Posts Tagged ‘Student Press’

On Tuesday, multiple thieves swiped nearly 500 copies of The Signal at Georgia State University.  According to a Signal tweet a half hour ago, they grabbed the copies from newsstands near the campus bookstore.

Security footage captures at least three alleged thieves– all male, seemingly student age– in full-color, high-resolution, brazenly carrying Signal stacks away.

If you have information on the whereabouts of the stolen Signals or know the identities of the alleged student press thieves, please email me or tweet @gsusignal.


Central Connecticut State Suspends Soccer Coach, Fines Athletic Department $100,000 for Student Paper Theft

Monmouth College Student Newspaper Theft Linked to Article on Student Nativity Theft

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Late last month, athletics officials at Stony Brook University threatened the press credentials of a student magazine in response to a staffer’s comedic live-tweeting of a football game.  It is one of the stranger student press censorship cases I have come across.

The needed backdrop: Along with a terrific journalism school, there are three major student media outlets at SBU.  The Statesman is the fantastic longtime student newspaper.  The Stony Brook Independent is a respected independent online news source.  And The Stony Brook Press is an established biweekly alternative known for its mix of serious and satiric content.

The 30-second gist: The Press recently covered SBU football’s one-point Homecoming win over Colgate University.  A pair of photographers captured shots from the sidelines.  A reporter worked on a serious recap from the press box.  And a separate staffer sat in the stands, live-tweeting the action on the field in humorous fashion.  As the Press explained, “His objective was to live-tweet the game, while making references to any sport but football. . . . If anything, we were poking fun at our lack of knowledge when it comes to sports.”  SBU officials were apparently not amused, threatening to revoke the magazine’s press credentials for the rest of the year unless it started tweeting correctly.

The tweets at the center of the odd uproar are quite funny, and seemingly harmless.  Here is a sampling featured in a Storify created by the Student Press Law Center, along with a rebuke tweet from SBU Athletics:

According to Press managing editor Tom Johnson, as paraphrased by the SPLC, following the warning tweet shown above, “the athletics department sent the magazine a direct message: ‘I strongly suggest you come up to the press box to discuss your inability to tweet the correct way.’  Later in the game, an athletic official approached one of the magazine’s photographers, telling her that if the tweeting didn’t stop they would take away the paper’s credentials.”

In an editorial about the incident– headlined “Don’t Censor Me, Bro!”— the Press clarified that the tweeting staffer had not attended the game using an SBU-issued press pass.  As the editors noted:

“In many ways, the Athletics Department was overstepping their boundaries by doing this. First of all, under the First Amendment, we have the right to publish anything we want, even tweets. . . . If the person live-tweeting had been in the press box, preventing another reporter from factually covering the game, their request to stop would have been justified. If any directly offensive references had been made in the tweets, their distress would have been understood. But the fact is, the person live-tweeting the game was simply a student sitting in the stands, which is in no way violating any rules. . . . Did the Athletics Department have a right to threaten revocation of our press credentials? Simply put, yes. Technically, if we don’t cover a sporting event in a manner that the Athletics Department deems appropriate, it has the right to take back the press credentials they issued to us.  But that doesn’t make it right.”

My Take: I agree with the editorial.  Threatening the student press in any way for coverage you simply don’t like or don’t understand is never right.  It’s also almost always an overreaction.  Seriously, SBU Athletics, just enjoy the win.  Respect the press, and the Press.  And get a sense of humor.  I mean, c’mon, if nothing else, that sand trap/power play tweet has to make you giggle, at least a little, right? :)

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The Daily Orange is at last in control of its own online destiny.  At the start of fall semester, the Syracuse University student newspaper unveiled a website free from “the order imposed by College Publisher . . . their CMS, ad network, and host.”

The new design specs are professional, clutter-free, and white-black-and-gray-hued (of course with specs of SU orange).  My favorite new elements: the scrollable photo slideshows embedded within some of the main story pages; the separate photo galleries featuring images in all their gigantic high-res glory [one example here]; and the removable sidebar option that allows all featured stories to appear larger and center screen.

According to editor-in-chief Mark Cooper, the Daily Orange redesign was handled by Upstatement, “a firm out of Boston directed by a few SU (and DO) alums.”  A related post on the Upstatement site lays out a variety of digital looks adopted by the Orange over the years, including the late-’90s design below.

