“It's really a good day for journalism teachers and journalism students everywhere. This is just an incredibly, incredibly important reaffirmation of the rights of students. It was an absolute must-win for the independence of student journalism and we're very thankful the court got it right.”—
Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Iowa court grants students broad free press rights.
Background: An Iowa school district disciplined the faculty advisor of a student newspaper after it ran an April Fools edition that included stories about a chemistry teacher running a meth lab, cheerleaders taking steroids and a doctored photo of a baby smoking in an article about the school’s tobacco policy.
The school contended that the articles violated state law for student-run newspapers by promoting illegal activity.
Via the Chicago Tribune:
The court ruled that an Iowa law gives students greater free speech rights than those afforded under a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted school administrators more leeway to censor student publications. Eight other states have similar laws or rules that grant students broad press rights, but Wednesday’s decision marked the first time a U.S. court has interpreted any of them…
…While the decision only interprets the law in Iowa, it could affect debates and legal disputes in other states amid a growing movement to give students more rights, [LoMonte] said.
How student journalists can cover the Aurora tragedy this fall
Many college papers shut down for the summer, but there will still plenty to write about when school starts next month.
Student Press Law Center blog on my job.
Kind of hilarious in a “I can’t believe some of these people are allowed to use federal tax funds to break the law” sort of way.
Colleges are nothing if not laboratories for experimentation with out-on-the-edge ideas. No thought is too wild, no notion too extreme, that it cannot be tested in the intellectual marketplace of the college campus.
That certainly is true of the alibis that college administrators give for refusing to honor requests for public records. The creativity of their excuses is completely uninhibited by the law, limited only by their ability to maintain a straight face.
We thought we’d heard every dog-ate-my-documents reason for obfuscating in the face of an open-records request, but the innovators at Oklahoma City Community College have opened up new frontiers in denial with their assertion to OCCC’s student newspaper, The Pioneer, that they are allowed to withhold otherwise-open records because of … the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Now, as a person with walking-around sense, you might think that a federal law requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations to the medical limitations of their employees, and to refrain from discriminating against those with limitations (whether actual or perceived), has nothing to do with the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Oh, but that is because you must be one of those color-inside-the-lines literalists who believes that laws are limited to mere words printed on a page.
If you look at the law more like a Jackson Pollock painting, and you squint at it through the eyes of a daringly innovative college administrator — or someone who’s been huffing a lot of paint thinner — then you’ll start to see that the law can mean whatever you say it means. As long as your students don’t have the money to take you to court.
Sigh. It shouldn’t be necessary even to shoot this one down, but…
The Americans with Disabilities Act contains one and only one reference to confidentiality. Section 12112(d)(3) of the Act provides that, if an employer requires a health exam as part of pre-employment screening, the employer must treat the exam results “as a confidential medical record” and share them only with statutorily authorized people (supervisors, first-aid personnel, investigators).
The ADA covers only information that is obtained by an entity such as OCCC in its capacity as an employer. It is a law about employer/employee relations, not a blanket “disability secrecy law.”
As in almost all states, Oklahoma law already provides an exemption allowing agencies to withhold records that would constitute a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” The same section of the Act also exempts “examination and selection material for employment” found in employee personnel files. Because of those exceptions, the ADA should never come into the discussion; any medical record covered by the ADA wouldn’t be a public document under Oklahoma law in the first place.
But of course, the reporters at The Pioneer understand this very well. They aren’t peeping Toms. They weren’t asking for records of people’s medical checkups, the results of which would almost never be legitimately newsworthy to print.
They were asking for the foundational types of public documents to which reporters at every city, county and college campus across the country routinely are given access, such as police department incident write-ups. And it was thosetypes of requests that prompted the college to invoke — among numerous other dubiously applicable exceptions — the ADA.
(And remember: Even if confidential medical information appears in a public document, it is the agency’s duty to redact the confidential portions and produce the rest, if practically feasible. So even the presence of a medical record in an otherwise-public government file does not excuse production of the entire file.)
In the words of Oklahoma State professor Joey Senat, a leading authority on the state’s open records statute, “OCCC officials… are treating college journalists with the same disrespect that many high school administrators show for their students.” (There’s a recruiting slogan for you: “Come to OCCC, and relive the best days of high school all over again.”)
To be clear: Unless what you are asking to see is a government employee’s pre-employment medical exam — and if you are, ick — the ADA has exactly as much relevance to your public-records requests as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.
OF COURSE the Vulture recaps of Girls are so damn stupid half the time
…because they are written by a college senior. Should have seen that one coming.
From the NYT quoting Vulture:
“He’s come a long way from last year, when Charlie was little more than Marnie’s overly doting long-term swain — “the boyfriend that, when you wake up in the morning, you can deposit your retainer in his hand,” said Kaitlin Phillips, a senior at Barnard who writes recaps of “Girls” for the Web site Vulture.
It was the bold thing to do, “but he was still totally emasculated by Marnie,” Ms. Phillips said. “He’s not attractive in a sexual way to anyone watching. He’s the friend-zone guy, and then you try to date his best friend.”
…don’t even get me started on the issue of friend zoning.
because Charlie is not the asshole that bitches about friend-zoning which is altogether a false thing, to quote Jacob Clifton on what that usually means:
“I thought maybe I could delude myself into thinking that you were into me. It’s called being a Nice Guy and I pulled the same shit on Maya. Sadly, Nice Guys — also, often, Crazy People — are so into their own stuff that they don’t really see you at all, just the stuff they’re projecting onto you. So vague girls like you — and flighty artsy girls like Maya — are the two kinds of person that most often become Dream Girls to us. It doesn’t matter if you say no or how hard you Friend-Zone me, because I wasn’t listening to you before and I’m certainly not going to listen now, so at the most what you’re doing is dicking me around and/or being a bitch. But because I put you on this pedestal, it seems to myself and sometimes even other people that I’m being a feminist, or at least I’m not a misogynist, when the truth is that I am a worse thing, which is a person so consumed by his own self that he honestly thinks women are objects put on this earth to carry his psychological burdens and has never known a person he didn’t demonize or divinize in this way. It’s kind of like being Neo in The Matrix, except you’re the only real person.”
Where do all the female journalists go?
I was surprised when I heard the news that 78% of front page news stories are written by men. Well, my first reaction was surprise and then I thought about it for two tenths of a millisecond and then I realised that no, that probably seems about right. I think we all know that there are more men in the newspaper industry than women but wouldn’t you agree that even that percentage seems a bit steep. It does however reflect findings that were made last year which showed that, again, 78% of bylines in the national newspapers were attributed to men.