Our short campus nightmare is over.
Two days ago, the majority of the editorial leaders of The Red and Black, the independent student newspaper that covers the University of Georgia, took an ethical stand against prior restraint from the board of directors and some serious lapses in judgement by one member of the board.
Today, it appears, the students have won. The board member in question, Ed Stamper, has resigned. The editorial advisor has used the phrase, “No prior review.”
Several of the editors and staff have been in touch with me over the last few days, even prior to the walkout, about their concerns. Ethically, I believe they had the high ground. I did tell them I questioned their decision to walk out, that by doing so they may have abdicated the high ground and they did leave the campus uncovered.
This is a complex story to parse in the moment. There were a lot of people, around the world, who chimed in on this and not all of them had a full picture, leading to some really inane comments being posted. The miscommunication surrounding this story should stand as a lesson to not just our journalism students but to all journalists everywhere – don’t publish anything until you know it to be accurate, true and fair.
Some links to catch up:
- The Student Press Law Center had several excellent articles about this. That link is outdated, but check the site for a new story soon.
- The former R&B students created both a very active Twitter stream (active enough to get it shut down) and a new web site where, after reporting what had happened and what was happening, they went back to being journalists.
- The New York Times picked up the story.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up the story.
- The Huffington Post picked up the story.
- The Poynter Institute picked up the story, which meant every journalist in America pretty much knew about it.
There are a lot of folks who are happy this is over, but there are some who have been deeply hurt by accusations, misinformation and mocking. It will take time for those wounds to heal, but they will.
JOURNALISM won today. Ethical journalism.
Now, to all those students who took a stand: Go tell stories that matter.