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In a public statement issued yesterday afternoon, the president of Bryan College confirms his spiking of a student journalist’s story late last week “may have been a mistake.”

As I previously postedAlex Green, editor-in-chief of The Bryan College Triangle, self-published a piece yesterday outlining the real reason behind the sudden, quiet resignation of a Biblical studies professor at the Tennessee Christian college: his arrest over the summer during an FBI sting for attempting to meet up with a minor.  Charges include “attempted aggravated child molestation and child sexual exploitation.”

Green wrote, printed, and distributed the article [screenshot below] on his own four days after Bryan’s president Stephen Livesay told him it could not be run in the Triangle.

Livesay’s subsequent explanatory statement, posted on, offers an apology of sorts– not for the censorious action but to those who may have been “upset or offended” by it.  It also provides a refreshingly candid, if off-base, account of the school’s rationale for the decision.

According to Livesay, “My cabinet and I agreed that since the faculty member resigned on his own initiative, that the events surrounding the resignation occurred during the summer when students were not on campus, and that the resignation involved charges being filed, but no proof of guilt (legal matters are not the expertise of the college administration), the wisest course of action for the college and our students would be to not issue a statement about the resignation.”

It’s a fairly cringe-inducing excuse.  At my most cynical, I frankly find it hard to believe. At face value, I’m left to conclude that– along with legal matters– a basic understanding of journalism is not in the college administration’s wheelhouse.

Ultimately though, I give Livesay credit for stepping up and sharing his side of the scandal.  As he notes, “Our intent was to look at the situation as Christians and do what was right.  As humans, we are fallible.  What we can do is learn from our mistakes.”


College President Kills Story About Prof. Charged with Child Sex Crimes, So Student Editor Self-Publishes It

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This is a guest post written by David Sullivan, an assistant managing editor and the copy desk chief at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where I worked briefly while earning my journalism master’s degree at Temple University.  He is weighing in with a few thoughts related to the recent exchange between Steve Buttry and I regarding the advantages and challenges embedded within student press innovation efforts.

I was reading your exchange with the prolific Steve Buttry and I came again to that phrase “where they live.”  [For example, Buttry begins his Nieman Journalism Lab piece by stating, “Students live digital-first lives.  Student media need to become digital-first.”]  Now, my son is 24 and so while I am of AARP age I am not personally unaware of how differently younger adults and college students access media than I do.  Yet at the same time, through my son I have met many who, while they communicate with their friends on Facebook and the like and find restaurants on Yelp, do not “live there.”

Not to shave the onion too closely, but in college, they “live” on campus.  My son “lives” in New York City.  He “lives” at the financial firm where he works.  While he reads the Wall Street Journal online, he does not “live” online.  My niece is 27, lives in Grand Rapids, and doesn’t even have an Internet connection at home.  (Not that this makes her subscribe to the Grand Rapids Press.)

What struck me is, when you look at the vast number of posts, tweets, and the like, it is someone like Steve Buttry– all of us in media know people like him– who “lives” online. And so much of media writing today has always seemed to be based on, “The world is like me”– whether it’s electronic-media junkies or print diehards.  Whereas for most people, media– print, electronic, digital, whatever– is something they check in with from time to time, but they don’t “live” digitally any more than they “live” analogally (if there is such a word).

In Philadelphia, where I work, tons of younger people read the Metro newspaper daily because it’s 1) free, 2) written in short bites, 3) written about things they are interested in, and 4) easily foldable.  The fact that it’s in print is no more an impediment than it is for a college daily.  I realize that downsizing dailies has not saved them across Europe from financial trauma.  But there’s this assumption that every college student is intrinsically living in some online universe, when a lot of what they’re doing is just the equivalent of passing notes in class, or watching a video instead of daydreaming.

A person like Steve Buttry– who when he was at the Cedar Rapids Gazette probably read his own paper, and the Des Moines Register, and the Times, and the Journal, and watched CNN, etc.–  “lives” in media online because before there was online he “lived” in media offline.  Nothing wrong with that.  But a lot of young people don’t live there.


Advantages, Disadvantages to Student Media Digital Experimentation: My Response to Steve Buttry Report

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Welcome to the fifth episode of the College Media Podcast.  The CMP is a new collaborative venture between me and Bryan Murley from the Center for Innovation in College Media.

