College papers around the country run editorial to support ousted USC editor


Student newspapers around the country published an editorial last month condemning the University of Southern California for creating a ''chilling effect'' on college media by blocking the re-election of USC Daily Trojan Editor in Chief Zach Fox.

Eighteen college newspapers published the same editorial on Dec. 5 in support of Fox, who had been re-elected by the Daily Trojan's staff but was not approved by the university's media board.

''This was a very clear case where any of us, as a journalists, felt our journalistic integrity would have been compromised, if the same thing happened in our school,'' said Harvard Crimson Co-Editorial Chair Michael Broukhim, one of the editorial's writer.

Fox resigned from his fall position in protest of the board's decision and Jeremy Beecher, who was serving as the Daily Trojan's editorial director, was approved to take his place.The editorial questioned whether the university's action was in retaliation for changes proposed by Fox, including ''probing questions'' into the newspaper's budget and a push for financial transparency. 

Fox also wanted to reorganize student editor positions.

During his tenure, Fox said he requested more information from the university about the Daily Trojan's finances. He said he was repeatedly rejected but continued to advocate for financial transparency.

''As a journalist, I'm always pushing to get things revealed to people,'' Fox said. ''I think an editor can only effectively lead the paper if he knows where the resources are and where to allocate them.'' 

Fox also said he saw a need for the editor in chief to focus on what he calls ''bigger picture goals'' for the Daily Trojan. Some of the changes he proposed included creating another managing editor position for day-to-day production, which would allow the editor in chief to focus on long-term goals. 

Fox's application also said his proposals would ''keep editors sane, but also improve the newspaper.'' He said his staff was supportive of his ideas and he was eventually re-elected to the position. 

Adviser Larry Pryor stated in a memo that the vote for Fox was 37 to 28, indicating a lack of unanimous support.The university's media board still had to approve Fox's re-election. The board, which consists of students, faculty and administrators, approves policy affecting the Daily Trojan. But Fox's application never reached the group. 

Michael L. Jackson, the university's vice president of student affairs and chair of the board, refused to pass on Fox's application to the media board stating that Fox's goals were ''irreconcilable with the media board's outline for the role,'' according to the Dec. 5 editorial.

James Grant, a spokesperson for the university, said that Jackson deemed Fox's proposals ''inappropriate'' because they had not been properly discussed.

"No one else has ever applied for the job and then wanted to drastically change it,'' Grant said. ''It has never come up and it was determined that it was not the wisest approach."

But Fox said his proposals were not so radical that it warranted the rejection of his application. He also said he has not been informed about what part of the position's current job description would not have been fulfilled with the proposed changes.

''I knew what the job entailed, knew what it took to run the paper, and I thought we would be able to do that while achieving more goals,'' Fox said.

USC journalism professor Bryce Nelson, who is also a member of the media board, said he disagreed with how the university went against the votes of the student staff.

''I think students should be the people to pick their editor,'' Nelson said. ''The administration should be careful in overruling the wishes of the newspaper staff.''

Grant also said the university has taken Fox's proposals seriously. 

The Student Newspaper Task Force, created to analyze some of Fox's proposed goals, recently published a report recommending that the editor in chief and other senior editors have more input on the Daily Trojan's annual operational budget. The report also stated that the there is a need for its leadership to ''re-examine the roles'' of the editorial staff in order to update job descriptions as necessary.

Fox said he hopes that the recommendations will be approved and implemented.In a statement, Jackson said he would consider the task force's recommendation and make a decision in January.

Banding Together

Among the student newspapers that collaborated on and ran the editorial regarding editor selection at the University of Southern California were:The Brown Daily HeraldThe Cavalier Daily (U. Virginia)The Cornell Daily SunThe Daily Californian (California-Berkley)The Daily Evergreen (Washington State)The Daily Illini (U. Illinois)The Daily Orange (Syracuse U.)The Daily PennsylvanianThe Daily PrincetonianThe Daily Reveille (Louisiana State U.)The Daily SundialThe Daily Texan (U. Texas)The Daily Trojan (Southern California)The Harvard CrimsonThe Michigan Daily The Oregon Daily EmeraldThe Stanford DailyThe Yale Daily News

California, Daily Trojan, Harvard Crimson, reports, University of Southern California, Winter 2006-07