Written by: Eric Jackson
As campus media outlets continue to work as career stepping stones for students at universities nation-wide, the fight for editorial independence remains a never-ending obstacle .
This is noticeable as a bystander, but it all came to light last spring, after leaving the Georgia College Press Association convention.
Throughout the weekend trip, during meetings and seminars, editors from their respective schools all over Georgia shared stories and opinions.
Nobody’s stories, however, were more uncanny than an editor from Mercer University.
He openly expressed accounts where the administration has forced The Cluster to change its content to fit their own satisfaction. He even mentioned one occasion where they vehemently snatched newspapers off the stands.
Because of pressure from the bigwigs (who wear the suits and ties) The Cluster cooperates without a peep.
The Cluster, which has been alive since 1920, is not independent from Mercer.
Institutions with independent, student-ran publications recognize the first amendment and strive to mirror the real-world industry regardless of possible controversy.
The type of school a student journalist enrolls in has a huge effect on what content they’ll potentially produce and distribute.
For example, the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is arguably the best around, yet the school’s renowned student newspaper, The Red and Black, has had its own independent struggles, most notably last year.
In August 2012, members of the newspaper walked out passionately together in protest soon after the paper hired 10 permanent members who were granted the power to veto student decisions.
This happens more often than you would think, and this case was magnified mainly due to it involving one of the nation’s most acclaimed publications.
The Spectator, like The Red and Black, is not financially dependent on the institution or its president.
“The students have lost control of the paper, and a student newspaper is supposed to be run by students,” Amanda Jones, design editor for The Red and Black, told Online Athens. “We’re losing power while they are hiring permanent employees that are not students. We are losing control. At this point, every single top staffer walked out.”
Nonetheless, The Spectator is being reassured that its members won’t be losing control in that department. President McKinney is willingly signing the Student Press Law Center Model Guidelines for College Media bill on Friday, a signature The Spectator has longed for since former VSU president Dr. Louis Levy was in office.
The signing cements that the president and his administration will continue to be solely readers and nothing more.
So far, President McKinney has been ideal for us, refraining from intrusion and backing our fellow campus media outlets.
The Spectator uses this editorial to say thank you for your patronage and encouragement.
It’s safe to say none of us will be protesting – at least no time soon.