Student Press Law Center Celebrates 50 Years Empowering Student Journalists Amid Unprecedented Press Freedom Challenges on Student Press Freedom Day

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a year where student journalists are playing an increasingly crucial role in the news ecosystem, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) celebrates its 50th anniversary as the sole legal organization exclusively devoted to supporting student journalists. As student press freedoms face unprecedented challenges, this year's Student Press Freedom Day on Feb. 22, adopts the theme “Powerfully Persistent.”

Student Press Freedom Day

“SPLC's half-century milestone underscores the critical need to safeguard the First Amendment rights of student journalists who are navigating a landscape fraught with challenges,” said Gary Green, SPLC's executive director and a veteran journalist. “As they navigate the complexities of censorship, these students not only fill critical news gaps, but also redefine the future of journalism, proving that their voices are not just vital, but indispensable.”

SPLC empowers student journalists with confidence, countering censorship and other press freedom challenges through a legal hotline, pre-publication review, attorney referral network, advocacy and ongoing support. Its initiatives include comprehensive training and resources to equip students with the legal knowledge necessary to report boldly in their communities and to champion the First Amendment.

“Many school administrators attempt to water down stories or apply pressure on students to avoid hot-button topics and ‘paint the school in a positive light,’ but that is not journalism,” said Green. “Student media are essential in informing their campus community and are also playing an increasingly larger role in covering local news, especially in news deserts where their presence fills the void.”

Beyond being a source of information for millions of Americans, student-reported news holds a transformative power. It not only shapes the stories they write, but leaves an enduring imprint on the journalists they become.

“SPLC helped me when I was a troublesome high school journalist and the board shut down our paper,” said Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign and domestic opinion columnist for The New York Times and author of “Chasing Hope” (Knopf, May 2024). “SPLC's support in my early student journalism years significantly boosted the confidence that defines my current journalistic path.”

Programs like the SPLC-coordinated New Voices movement play a pivotal role in restoring and protecting student press freedoms. It empowers students to advocate for state laws that counter the impact of the 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision, which created a First Amendment carve-out for student journalists and permits school administrators broad discretion to censor them.

Recent instances of student journalists exhibiting “Powerfully Persistent” actions in telling important stories or advancing the New Voices movement include:

  • Mountain View (California) High School’s student journalist, Hanna Olson, whose newspaper staff faced pressure to censor a story about sexual harassment at school. After publishing the story and facing repercussions, including the removal of their adviser, the students persisted and SPLC intervened, connecting them with a local attorney to demand restoration.


Simon Mehring

As SPLC celebrates its 50th year, the organization appeals for contributions at to promote, support and defend the rights of student journalists and faculty advisers nationwide. SPLC remains committed to championing the First Amendment, educating high school and college students on the law, and ensuring their voices contribute to a healthy democratic society.

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:


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