Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Censors Run Wild at Kansas State

By Shawn Healy
Last year's Hosty v. Carter decision in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck a blow to student press rights at the collegiate level. It applied the Hazelwood high school predecent to college newspapers, enabling administrative censorship prior to publication for legitimate pedagogical reasons. The impact of this decision is limited to the three-state region of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but a recent case in the 10th Circuit presents another challenge.

A current case considers the dismissal of a Kansas State newspaper advisor after administrators conducted a content analysis of the Collegian. Finding the quality "overall lacking," advisor Ron Johnson lost his job and the student editors proceeded to file suit, claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights. This decision could have far-reaching implications for campus newspapers, especially if the verdict is appealed and accepted for review by the Supreme Court.

I tackled this issue in a journal article set to run in the April 2007 edition of Political Science and Politics, and promise to publish it here in complete form at that time. The bitter irony is that student press rights are increasingly restricted in an environment where they must learn the rigors of the evolving news industry. Restrictive measures shield students from the realities of the challenging landscape they will be ill-prepared to enter.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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