Campus Speech | Prior Restraint

Arkansas Student Newspaper Overcomes Censorship Dispute


The controversy that ensued over an investigation published by student journalistsdespite a state law protecting their rightshas come to a close.

Student journalists at The Har Ber Herald were forced to remove a story from their website and had their operations suspended after they published a story questioning the school district’s approval to transfer six football players from their school to another, as requested by the athletes’ parents.

The Herald’s reporting questioned the inconsistency of the reason for the transfer given on the application and the reasons stated by the student athletes in interviews. The story relied on FOIA documents, interviews with the students in question, and other evidence.

The controversy began when the school’s principal got wind of the story before it was published, and asked the faculty advisor to review a copy before publication. The faculty advisor refused the request and published the story. District officials later demanded that the story be taken offline, and the newspaper complied.

When the staff requested to republish the story, they were met with opposition. They were told that the newspapers activity’s had been suspended and the faculty advisor had been threatened with disciplinary action if the paper continued to publish.

After the incident received national media attention, the school district has allowed the story to be put back online. It can be found here.

Buzzfeed News The Associated Press Arkansas Times