Editors defeat proposal to put newspaper under control of communications school

Student, faculty objections cause director to drop plan

TEXAS -- Students and staff won a battle to protect the independence of the student-run newspaper at Texas Tech University in January, defeating an attempt by the director of the mass communications department to take over the publication.

Department director Jerry Hudson proposed in January that The University Daily be "administered by the School of Mass Communications." He suggested the appointment of a "non-student staff" member as a newsroom editor, who would also teach a journalism class in the department.

University Daily staff members strongly objected to the proposed changes, fearing they would lose editorial control over the newspaper. Faculty members also objected, citing a lack of information regarding the proposed changes and voicing support for the independence of the student-run newspaper.

Following widely publicized criticism of Hudson's suggested changes, second and third drafts of the proposal were released. These said there would be "no change in the responsibilities, salaries, editorial or news decisions by The University Daily student editors or reporters."

When the faculty of the department finally voted in February, the resolutions passed were simply assurances that the school of mass communications did not want any formal relationship with The University Daily.

As a result, the Daily will maintain its present informal relationship with the department. This arrangement allows students in journalism classes to submit classwork to be considered by the editors of the Daily for publication, but the newspaper will retain its independent status. The UniversityDaily will continue to have no formal connection with the department and receive no direct funding from the university.

University Daily editor Wayne Hodgins said most faculty members did not support Hudson's proposal.

"Dr. Hudson went over the faculty's heads," Hodgins said. "He went directly to the administration about it, and the faculty went into an uproar about that. ... The journalism faculty was totally against taking over The University Daily."  

reports, Spring 2000