and litigation: Defending the student press

To ensure that when attacks on the collegiate press occur, someone is there to defend it, FIRE will continue to engage in advocacy efforts and litigation.

In coordination with FIRE’s Individual Advocacy Program, SPFI will work to defend the rights of academic newspapers, radio stations, magazines, and other publications when faced with legal threats or censorship. . In these areas, SPFI will work with IRDP to target media campaigns, correspond with administrators, and engage in other creative advocacy efforts to fight for the rights of student journalists.

As seen in the Tarleton State University Trial filed today, as well as in our victory earlier this week in defense of student newspaper editor Jared NallyFIRE is also dedicated to defending student press rights through litigation.

These services and resources are just the beginning of what SPFI will offer in its mission to eradicate censorship from academic media.

Students – especially student journalists – interested in getting involved with SPFI should join the FIRE student networkand tick the “student journalism” box at the end of the form!

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