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Student Press Law Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Censorship, Freedom of Speech & Press, Civil Rights, Crime & Law, Legal Services, Media & Communications

Mission: The Student Press Law Center works at the intersection of law, journalism and education to promote, support and defend the rights of student journalists and their advisers at the high school and college levels.

Target demographics: Student journalists (and their advisers) at the high school and college levels

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: The Student Press Law Center supports, promotes and defends the rights of student journalists and their advisers at the high school and college levels. Independent journalism is crucial to a healthy democracy. The nonprofit, nonpartisan SPLC provides information, training and legal assistance - at no charge - to student journalists and the educators who work with them. Founded in 1974.

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Steve L.10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The SPLC continues to the be the most important legal resource for journalism students, teachers and advisers. The staff at SPLC are tireless in their efforts to provide us with the knowledge, resources, advocacy, support and services that we need to operate under the rights afforded to us. More than that, the SPLC has long pursued the expansion of student press rights to meet the Tinker Standard in all states. As the professor and media adviser that helped guide my students to create the first New Voices law in North Dakota, I am so grateful for the SPLC's continued drive to expand anti-Hazelwood legislation to all states.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have long admired the work of the Student Press Law Center in defending the rights of student journalists to report freely without interference from administrations.

Having been a student journalist, I know how important it is that students have the latitude to cover controversial topics that might upset school leadership. I'm glad that SPLC is there as a bulwark against excessive interference. The legal pros at SPLC know their stuff about the press freedom rights that student journalists are entitled to. Without SPLC, students could be subject to the whims of administrators.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center's special mission to provide free legal information to student journalists is sorely needed.

I could easily access their fact sheets on law and ethics, and knew that they stood ready with their free hotline if there was a problem or need for intervention.

I have moved into a career not related to journalism, but their resources helped me appreciate the role of journalism in our democracy.

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center is an evershining beacon of light and reason for students, teachers and advisers and administrators on journalism's scholastic and collegiate levels. Contact and support from the SPLC came soon after its inception when students and administrators invited the director to talk with administrators and school board members about our campaign for student media to be designated public forums for student expression.That visit led to student media being empowered as the state's first open forum by school policy. Willingness to assist those expanding scholastic journalistic freedom and journalistic responsibility to truth is but one of many reasons the SPLC continues as the nation's premier support of, advocacy for and innovator in student free expression in this country.

John Bowen
Social Studies teacher and Journalism teacher and adviser
Former SPLC board member
Former Director of JEA's Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Professor at Kent State University in journalism

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center is the ultimate resource and protector for student journalists and their advisers and teachers. I go to SPLC whenever I have questions about access and about our rights as private universities...among many other things! Their work supports the bedrock of our democracy - a free press!

Advisor

Rating: 5

My principal finished my glowing professional review, closed the folder, and told me he wanted "to take the student publication in a new direction and I would no longer advise it." I was gobsmacked, and when I told my students, they were in tears. Two sophomore reporters excused themselves from class to conduct an interview.

They came back to tell me that they had found the principal in the office and asked him, "Are you removing Mrs. Ewell because of the stories we wrote?" He had answered, "That's not the only reason, but it is part of it."

In our state, the administration cannot exercise prior restraint of the content of the student press except under very limited circumstances. My student knew this, and knew my removal was an effort to silence them.

The students, mostly immigrants and children of immigrants, contacted the Student Press Law Center. It was a long and painful process, but those sophomores graduated more than two years later, still on the staff of the publication I advised. They continued to win awards and prizes for their work and a few have continued in journalism.

I helped pass a California law forbidding the removal of the advisor to censor the students.

If it were not for the SPLC, we would have been one more pathetic journalism program squelched by a government. With the SPLC, we had a strong program and students who believe in democracy, the First Amendment, and the rule of law.

Priceless!

Janet Ewell, retired.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Journalism has never been more important -- or more challenged -- than it is today. The role the Student Press Law Center plays in ensuring college journalists are able to do their work is absolutely crucial. When administrators try to hide records, throw up road blocks or take vindictive actions, the SPLC is there with advice and, if necessary, intervention. Their work is priceless, and they ensure college newsrooms remain great training grounds for the next generations of journalists.

Advisor

Rating: 5

My community college journalism students often reach out to SPLC for advice on records requests and avoiding libel, especially in stories involving criminal charges and lawsuits. They've received advice about take-down requests, redactions in police reports, copyright infringement claims and prior-restraint censorship. We had a guest speaker from SPLC in our Zoom class, and it was a big hit with students.

