Those who were following the saga of our campus paper will be pleased to know that the folks who walked out on it after administrative censorship have started up their own newspaper, The Quad News. As the Society of Professional Journalists’ FOI FYI blog notes, the difference between a genuinely independent press and a school PR vehicle can easily be seen in a comparison of their first issues. I know which one I’ll be reading. And while I am supportive of students who want to be a part of The Chronicle, I’m not sure how much it will help their career in the long run to be associated with a paper that is so clearly on the ropes. I know that if a student asked me, I’d encourage her to join the independent effort.
I wonder if this will get me banned from campus. This morning, the Yale Daily News is reporting that the QU Administration is threatening to ban the Society of Professional Journalists from campus, because of their support of the new venture. This moves us from the strange to the completely bizarre. What’s next, banning the ABA? It’s like the administration wants to announce to the world that we are a laughable “university.” I don’t think we are, but threatening the premier voice of press freedom in the US is a great way of making us look really, really backwards.
I’m not opposed to public relations, or to putting your best foot forward. Quinnipiac has a lot to offer, and we should communicate that to the public. False humility is bad for us and bad for students who might find a place here. Unfortunately, the fiasco with our campus paper has hurt our university, and hurt our journalism program’s standing, and continues to do so. As I said before, had the crisis been handled in a more enlightened way, it would have presented an outstanding opportunity to showcase the administration’s support of faculty and students. Instead, it made the values the university claims to stand for look pretty hypocritical.
Although I certainly have nothing against the university’s new “student media coordinator” personally, I question whether the administration’s words match its actions. By bringing on someone to act, essentially, as an editor, it appears that they want to be directly responsible for our media, and any libel that might appear. Moreover, this is now extending to all campus media.
In any case, the creation of a truly independent university paper is a great step. I can only hope that in time the university administration recognizes this, and stops muddying the waters by attempting to leash campus publication and broadcasting.