Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump: Reimagining the Town Square

Public officials cannot block naysayers from social media

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

The campus quad is a place where students, professors, administrators, staff, and visitors talk, walk, congregate, share ideas, play catch, hawk college newspapers, and so much more. It is a space that has traditionally been open and accessible, with few limitations, not only at public universities, but also at private colleges. In many respects, it is similar to a traditional town square, the open space in the heart of a town where people gather, share thoughts and are entertained.

Because they are open to all, town squares are, by law, considered to be traditional public forums which are given the highest level of First Amendment protection. They are public places that have by long tradition been devoted to speech and assembly. The government has a difficult time limiting speech in such spaces.

A public forum has traditionally been a physical place. But, in the 21st century, we interact in new digital types of public squares. On Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, we meet virtually, instead of in person, to share and debate ideas. Although we don’t throw a Frisbee disc as we do on the campus quad, we toss out our opinions to our virtual communities. What happens then, if public officials try to limit us from access to that online space because they don’t like our opinions? Can they do that? Or is that similar to telling a student that he can’t express his ideas to his friends while traversing the campus quad? Continue reading “Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump: Reimagining the Town Square”

Full Disclosure: Using FOIA requests in a college newsroom

McMichael’s student, Hannah Daniel, recently received copies of her grandfather’s World War II medals using the Freedom of Information Act.

How Georgia College students are breaking news using the state’s open records law

By Pate McMichael, adviser, The Colonnade, and senior lecturer, Georgia College

The first story broke on a Monday morning in our group chat: “I just heard a GC bus hit a person.”

Over the next five weeks, Georgia College, a public liberal arts university in Middle Georgia with 7,000 students, would experience the death of bicyclist, a devastating fraternity house fire, a norovirus outbreak that shut down the dining hall, an armed robbery blocks from campus, and the shooting of a GC student who narrowly survived.

Our tiny young staff at The Colonnade had little experience fielding red-hot news, but that group message changed everything. For the two editors staffing the news desk, the grind of those five weeks taught them a valuable lesson: getting public records in a timely manner can make or break the big story. Continue reading “Full Disclosure: Using FOIA requests in a college newsroom”

Student and professional journalists dealing with restrictions on sports coverage

By Frank D. LoMonte
Executive Director, Student Press Law Center


Fueled by billions in television and licensing revenues, college athletic departments are increasingly stiff-arming journalists by restricting access to practices and games. Meanwhile, media industry leaders are looking for ways to respond.

MugLogo_LoMonteThe start of football season in August 2012 brought a wave of new restrictions on journalists—professionals and students alike—who cover college athletics. Threatening to revoke press credentials or close practices, coaches at several schools, including the University of Southern California, Washington State University and the University of North Carolina, ordered journalists to refrain from reporting on player injuries observed during practices.

In recent years, colleges and athletic conferences have become increasingly assertive about controlling how media organizations use the information and images they gather at sporting events. Continue reading “Student and professional journalists dealing with restrictions on sports coverage”