College newspaper editor gets the boot

FLORIDA — A Florida student who is suing his college said he believes censorship played a role in the loss of his position at the student newspaper.

Glenn Danforth, the former managing editor of the Brevard Community College student newspaper, filed suit in August against the college because he believes he was removed from his position over controversy caused by the stories he published.

A federal district court issued an order in October reinstating Danforth as the managing editor of The Capsule.

Danforth was removed from the managing editor position at The Capsule at the end of the 1997 spring semester.

He also was informed he would not be given the job of managing editor for the 1997 fall semester he had been promised earlier in the year.

Danforth said he believes he lost the position because the administration, headed up by community college district president Maxwell King, wanted to censor his stories and exercise prior restraint over the newspaper.

Jim Ross, associate vice president of college relations at Brevard, said Danforth was not rehired as the managing editor only so that other students would have a chance to fill the position.

“I’m not aware of any student who has been the managing editor for three semesters in a row,” Ross said.

Danforth was hired as the managing editor of The Capsule in May 1996 by Sam Stanley, then the newspaper adviser. Danforth said Stanley had promised him the managing editor1s position.

Stanley said when he promised Danforth he could keep the editor position, he meant the news editor position, another position Danforth filled at the newspaper. The news editor is responsible for laying out the newspaper and has no involvement in deciding content.

Danforth said he is not suing the school because he wants the managing editor position, but he thinks the school administration is violating the First Amendment.

“It’s not about the money, not about the job, it’s about principle. There is no evidence of any reason to fire me except to shut me up,” Danforth said.

During Danforth’s time as managing editor, The Capsule was named Florida’s best college newspaper in the community college division by Florida Leader magazine.

Danforth says he attributes some of the paper’s success to his decision “not to run away from controversial issues.”

Some of those controversial issues covered in the newspaper which Danforth said he believes led to his dismissal include several articles criticizing the college.

Ross said there were some articles published in The Capsule that upset some faculty members, but college administrators were careful to warn them they should not try to take any action because it was the student’s First Amendment right to publish what they deemed appropriate.

Depositions for the case began in September and a hearing date has not been set. The court issued an injunction against the university in late October stating the college must immediately reinstate Danforth as managing editor until the case is decided.

The order from the court stated “Danforth has shown that the [college] removed him as managing editor of the student newspaper because the college’s administration disagreed with the content of The Capsule.”

reports, Winter 1997-98