When a student newspaper faced retaliation from the College of Staten Island nearly 20 years ago, student journalists didn’t have much help against censorious administrators. That’s starting to change.
Building on the recent “boot camp” work of national journalism organizations to train students who face increasing attacks on their work, the Society of Professional Journalists launched a new watchdog group called SMACK (Student Media Aid Cash and Know-How):
SMACK will help student journalists who are being censored or bullied by university administrations, student governments or others. It will assist students whose newspapers are shut down in starting their own independent publications, and will offer tech advice, recruit copyeditors – whatever is needed to help student journalists do more journalism. It will help with fundraising efforts to help censored student journalists start their own newspapers. If legal action is taken, it will help students apply for assistance from SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund to help pay for an attorney or other legal fees.
SMACK includes the close cooperation of the Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Association and Student Press Law Center as well.
Those who are facing harassment from administrators or student leaders should contact Michael Koretzky, director of SPJ Region 3, who is spearheading the initiative. They can also submit an online form.