When you work for a college newspaper, you find yourself in a constant power struggle. You can't piss off the powers that be too much because they'll withhold access, but you also have to serve as a watchdog for the university you attend.
When something upsets that balance—when an outside force comes in and starts dictating how you should cover the various screw-ups that university administrations are not immune to—then that power struggle gets thrown off. The paper loses all ability to criticize the decisions of the administration.
This outside influence is what's going on at the University of Georgia's student paper right now, and it will probably result in the administration gaining the ability to f*ck over students in the future. If you go to the school, you should care about this.
Yesterday afternoon, top members of the editorial staff of the Red & Black (which we, admittedly, have poked fun at before) resigned, thanks to increasing control of the paper from non-students at the University of Georgia. 10 people were hired as permanent staff over the summer, all with the power to veto students' decisions. They now look at every paper before it goes to print, and they have asked for more "good," positive stories about the university's decisions than "bad" stories, whatever that means.
As a result, as editor-in-chief Polina Marinova explains in a blog post, the paper's editiorial independence was totally compromised.
The newspaper has always been a student-run operation, but recently, we began feeling serious pressure from people who were not students. In less than a month, The Red & Black has hired more than 10 permanent staff with veto power over students’ decisions.
In a draft outlining the “expectations of editorial director at The Red & Black,” a member of The Red & Black’s Board of Directors stated the newspaper needs a balance of good and bad. Under “Bad,” it says, “Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism.’ If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.” I took great offense to that, but the board member just told me this is simply a draft. But one thing that would not change is that the former editorial adviser, now the editorial director, would see all content before it is published online and in print. For years, students have had final approval of the paper followed by a critique by the adviser only after articles were published. However, from now on, that will not be the case.
Bad news for Georgia students. It's easy to make light of this, but if you're in college, many times student newspapers are the only forces out there calling out the administration for bullsh*t maneuvers they'll inevitably try to make. Once that power is taken away, anything goes. We're hoping the students get their voice back.
H/T: College Magazine