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
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.