University Newspaper Figures Out How To Get Around Administration's Censorship Orders

from the +1-for-cleverness dept

There are times when university newspapers come under pressure from university administrations to suppress certain stories. It rarely ends well. NiemanLab points us to a story about how the LaSalle University Collegian cleverly got around one attempt to suppress a story. First, the background. You might have heard the story about the LaSalle University professor who apparently hired strippers who did lapdances for students (and the professor) as a part of a "business seminar." Having attended business school at one point in my life, I don't recall that part of the curriculum.

Anyway, apparently the Collegian had a story about this incident ready to go before all the news broke, but the University ordered them not to publish it while it investigated. Instead, someone else broke the story and it went viral quickly, leaving the Collegian out on a story for which it had the scoop. After that, the paper again wanted to run its original story and again the administration blocked it. Eventually, the Dean of students said it was okay, but only if it ran below the fold (the lower half of the front page, for those not familiar with newspaper lingo). Apparently, this was not the first time the administration had ordered the paper to publish stories that were embarrassing to the school below the fold.

However, this time the paper's editor was ready. Here's what the paper looked like:

Photo by Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel of the Philadelphia Inquirer
If you can't see it, the entire area "above the fold" is blank... other than the text:
See below the fold
The paper also put out an editorial explaining how it's "not a real newspaper," because as a student newspaper controlled by the University, it cannot print whatever it wants. In that editorial, they also admit that they only post their content online a day after the actual paper runs, because University officials wants to make sure that there are no "inaccuracies or 'potentially damaging material.'" The editorial also admits that the paper has no Twitter or Facebook accounts, despite prior promises that they were coming... because the administration "did not feel comfortable with our news stories being distributed through social media."

Frankly, the administration at LaSalle should be ashamed of itself. It's not teaching these students journalism at all. It's teaching them about a paranoid administration that wants to hide from the truth. This aspect of the story seems a hell of a lot more damaging to LaSalle University than the original story of the strippers. That could have just been one crazy professor. But the systematic censorship of a student newspaper concerning "damaging" content suggests a university that people shouldn't want to be associated with. If an organization is afraid of the press, there's usually a damn good reason why: because they have things to hide.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    identicon
    Donnicton, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Having attended business school at one point in my life, I don't recall that part of the curriculum.

    Wait, what? Realistically, that has to be the most accurate depiction of modern business that I've ever seen done in a school.

    It's the newer, more up-to-date curriculum accurately demonstrating the age old practice of taking a client to your local strip club to discuss business contracts and agreements.

    If they don't learn it in school, how the hell can they be expected to know how to properly execute these deals in practice?

     

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      Mike42 (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

      Re:

      Donnicton IS right. I've worked in a lot of places, and I can't think of a single business that DIDN'T take their more important clients to a strip club if they were interested!

       

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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    If an organization is afraid of the press, there's usually a damn good reason why: because they have things to hide.

    This x 1000.

     

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    Atomboy, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Journalism 101

    Frankly, the administration at LaSalle should be ashamed of itself. It's not teaching these students journalism at all. It's teaching them about a paranoid administration that wants to hide from the truth.

    I and a few others might point out that this is exactly what happens at every major news organization around the world. That is the reality which we live in.

     

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    identicon
    ;), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    National security card

    "If an organization is afraid of the press, there's usually a damn good reason why: because they have things to hide."

    National security!!! Who knows, maybe the university is researching something for the government related to national security.

     

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      known coward, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

      Re: National security card

      it is to protect the children, protect the children.

      seriously it looks like the school is giving its students and excellent dose of reality, and should be commended for squashing any idealism out of their tiny hearts.

      shame on you mike shame.

       

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    AJ (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:32pm

    Real Life?

    It's not teaching these students journalism at all. It's teaching them about a paranoid administration that wants to hide from the truth.

    On the other hand though, isn't that teaching them about the real world? The students do seem to be getting round some of the road-blocks if they hadn't, this story wouldn't be here at all...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

    The stripping for the professor story ran in the Philly Inquirer for at least a couple of days before I saw the story of the school paper - with that same photo - that was denied coverage.