The podcast’s aim: spotlighting big college media news, standout student press work, and array of helpful and innovative sites, programs, and tech tools.

In our most recent episode, recorded Friday afternoon, we started with a breakdown of the high-profile USA TODAY redesign (including its new balls) and segued to a discussion about a similarly buzzworthy flap at American University involving classroom breastfeeding and some quality student newspaper reporting.


American University Professor Attacks Student Paper for Asking About Her Mid-Class Breastfeeding

College Media Podcast #4: The Harvard Crimson Quote Review Reversal & More Gaming the News

College Media Podcast #3: RNC, Student Newspaper Presidential Endorsements & Gaming the News

College Media Podcast #2: RNC, Princeton Review Rankings, Oklahoma Daily Autopsy Report

College Media Podcast #1: A Red & Black Breakdown

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Late last week, administrators at Washington’s Pacific Lutheran University briefly shut down the website of The Mooring Mast student newspaper due to an intramural dodgeball story containing some curse words.

The PLU men’s dodgeball team F-ck Sh-t Up (with all the letters included) recently lost a campus championship to its rivals Voodoo Magic.  (An FSU player attributed the defeat to overconfidence and a lack of rest and practice time between the dodgeball and flag football seasons.)

For a story on the squad’s setback, Mooring Mast sports editor Justin Buchanan crafted the headline, “F-ck Sh-t Up drops the ball” (again, with all the letters included).  The team’s name also appeared, in full, in the article.

As Buchanan explained Sunday, “We then met as an editorial board and discussed four main questions presented by editor-in-chief junior Heather Perry: 1) Did the headline represent what happened?  2) What did the AP stylebook say?  3) Was using the words worth it?  4) Are we ready to defend it?  After much discussion and debate, the majority of editors present felt the headline was worthy of press.”

PLU officials disagreed.  They pulled the story link and teaser from the paper’s homepage (on the school server) Friday morning and contacted editors, requesting the vulgarities be removed from the headline.  As the Mooring Mast itself reported, administrators said they removed the piece because the paper violated AP style rules on profanity and obscenity by running F-ck and Sh-t in full.  A spokesman separately told The News Tribune the appearance of the vulgarities on the school site was “detrimental to PLU’s image.”

After some confusion about whether they were targeting just the headline or all references, admins. shut down the paper’s entire site “so a conversation could take place.”  As a Mooring Mast story noted on Sunday, “For the first time since the 1970s, Pacific Lutheran University has exercised power to censor content in its forum for student journalistic expression.”

Editors ultimately decided to dash out the profane parts of the team’s name.  PLU put the paper’s site back online four hours later.  The piece is once again featured on it.  And Buchanan has publicly apologized for an admittedly hasty late-night headline decision.

But tensions linger over the school’s heavy-handed tactics.  In a well-written reflection on the incident, editor-in-chief Heather Perry notes, “We’re not defending what we published.  We’re defending our rights to decide our editorial content as student journalists.  That distinction should be recognized. . . . Please consider that supporting censorship is not about saying you don’t want to see profanity in our newspaper.  Supporting censorship means you support restricting the flow of information, which could prevent you from forming your own opinion on controversial topics.”

My take: PLU dropped the ball.  Administrators overreacted, choosing to temporarily silence an ENTIRE paper over a few questionable words.  The whole shebang is littered with double standards.

Double standard #1: Student intramural teams (and apparently other campus groups) are allowed to sport profanities in their names.  But the student paper isn’t allowed to refer to these teams/groups in full when they are newsworthy?

Double standard #2: The student paper’s print edition– featuring the original dodgeball piece– hit newsstands Thursday without any trouble.  A day later, PLU decided the profanities were a problem, but only online.

Double standard #3: The school lamely said the reason for the story’s takedown was its lack of adherence to AP style.  AP style is a set of unofficial guidelines, used, adapted, and ignored by news outlets at their discretion.  My guess is that like every paper there are multiple AP style snafus in every issue of the Mooring Mast, purposeful and accidental.  Has the paper ever been censored for these snafus?  Have admins. ever informed the paper it must follow AP style rules– or else?  My guess: No.  So we’ll call PLU’s sudden obsession with AP style voodoo magic– or a misdirection from what is really just a PR issue.

At least give editors the courtesy of an honest rationale: You messed with the paper because it published something you consider detrimental to the school’s image.

It’s f—ing censorship (all letters included).

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