An attack on student journalism

Student journalists at the University of Georgia were inappropriately led.

Daily Editorial Board

Student staff at the Red and Black — the University of Georgia’s newspaper — walked out before print last month because the paper’s editorial independence was compromised. According to an editorial written by then-Editor in Chief Polina Marinova, “For years, student [staff members] have had final approval of the paper followed by a critique by the adviser only after articles were published. However, from now on, that will not be the case.” The Red and Black’s board of directors hired a nonstudent editorial director who oversaw all content online and in print. Marinova wrote that editors “felt pressure to assign stories they didn’t agree with, take ‘grip and grin’ photos and compromise the design of the paper.”

A memo was then released detailing the authority placed over students of the college newspaper. The memo, which former staff members from the newspaper posted online, suggests a mix of “good and bad” stories and that, when in doubt, content should “have more good than bad.” It defined good as “content our readers have asked for” and bad as “content that catches organizations doing bad things. I guess you could call this journalism.”

Clearly the leadership over student staff at the Red and Black made a serious lapse in judgment. Student newspapers across the country, the Minnesota Daily included, are a vital resource for students to provide their perspective on relevant issues — a viewpoint that has historically been overlooked or met with disdain. College newspapers are independent from their university so that they can investigate the institution and hold administrators accountable. We hope that the Red and Black will once again be a haven for student journalism free from outside editorial control and influence.