Student editors protest plans to implement media boards





Student editor Laurent Lawrence had one reply when officials at Utica College began discussing the formation of a board to oversee the student newspaper. 

Resignation. 

Lawrence, along with four other editors and the adviser of The Tangerine, said they left the newspaper last semester in fear that the creation of a media board would lead to the school having control over the paper’s content. 

“I think it would be detrimental to the nature of newspapers to have an advisory board of any sort,” Lawrence said. “Any student newspaper that is being overseen by a [college body] wouldn’t do what it needs to do for the students.”

Kim Landon, who advised the weekly paper for eight years, said she resigned at the end of the spring semester because she refused to work under an advisory board. She will continue to teach journalism. 

Ken Kelley, vice president of student affairs, said he was not forcing a media board, but he had discussed it with journalism faculty and the department chair. 

Kelley said a media board could help the student paper because it could clarify regulations for hiring and firing editors and could be responsible for funding. A decision on the creation of a board is unclear, and a possible structure is yet to be determined. Kelley said he will discuss it with journalism faculty in the fall and it will be up to them to decide. 

Student editors at Southwest Minnesota State University are opposing the student government’s attempt to implement a media board. 

Chris Rowell, editorial page editor of the Impact student newspaper, said he thinks a board would undermine the authority of the editors.

“At the very worst, it could be a fiasco,” he said. “Lawsuits could happen because the media board might think it has more control over the content of the paper than it has legally.”

Scott Ewing, assistant director for student development, said the student government constitution describes a student media board, although a board has never been implemented. He said the student government recently began discussing a board. If one were formed, it would oversee the student newspaper, the literary journal and the campus television and radio stations.  

“The students are paying for this [through student activity fees] and they need somebody looking into it so we know what is going on, for liability reasons,” Ewing said. “You have to put a check and balance on it, and it will minimize the ability of the [newspaper] staff from turning it into their own paper verses the public paper.”

Ewing said the board would not infringe on the rights of the student journalists. 

Ruthe Thompson, adviser to both the Impact and Mindscapes, the literary journal, said she and the student editors plan asking the student government to remove the article in the constitution. However, the decision as to whether a board will be implemented is up to the student government.


Fall 2003, Impact, reports, Southwest Minnesota State University, The Tangerine, Utica College