Stop the Presses

College newspapers in the crosshairs


| November / December 2005


American journalism is under attack from all sides -- not always undeservedly. But one front that has some observers particularly worried is a growing trend toward censorship of college media.

This year, an alternative campus newspaper in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, lost funding after student leaders deemed it 'too political.' And in 2002, Vanessa Curry, newspaper adviser at the University of Texas in Tyler, was fired (and later reinstated) after campus reporters too aggressively looked into open records at the school, from administrators' salaries to information about ongoing investigations.

'Universities are supposed to be about diversity of opinion and knowledge,' says James Highland, outgoing vice president of campus chapter affairs for the Society of Professional Journalists. Thus, Highland says, when university administrators are confronted, they usually back off.

But could that change in the era of Hosty v. Carter? The June 20 appeals court ruling dumps onto college media the protection-stripping precedents of 1988's Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision, which states that educators 'do not offend the First Amendment' by censoring high school newspapers. If it is likewise widely accepted, Hosty could institutionalize campus censorship nationwide.



Highland isn't really worried, saying censorship issues cycle in and out of history. Nonetheless, he admits that it is a growing problem that SPJ will have to keep battling.

Mike Hiestand, legal consultant at the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Virginia, is less confident. By censoring school newspapers, 'we're telling [young citizens] that the First Amendment really isn't that important,' he says. In fact, that notion has been gaining steam. A Knight Foundation survey of 100,000 American students conducted in 2004 found that more than 33 percent believe First Amendment protections go 'too far,' and half think newspaper stories should be subjected to government clearance.














Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265