The student editorial staff of the award-winning University of Georgia (UGA) independent student newspaper The Red & Black quit en masse Wednesday in response to the appointment of a non-student editorial director with power of prior review of the paper. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a variety of other media have also covered the developing story, and the staffers who walked out are reporting on the situation from their new blog, Red & Dead.
A statement from former Editor-In-Chief Polina Marinova lays out the facts, and here is her explanation as to why the students quit:
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.Recently, editors have felt pressure to assign stories they didn’t agree with, take “grip and grin” photos and compromise the design of the paper.
But what’s most alarming to me is that there was no input from The Red & Black student staff about any of these changes….It all came from the top, not from the students. [Emphases added.]
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