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Student-Run Newspapers Are Protected by the First Amendment

by | Aug 30, 2023 | First Amendment, Media Law

Do student newspapers and TV stations have the same degree of First Amendment protection as independent newspapers and broadcasters?

A pending Nebraska case will examine that question.

In the Northwest Public School District, the Viking Saga, a student-run newspaper, had been in publication for 54 years – until last year. District officials informed the staff of the paper’s termination in May 2022. Their reason: “an administrative decision.”  The most recent issue before administrators shuttered the newspaper covered LGBTQ+ topics including the history of pride month. And, earlier in the school year, school leaders told the paper that its staff would have to use names and pronouns given at birth. 

Now, the newspaper has filed a lawsuit. Nebraska school district faces lawsuit for censoring student media (splc.org) The newspaper alleges viewpoint discrimination, which is unlawful under the First Amendment. The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss. 

What do you think? Do school administrators have lawful reasons under the First Amendment to control the content of student newspapers?

I represent news media, bloggers, publishers, filmmakers, and citizens interested in government access, and others who operate under the First Amendment—seeking public records and access to public meetings; newsgathering; avoiding defamation lawsuits; suing Anti-SLAPP violators. My job is to help you get the records and access you need, help you get the story, help you get the story without getting arrested, help get the story published without defaming anyone, and then defend the story after publication.

If you need help with any of these areas and don’t have an attorney already, contact me: [email protected]. This post is not intended to be legal advice and does not form the basis of a lawyer-client relationship.


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