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FIRE report: Seven warning signs of student press censorship

Under Pressure: The Warning Signs of Student Newspaper Censorship

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 17, 2019 — Student journalists should be alert to seven warning signs that signal efforts to restrict the freedom of the press on campus, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Under Pressure: The Warning Signs of Student Newspaper Censorship” highlights the ways student journalists face censorship by studying recent cases from around the country.

“Administrators use dubious techniques to censor student journalists — some of whom don’t even realize their voices are being silenced,” said Sarah McLaughlin, FIRE’s director of targeted advocacy and author of the report. “Student reporters must be more vigilant than ever to protect their speech rights. By keeping an eye open for these seven warning signs, students can protect themselves and their publications.”

FIRE’s warning signs are: 

  • Defunding and derecognition
  • Investigations
  • Theft and destruction
  • Censorship demands
  • Prior review
  • Pressure on advisers
  • Media relations policies

Each warning is explained with case examples from campuses across America. Student journalists facing any of these threats are encouraged to contact FIRE for help defending their rights.

Read the full report on FIRE’s website.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.


Daniel Burnett, Assistant Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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