Monday, July 16, 2007

Student Journalism Rights: Step by Step Toward Acceptance?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a law last week that protects Oregon high school students and college journalists from censorship by school administrators and also gives students the right to sue their school if they feel their right to expression has been violated. Click here ( ) for a Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.) story on the law detailing how:

+ The Oregon law is the country's first in more than a decade to protect high school journalists and the first ever to cover both high school and college journalists under one statute. (This new ruling adds to the list of six states that currently have laws protecting high school journalists from censorship; all were passed before 1996.)

+ A 2005 Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling (Hosty v. Carter) allowed college administrators to impose prior review and restraint on student newspapers if the publication is not a designated public forum for student expression. (This ruling covers three Midwestern states but has been cited by administrators nationwide to justify tightened controls over high school and college publications.)

+ According to the Student Press Law Center, a wave of similar laws is currently being pursued in other states (including Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont).

+ Many student press advocates consider the law a victory – yet consider the final version somewhat watered down by amendments (including removal of a provision that would have allowed punishment for administrators that censor student publications, along with another that would have designated college publications public forums.)

To see Warren Watson's piece on this legislation, visit

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