© Eli Justin Bortz

Survey of Electronic Publishing, Spring 2003.

Contact me at elibortz@ufl.edu

Challenges Facing College Newspapers

Cases and Studies:  Examining the Problem

Censorship Issues In College Newspapers

Online Concerns Among College Newspapers

Development of College Newspapers

Works Cited in this Study


The Subtle Pressure of University Employment: Why Newspapers Feel The Pain

Newspapers that are officially associated with colleges and universities will never usually experience blatant censorship of their pages by the administration, but occasionally a different kind of pressure will be applied: the dismissal of the newspaper adviser. Amanda Lehmert examined the phenomena of adviser removal:

"Ousting an ambitious adviser in favor of someone who may be easier to manipulate is certainly one way administrators can control the content of a newspaper. Under the cover of private personnel issues, reassigning an adviser allows administrators to keep bad news out of student publications without the public relations nightmare of censoring the paper outright. The wave of advisers dismissed in the past few months seems to suggest it is a growing trend in education." Advisers removed, 2-3

The solutions to this problem are quite different, but probably equally effective. One suggestion is for the adviser to seek outside legal advice and support. As Lehmert explains:

"Journalism organizations are more likely sources for support. Groups such as [Society of Professional Journalists], [Student Press Law Center], and [College Media Advisers'] are willing to give advice and sometimes legal assistance to advisers who are removed from their positions." Advisers removed, 5

Lehmert also suggests getting the student staffers involved in the campaign to save the adviser, and use the access the student newspaper can provide to strengthen the position. A more radical answer to many censorship questions is to take the newspaper down the Independence path, which presents some unique possibilities. The Independent Florida Alligator now serves the University of Florida and surrounding Gainesville community, yet is no longer officially linked to the university itself. As the Alligator website explains:

"In 1971 and '72, the editors of the Alligator were involved in an extremely serious free-press disagreement with the administration of the University of Florida. After a great deal of controversy and exhaustive study, Florida's Board of Regents and the Florida Cabinet approved the purchase of The Alligator from the University of Florida by the student-controlled corporation, Campus Communications, Inc. CCI was created for the purpose of that purchase, and the subsequent responsibilities. The ownership began in February, 1973, with the purchase completed in 1976. In this manner The Alligator became one of the first fully-independent college newspapers in the nation." Independence

Read the full statement and explore the Independent Florida Alligator's webpages: http://www.alligator.org/advert/service/indepdence.html

Visit the Student Press Law Center's website: http://www.splc.org

Visit the Society of Professional Journalists website: http://www.spj.org

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