Student Press Law Center
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Student Press Law Center
Student Press Law Center
Student Press Law Center Logo.jpg
Formation1974 (1974)
Type501(c)(3) Non-Profit
PurposeAdvocate for student journalists and open government on campus
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.[1]
Region served
United States
Executive Director
Hadar Harris

The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) is a non-profit organization in the United States that aims to protect press freedom rights for student journalists at high school and university student newspapers. It describes itself as "an advocate for student free-press rights [that] provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them."

The SPLC was founded in 1974.[2] The Kennedy Memorial Foundation and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press created the center at the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into High School Journalism. The center became a separate corporation in 1979.[3] It is the only legal assistance agency in the United States with the primary mission of educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment and supporting the freedom of expression of student news media to address issues and express themselves free from censorship.[4][5][6]

The SPLC is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) corporation. It is headquartered in the University of California Building in Washington, D.C. It was previously headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, where it shared a suite of offices with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.[7]



  • Provides free legal help and information as well as low-cost educational materials for student journalists on a wide variety of media law topics, including laws regarding defamation, freedom of information, copyrights, invasion of privacy, reporter's privilege, obscenity, censorship, and the First Amendment.
  • Files amici curiae in cases where student media rights could be effected.[8]
  • Operates an Attorney Referral Network of approximately 250 volunteer media law attorneys across the country who may be available to provide free legal representation to local students when necessary.[9][10]
  • Maintains a free Freedom of Information Law Letter Generator that creates a public records request tailored to the law of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, for use by student journalists and others seeking access to public records.[11]
  • Staffs a legal representation hotline.[12]
  • Maintains a full-service news operation covering issues relevant to student journalism. The Center's journalists write online news stories[13] about ongoing censorship and open-records controversies, and produce the in-depth SPLC Report magazine in print and online.[14]
  • Presents annual awards to recognize student journalists, educators, and administrators that have shown courage in standing up for student press freedom.[15][16]


The SPLC has advocated for the passage of "New Voices" legislation at the state level to protect student journalists' rights.[17][18] The organization has promoted and funded Student Press Freedom Day on college campuses.[19]

Newspaper Theft

The organization tracks the theft of free newspapers on college campuses. The group considers the disappearance of the student newspapers as censorship by theft.[20][21]

Governance and staff

The SPLC is run by an executive director and a board of directors composed primarily of attorneys, professional journalists and journalism educators.[22] The current executive director, Hadar Harris, was named to the position in September 2017.[23][24] The previous executive director was Frank LoMonte,[25] who served from January 2008 until September 2017.[26][27] He was preceded by Mark Goodman, who served from 1985 to 2007.[28]


The SPLC is supported by contributions from student journalists, journalism educators, and other individuals, as well as by donations from foundations and corporations. On January 23, 2007, the SPLC successfully completed a three-year $3.75 million endowment campaign, spurred by a challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.[29][30] In 2017, the organization's total revenue was $763,920, as shown on IRS Form 990.


  1. ^,-77.039457,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89b7b65a2526a80b:0x3f3c192908dcdd82!8m2!3d38.9066639!4d-77.0372683?authuser=1
  2. ^ "Breaking the back of Hazelwood: a press lawyer's decade-long campaign". Poynter. 2017-07-17. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Jr.), David L. Hudson. "Student Press Law Center". Retrieved .
  4. ^ "SCJ". Archived from the original on 2007-06-21.
  5. ^ "Student Press Law Center". Idealist. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Got Censorship? Here's A Place To Turn". Poynter's High School Journalism Guide. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Student Press Law Center director tells UMD students their rights have "gotten worse"". The Diamondback.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  10. ^ Strauss, Valerie (April 5, 2017). "Analysis | What protections do student journalists really have? Check your state on this map". Washington Post. Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  12. ^ Gewertz, Catherine. "7 Signs That Your School Newspaper Risks Censorship". Education Week - Teaching Now. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "News Flashes". SPLC. Archived from the original on 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  15. ^ "Awards". SPLC. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Poynter". Poynter. Archived from the original on 2005-10-28.
  17. ^ "New Voices". Student Press Law Center. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "A nationwide movement protecting the student press from censorship gains momentum". The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. 2017-09-08. Retrieved .
  19. ^ Guenther, Abigail (January 21, 2020). "Student Press Freedom: demanding democracy". The Chronicle. Retrieved .
  20. ^ Fletcher, Paul (2019-12-26). "Censorship by theft". Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "Student Press Law Center | Newspaper theft in 2019: 8,500+ issues stolen, trashed in 13 incidents". Student Press Law Center. 2019-12-13. Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Student Press Law Center".
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Student journalists navigate coronavirus pandemic". Retrieved .
  25. ^ Elliott, Roxann. "Student Press Law Center executive director gives interview about New Jersey's New Voices law".
  26. ^ "Student Press Law Center names new executive director".
  27. ^ "Univ. law graduate earns prestigious position". Red and Black. 14 November 2007. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012.
  28. ^ "A Message from the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center".
  29. ^ "Student Press Law Center Seeks to Raise $3.75M for an Endowment". Editor and Publisher. 17 March 2005. Archived from the original on 18 March 2005.
  30. ^ "News Flash". SPLC. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18.

External links

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