Board Member

Rating: 5

When I joined the Student Press Law Center board, I was an editor at NPR. At the time, I did not know the full extent of bullying and administrative meddling that student journalists and their teachers face in schools across the country -- and the threats to their work and freedoms have only increased in the years since then. The caliber of SPLC's dedicated staff and board meant those young journalists and their advisers had access to lawyers who would stand up for them -- from the principal's office to the school board to the courthouse. And, more recently, at the state house, too. With SPLC's support and coordination, journalism students across the country have mobilized to pass laws in their states that defend their First Amendment rights. Hard for me to think of a better lesson in the democratic process. I suspect my involvement with SPLC's board, including a stint as board chair, helped inspire my move to teaching journalism. I have directed my students to SPLC's online resources many times. I am no longer on the board, but I am still an active supporter and donor. The Student Press Law Center is a small organization with a big mission -- helping protect and nurture the next generation of democracy's watchdogs.

Client Served

Rating: 5

In my 19-years as an educator, the SPLC has been there many times to help my kids understand their rights and responsibilities as journalists. They are quick to respond to questions, understanding when the kids are in a heightened state, and educational when the kids haven't quite gotten it right. Early in my career, the SPLC taught me everything I know about scholastic press rights and they are still my go-to resource today. I will always be grateful for how they supported the students of Overland High School when their principal decided censorship was a good idea. They are amazing!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

When my high school journalism students need backup, clarification, advice and legal perspective about their work, there's only one place for them to turn: the Student Press Law Center. The staff and lawyers at the SPLC have been there for my students every time they've needed an opinion, especially in those moments when they needed to make sure they were navigating a sensitive topic appropriately — and legally. Combine that with their support in coordinating campaigns for state-by-state "New Voices" movements to protect student journalists' First Amendment rights with legislation, including our ongoing campaign in New York, and you can understand why my esteem and appreciation for the SPLC team knows no bounds. They're there for us advisers and our students — every time.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my high school newspaper was prevented from publishing an important story, the Student Press Law Center was critical in helping us take action. Without the help of the amazing people at SPLC my staff and I would have been completely lost. With the assistance of the SPLC we were able to take the necessary steps to make sure our story was heard. The SPLC assisted us in filing public record requests and informed us of our legal rights as student journalists, all for free. All of our questions were quickly answered and with extreme detail. The support we received went way beyond our expectations and the SPLC is always my first recommendation to any fellow student journalist struggling with censorship or other legal concerns. I can't stress enough how amazing the SPLC is and I will always be extremely thankful for the many services they provided me and my staff.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

From my earliest days as a college adviser, I have experienced the comfort of knowing advice and counsel from reassuring voices at the the SPLC are just a phone call or email away. Whether navigating the world of uninformed but nonetheless frightening administrative threats or finding quick answers to questions of copyright or privacy issues, the staffs and I have always relied on the caselaw and resources the SPLC staff has shared with us. It's not fun to see your particular situation highlighted in an SPLC Report article, but it is encouraging to know the SPLC is monitoring student media around the country and offering guidelines for handling timely issues. I also appreciate the timeless work of the directors and staff over the years to train advisers, attend workshops and conventions, and address the legal issues on our campuses. Many thanks!

Donor

Rating: 5

There's no other organization like the Student Press Law Center. For high school and college media outlets, they're the only ones who can help with legal problems so students can use their voices for positive change. They give advice to frustrated, angry and upset teachers/advisers and their staffs when administrators don't get it and censor important stories, often because it "makes the school look bad." But often that's often the story the rest of the audience needs to know. In addition, the SPLC has teaching materials, archives of stories from their website and print publication, and help with training and communication for those who are trying to pass free speech legislation. I used the SPLC as a high school adviser, now as a college professor for pre-service teachers, and I was a board member for many years and now I'm a proud supporter and donor.

Gloria O.

Advisor

Rating: 5

My newspaper students won a major censorship lawsuit, Dean v Utica Community Schools, with critical support from the Student Press Law Center. That decision is now included in law school textbooks. The SPLC helps students across the country maintain their First Amendment rights and responsibilities. No payment is ever requested for that legal support.

1 Conor S.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center is an incredible legal resource for student journalists who desperately need the help of a centralized, expertly knowledgeable, and most importantly free asset with the current climate of free speech in the United States.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

A fantastic support and resource for students. Always, smart, always helpful, and very engaged in helping students. They're very accessible.

