The Kids are Alright. Now It’s Time to Tell Stories That Matter

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:

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.

Mark E. Johnson

1 Response

  1. I am almost in awe to how fast that walkout blew up. I ended up leaving the Red & Black, following my editors after I got all the facts. I was in the building as my editorial staff walked. I talked with them and looked at the inter-office memo. Then I spoke with Ed Stamper and Harry Montevideo for over an hour. Then I went back to the Red and Dead. After going over all the facts and kind of being up [—-] creek, losing my whole editorial staff, I felt that they were in the right. Since then, I’ve been interviewing and reporting — without a publication — for stories I was going to submit to the Red and Black. They could go to Red and Dead. No matter what. Stories need to be told. News doesn’t stop. And voices need to be heard. We’ll see what happens by Monday. Should be interesting.

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