New Report: Student Journalism Under Fire

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Markwardt (AAUP) – lmarkwardt@aaup.org / 202-594-3635
              Chris Evans (CMA) – chris.evans@uvm.edu / 802-656-2060
              Jas Chana (NCAC) – jas@ncac.org / 212-807-6222 ext.107
              Frank D. LoMonte (SPLC) – director@splc.org / (202) 872-1704

Today, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the College Media Association (CMA), the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) released a report, Threats to the Independence of Student Media, shining a light on threats to student media and reaffirming and expanding upon basic principles of a free student press.

The report cites multiple cases in which college and university administrations exerted pressure in attempts to control, edit, or censor student journalistic content. This pressure has been reported in every segment of higher education and every institutional type: public and private, four-year and two-year, religious and secular. The report finds that administrative efforts to subordinate campus journalism to public relations concerns are inconsistent with the mission of higher education to foster intellectual exploration and debate. And while journalism that discusses students’ dissatisfaction with the perceived shortcomings of their institutions can be uncomfortable, it fulfills an important civic function.

The final report can be found here.

Henry Reichman, first vice president of the AAUP, said, “Academic freedom extends to advisers of student media who support the critical work of student journalists. It’s important to draw attention to these threats to student media and to work towards solutions.”

Joan Bertin, NCAC executive director, said, “This report exposes restrictions on press and speech freedoms on campus and exhorts college and university administrators to educate students in the operation of our constitutional system by allowing students to engage in its most critical functions: seeking information, becoming engaged and informed, and speaking out on matters of importance.”  

Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of SPLC, said, “It is hypocritical for colleges to claim they support civic engagement while defunding student news organizations, removing well-qualified faculty advisers, and otherwise intimidating journalists into compliance. Colleges are more obsessed with promoting a favorable public image than ever before, but a college that retaliates against students and faculty for unflattering journalism doesn't just look bad—it is bad. We need a top-level commitment from the presidents of America's colleges and universities to support editorially independent student-run news coverage, including secure funding and retaliation protection for students and their advisers.”

Kelley Lash, president of CMA, said, “This issue impacts millions of educators and students. College Media Association emphatically supports the First Amendment freedoms of all student media at all institutions, both public and private, and agrees that these media must be free from all forms of external interference designed to influence content. Student media participants, and their advisers, should not be threatened or punished due to the content of the student media. Their rights of free speech and free press must always be guaranteed.”

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The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) champions academic freedom; advances shared governance; and promotes economic security for all who teach and research in higher education. Since 1915, the AAUP has shaped American higher education by developing standards that uphold quality education and ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.

 

 

Publication Date: 
Thursday, December 1, 2016