Susan Hathaway T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a fantastic organization helping student journalists and their advisers in so many ways! From posting lesson plans related to law and ethics on its website to fielding calls for help from student journalists, SPLC does it all. Most recently, SPLC is actively helping groups in various states with legislation leading to maximizing student freedom of expression on a state-by-state basis.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Some years ago I served on the board of the Student Press Law Center (I rotated off in about 2011). In my seven- year tenure, I served as board chair and also as the chair of its fundraising campaign. The organization regularly undertakes strategic planning and charts a course for the future. Many years ago, when it realized its Board of Directors was composed of nice people, but not the ones who should be leading the organization, it reconstituted the board. The new board became more active in planning for the future.
More important: the benefits SPLC offers to its constituents (high school and college journalists) are immense. Today many college newspapers are the only active newspapers in certain communities; they provide essential information to those areas. Without SPLC’s support it would be difficult for those media outlets to do good work.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My journalism students and I have turned to SPLC at least once per year for advice and support. They are always ready to help, armed with knowledge and experience. I really can't say enough good things about this wonderful organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with thousands of teen journalists in my career and whenever any of them mention censorship or administrative control in their school I send them to Student Press Law Center. SPLC staff and legal minds are experts at helping young people navigate the treacherous waters of the 1st Amendment. They are responsive, caring, whip-smart and careful negotiators of students rights.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This nonprofit is absolutely incredible. They do so much daily for student journalists, journalism advisers and other First Amendment advocates nation-wide. When my newspaper staff was censored, they not only gave my staff legal advice on how to have conversations with our administrators about their strict policies but also ran our story on the SPLC website to where it picked up international attention.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a long-time journalist and nonprofit executive, I was delighted to join the SPLC board and be part of this invaluable (*FREE*) support system for student journalists and their advisers. It's been deeply fulfilling to watch thousands of young journalists learn about their rights as they negotiate what it means in the digital age to be members of free press, and how to advocate for themselves in the classroom, in print, online and on air. The SPLC team, led by Executive Director Hadar Harris, are reimagining programs and tools to keep up with the 24/7 pace of news, disinformation and attacks on press freedoms.

I wish I had had access to SPLC's programs when I worked on my student newspaper back in the late '60s, but I'm gratified that it's here now to help, especially during this challenging time for journalism.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Student Press Law Center has helped and educated our newsroom during the busiest, most contentious and legally tricky period of our sixty- year history as a campus newspaper . We are grateful for all the time they have given to us and we are strengthened as student journalists knowing that we are supported by a group of professionals who believe wholeheartedly in protecting the freedom of the press. SPLC provides an invaluable service to student newspaper.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center empowers young people, giving them the tools and confidence to participate in our great democracy. As a high school newspaper adviser, I encourage my students to use this wonderful resource whenever they have questions about their rights. The law center's website is a treasure. If we're faced with a legal question, we can find the answer at splc.org. We can also find hundreds of professionally written stories posted on the site that describe important court decisions. My students can find their own challenges in these court cases. It's an amazing learning experience as they read what their fellow high school journalists face at school and in the courts.
My students can also meet the staff of the SPLC, since the organization provides speakers at all major gatherings of high school journalists. We attend the Columbia University conference each year, where several sessions are offered by the SPLC. We count them among our most important stops at the conference.
The SPLC truly is a great nonprofit. My students have become responsible citizens, unafraid to speak their minds because they know their rights, thanks to the Student Press Law Center.

Kathy M.

Donor

Rating: 5

Student Press Law Center has been faithful to its mission for decades. I met SPLC founder Mark Goodman in the early 90s when he made presentations to the DC Board of Education. I've since become the leader of an independent, teen-produced newspaper that closely follows issues of censorship. SPLC is an outstanding resource for our reporters.

SPLC has built a solid funding base, undergone a leadership transition and made strides to use contemporary technology. Failing to meet any one of these challenges can undo a nonprofit organization. SPLC has met them and thrives today.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Student Press Law Center is the best nonprofit in America. Here's why:
*This organization offers free assistance to student media outlets in the United States.
*In this way, they help teenagers and young adults understand and exercise their First Amendment rights.
*These teenagers and adults then understand that a.) their rights will be protected, b.) they are held to a high level of accountability and c.) they can openly and actively participate in the world around them by exercising these rights.
*These teenagers and adults tend to be more educated (whether that's prior to or because of scholastic journalism, it matters not) and more likely to be America's next decision- and difference-makers.
*They enter the decision- and difference-making world having already actively exercised - responsibly - their First Amendment rights, which encouraged critical thinking, accountability, research skills, collaboration and all those great things that make a kick-@$$, RESPONSIBLE citizen that can contribute massive awesomeness to society - whether they become airline pilots, teachers, doctors, cowboys, etc.
So, what begins as the advocacy of the SPLC, down the road, creates stronger and more responsible citizens of America.
End cliches now.