Teaching journalism beyond our newsrooms

On educating non-journalism students, colleagues, and administrators about 1A, the role of the campus press and media advisers

By Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.
Marywood University

Cheryl Reed, former adviser of The North Wind, the student newspaper at North Michigan University, is the latest casualty in war between College Administrations and the First Amendment. Just a few months earlier, it was Jim Compton, former adviser of The Calumet at Muscatine Community College in Iowa.

TheWoodWord_Wotanis
In five years of advising Marywood University’s student newspaper, The Wood Word, I’d never once received a phone call asking me to “rethink” something until…

At a time when colleges and universities around the country are facing enrollment crises, student newspapers that publish less-than-favorable stories about their campuses are seen by administrators as ‘problems’ that need handling. So are their advisers, who are often also faculty members. Sadly, the solutions to the problems are usually censorship or termination of the media advisers.

Reports have suggested that at Northern Michigan, Reed and the student in line for the editor-in-chief position were fired after the student newspaper published reports critical of the administration and of the university’s finances. Reed has since filed suit against the newspaper’s board of directors. The suit names five students and Steve Neiheisel, the university’s vice president for enrollment management and student services, whom Reed claims influenced the students to terminate her.

“Colleges and universities need to foster an open environment where student media outlets are free from interference, even from publication boards,” said College Media Association (CMA) President Rachele Kanigel in an email to members about the case. “There are many ways to bully student media and removing an adviser is simply that: bullying.” Continue reading Teaching journalism beyond our newsrooms