Freedom Of The Press Gets A Serious Blow
When I was in college, and for many years after as part of my job, I closely followed college media trends. I still read up on it whenever possible, am still a subscriber to many college media mailing lists, and was even asked to judge in a college online media competition recently (which I am probably going to have to turn down due to the time involved). That being said, I was deeply saddened to hear that the Supreme Court decided it would not hear Hosty v. Carter (case No. 05-377) and let stand a June 2005 decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The news flash from the Student Press Law Center is here with their background on the case here. An AP-Wire story is here, but the long and short of it is that the case gives administrators at public colleges and universities the authority to censor student produced newspapers and publications, using the Hazelwood decision (which affected high schools, not grown adults) as a basis. It's a sad, sad day, really, and I really hope that colleges make formal declarations (like some schools in the 7th circuit have) that protect their students from administrators who have issues with content.
Thankfully, many college newspapers (like the newspaper at Oregon) are fully independent organizations and corporations which cannot be touched by administrators (and I know that in the past that UO administrators have made it clear they will never require prior review or censor the publications there). Just the same, the administrations at these campuses should still make it clear -- in official writing -- that the publications on campus are a designated public forum and that student editors, for better or for worse, have the authority to make all content decisions without fear of being censored or requiring prior review.
I know for more people who read this site, this is not a big deal. But as someone who probably spent more time in the newsroom in college than I did in the classroom, this is a very big deal.