    So. DOUBLE the embarrassment for LaSalle, two ex-po-zays in one week.

    wtg.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 4:41pm

    Brings back memories

    "Having attended business school at one point in my life, I don't recall that part of the curriculum."
    We actually did have a professor who a) showed his all-male class a 16mm breast self-examination film each semester, and b) organized a bus trip to the US Treasury each year... 15 minutes of snapshots on the front steps, then off to the Washington, DC strip clubs.

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:09pm

    Apparently it has taught them journalistic principles: they found a way, through the written word alone, to be the best independent force they could be, and they also knew they had to disclose all the ways in which they were being hindered. That's what true journalism really is all about...

     

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    pegr, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:23pm

    Wow!

    Brilliant move, kids. You guys (and gals) are going places. Bravo, well done!

     

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    Kerry Kaye (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

    "If an organization is afraid of the press, there's usually a damn good reason why: because they have things to hide."

    Hmm, sounds very similar to the refrains from people happy to take away our rights: "only [guilty people/people breaking the law/people with something to hide/etc] [run from the police/think TSA searches are unreasonable/disagree with the president/etc].

    That being said, I think stifling the press from publishing stories like these is "bad thing" and I wonder when people will realize that it will only come back to bite them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    I never heard of a University where the staff has direct control over the paper.

    At my school it was an independent venture.

    Likewise, it says a lot that the students put up with this when all the tools they need to create and publish their own paper with no oversight are available, for free.

     

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    DS, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 8:19pm

    Nice. Kudos to them.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 12:39am

    "professor who apparently hired strippers who did lapdances for students (and the professor) as a part of a 'business seminar.'

    What?... WHAT!?!

    Now I am positive I need to start teaching business at Uni instead of my boring IT&Law subjects I currently am... Hmmmm no wonder the Business School lecturers look happy all the time!

     

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    Mr.E, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:23am

    Re; Kerry

    Organizations with power over citizens should be transparent.

    Citizens should be as opaque as possible to said organisations.

    Basics of deomocracy.

     

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    Shon Gale (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    I thought you described Journalism perfectly and I quote 'It's teaching them about a paranoid administration that wants to hide from the truth. This aspect of the story seems a hell of a lot more damaging to LaSalle University than the original story of the strippers. That could have just been one crazy professor. But the systematic censorship of a student newspaper concerning "damaging" content suggests a university that people shouldn't want to be associated with. If an organization is afraid of the press, there's usually a damn good reason why: because they have things to hide.'
    Isn't that the description of Journalism and Politics. Hide from the truth.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 6:25am

    The Stuff

    Having attended business school at one point in my life, I don't recall that part of the curriculum.

    If I puffed some of the stuff they were passing around those parties, I wouldn't remember it either. ;)

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    You are so wrong ...

    "the administration at LaSalle should be ashamed of itself. It's not teaching these students journalism at all"

    In a world of corporate controlled big news media. This is exactly what they should be learning. How to suppress stories that do not meet the agenda of the people who run the news organization. They should sit back and print the corporate press releases they are given as news, and realize they are no longer journalists they are parrots. That idealistic urge to actually report the news needs to be beaten down and removed for the good of the powerful few ....

     

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    boomzilla (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 9:42am

    University administration censorship

    The University of Missouri School of Journalism's daily newspaper avoids administration censorship because it is owned by the School of Journalism Alumni Association, actually makes money and is thus insulated from similar situations that arise at other universities. This separation has proved handy, as you may imagine.


    The Columbia Missourian is delivered every morning to the homes of paid subscribers who include residents who are neither students nor affiliated with the university, which is not the case with The Maneater [insert snarky comment here] free campus newspaper, so named for the school's Tiger mascot.

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 1:46am

    Why don't the students start their own independent newspaper / news site?

     

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    Overcast (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    There are times when university newspapers come under pressure from university administrations to suppress certain stories.

    So much for open minds and free thought.

     

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