FIRE Explains Student Journalists’ Rights (VIDEO)

By December 1, 2015

In light of recent high-profile threats to a free student press on college campuses nationwide—including threats to defund student publications for publishing controversial material and banishment of student reporters from public events—FIRE wants to ensure that student journalists know their rights. So today, we’re proud to launch a new video designed to do just that.

In our new video, Azhar Majeed, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, outlines the differences between press freedoms at public and private universities. As Azhar explains, public institutions are fully bound by the First Amendment, while private colleges that promise free speech owe students similar protections.

We also hear about several recent cases in which FIRE defended the rights of student journalists on campuses around the country. FIRE helped vindicate the rights of student reporters at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ student paper, The Sun Star, after administrators conducted a months-long investigation of two articles the paper published.  

We also defended student journalists at the University of Tulsa earlier this year, where reporters at The Collegian were threatened with misconduct charges for reporting on another FIRE case—the suspension of student George “Trey” Barnett for a Facebook post his husband wrote.

“My college wanted the student newspaper to self-censor its coverage of a disciplinary proceeding,” said Kyle Walker, The Collegian’s former editor-in-chief. “It was important to us to make those things known and to give people an opportunity to learn about the dark, shadowy corners of their school that they’re not exposed to because administrators don’t want people to know what’s going on.”

You can learn more about the rights of student journalists on campus, by checking out FIRE’s student press page.

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Schools: University of Tulsa University of Alaska Fairbanks Cases: University of Tulsa: Student Suspended for Husband’s Facebook Posts University of Alaska Fairbanks: Complaint Over Student Newspaper’s Articles Results in Months-Long Harassment Investigation