Published: February 22, 2006
The Court’s decision [not to allow an appeal of a ruling that permits censorship of student media] is very bad news for those who value a free student press. It will be tempting for colleges to impose restrictions on reporting that doesn’t please the powers-that-be-or that prohibit so-called offensive material.
Colleges-like businesses and governments-are often more interested in promoting a good image than in promoting the free flow of information among students and citizens. That’s why legal protection of press freedom is essential.
Prediction: If authorities nationwide are too zealous in imposing restrictions and demanding prior review, the result could be some very dull college newspapers indeed. Readers may not bother to pick up a copy as they flock increasingly to the Internet for candid material.
Perhaps the greatest problem is that the decision will make life much harder for journalism teachers, media advisers, and college administrators. Now they may be legally held liable for content. They can no longer say, “It’s a student paper, and we don’t control what goes in it.”
Former Professor of English and Journalism
Head of the English and Communications Department