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"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost." -Thomas Jefferson, 1786

We were in your position in 2009, and this page is designed to provide you with various resources as you defend your publication’s right to free speech.

Today, the sad reality across the country is that scholastic journalism programs—big and small, longstanding and newly established—are facing the very real threat of censorship by their school administrations. And at many of these programs, students are fighting back. Why? Because student journalists recognize the important responsibilities they have to serve their communities, to tell their readership not only what it wants to hear, but what it needs to hear. They recognize the critical importance their publications have in addressing controversial issues in a professional way. This determination to find the truth means that student journalists will stand up for their rights to publish controversial stories.

Right now, you are in a very challenging position. While every publication, situation and administration is different, the stakes are usually the same: The very ability of your newspaper to report the news and inform your school. Like you, we believe in the essential role a free press plays in a democratic society—we’re not cheerleaders or muckrakers; we search for and report the truth. You must defend your newspaper, your school and the First Amendment.

Our success in working with our school district is due in part to the expertise of the Student Press Law Center, a Virginia-based organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of student journalists. We recommend you begin conversations with them as soon as possible.

We were also fortunate to have very strong support in our school, among our alumni and throughout the community. Countless students, alumni, community members and national journalism authorities stood behind The Spoke.

As you plan on how to handle your situation, we’ve included Web sites, letters, documents, fact sheets, plans and other information we used during our policy dispute. We hope that these will serve as a sort of model for one way in which your situation can be approached.

We’re not lawyers, so please ask the SPLC on any legal question, but we’re happy to speak with any publication facing censorship to share details of our experience. You can shoot us off an e-mail on the “Contact Us” page. 

We appreciate your interest, and we sincerely wish you the best of luck defending your publication and standing up for the ideals that define a democratic society.


Seth Zweifler

Editor in Chief 2009-10

Henry Rome

Editor in Chief 2008-09

Jonathan Yu

Co-Editor in Chief 2007-08