After almost a week of controversy at the University of Georgia, good news broke yesterday in the ongoing struggle at award-winning independent student newspaper The Red and Black.
The controversy began last week when the entire student editorial staff of the campus publication quit following proposed changes to the paper’s staff and editorial process. The changes, drafted by the board of directors of The Red and Black, included the implementation of prior review by a non-student editorial director-an egregious usurpation of student editorial control. The staff’s resignations attracted national media attention and public support, leading the board of directors to rescind the drafted proposal, apologize for the scandal, and verbally agree to the students’ demands following a meeting last Friday. Board Member Ed Stamper, who drafted the original memo (PDF) outlining the changes, also resigned and apologized along with a number of other non-student professionals.
Now, we hear the welcome news that Editor-in-Chief Polina Marinova and Managing Editor Julia Carpenter have returned to the paper and will soon resume work. Following their reinstatement, the editorial staff reiterated the paper’s commitment to success and called for a "new era of open communication" between the board of directors and the staff in a joint statement issued with the Board.
FIRE is happy to see this case brought to a successful resolution. The controversy shed significant light on the importance of an independent student press on campus and provided a lesson for those who face similar challenges at colleges and universities across the country. As Marinova told The Chronicle of Higher Education, "If student journalists ever feel that their voice isn’t being heard, then they should speak up." We couldn’t agree more.