Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In support of the Emerald

Edited to add that the description of the Oregon Daily Emerald publisher job does say the publisher would not have control over content. The entire description, including the following paragraph, was posted on Steve Smith's blog.

“The publisher is responsible for all hiring within the company with the exception of the editor, who is appointed by the board, and the newsroom staff hired by the editor. In areas of business management, the editor reports to the publisher. However, the publisher does not have and cannot exercise any supervisory control or authority over the editorial content of the Daily Emerald newspaper and its related online and mobile sites.”

I've read several articles and posts on this today, and I still feel the staff is right to question the board's actions in this situation and to take the steps they have taken. I had not read the job description (the full description is posted way down in the comments on Smith's blog) before I made my initial post here. I do not believe Smith would be a bad choice for the publisher position (he has since withdrawn his name and the board will be conducting a search), and I am sure the work he has done to try to help the Emerald is appreciated. However, the staff's demands (outlined in the Emerald article linked below and in other sources I've linked to) are reasonable. They are right to be concerned.

The editorial staff at the Oregon Daily Emerald, the independent student paper at the University of Oregon, is on strike.

The Emerald has been completely independent since 1971. It is a contracted service and the only funding from the University comes from a small "subscription fee" that comes out of the overall student incidental fee. As someone who worked for a term as the higher education reporter, I know how necessary it is to ensure that no member of the faculty or staff have control over decisions at the paper. In order to provide the most truthful, objective reporting on the University administration, the paper must remain independent.

The Emerald is keeping a blog to update people on what's going on there. I'm fully in support of what the editors and staff are asking. If the demands are not met today (March 4), the Thursday edition of the Emerald will not be printed. It will be the first time in the paper's 109-year-history that an issue was not printed. I'm afraid for the future of the paper, but I'm proud of the staff for sticking up for the paper's legacy. If I were still a student, I'd be right there with them.

Romenesko post on the strike here
Chronicle of Higher Education article
Oregonian article

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