Saturday, November 17, 2007

Waterbury Paper Stays On Top Of QU Free Speech Chill

Free Speech Advocates
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Supporting Editor Jay Braff

Administration Takes Over Paper As House Organ

Editor gets support of students
Nothing resolved in newspaper flap at Quinnipiac


HAMDEN — Editors at Quinnipiac University’s student-run newspaper will stand behind their leader regardless if he is fired, students said Friday.

On Nov. 2, Jason Braff, editor of the Quinnipiac Chronicle, was told in a letter from Dean of Students Manuel C. Carreiro that he may “need to reconsider” his position at the paper if he continues to speak publicly against university policy.

Kendra Butters, editor of the paper’s Lifestyle section said the paper’s staff wants to do what is best for Braff and the paper. “We will take some kind of action because we’re not just going to let this stand by.”

Carreiro wrote to Braff four days after Braff spoke with the Republican-American for an Oct. 30 article on student free speech issues across the state. In the article, Braff said the school’s policy to not allow the student newspaper to post articles on its Web site before the paper goes to print was “ridiculous.”

Braff, who receives an $8,000 stipend as editor, was scheduled to meet with Carreiro and other administration officials Thursday, but the meeting was rescheduled until after the school’s Thanksgiving break.

John Morgan, spokesman for Quinnipiac, declined to comment on the meeting.

Butters, 20, said that the paper’s staff convened an emer­gency meeting Wednesday to discuss possible scenarios if Braff was fired.

“We would obviously print an article about it, but we want to do something in addition to that to get the word out to everyone,” she said.

Journalism professor Sean Lyons said he does not understand why school officials would want to talk to Braff about his position.

“They’re paying him to be a journalist, and you know what, that’s what they got,” Lyons said. “If they don’t like that they might have to rethink then what the heck they are doing with a student paper in the first place.”

Some students have taken to the Web with their support of Braff. As of Friday afternoon, more than 330 students had joined a group on the social-networking Web site Facebook titled “Support Jay Braff and the Chronicle.”

Erin Miller, features edi­tor for the Chronicle, said that while she supports Braff, she is most upset about the school’s interview policy and fears the Chronicle will become a “public relations pamphlet.”

“We have to go through the Public Relations office any time we want to interview mostly anyone. We have to e­mail questions in,” Miller, 20, said. “As a student, it is very disheartening when you learn these interview techniques and you have to do it via e-mail, something we are taught not to do.”

Morgan said the university has “no plans to change the media policy at this time.”

In a policy memo sent to faculty and administrators on Oct. 18, Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, wrote that “no media outlet is to be contacted or responded to without prior consent by John Morgan or Lynn Bushnell.”

Margarita Diaz, the paper’s faculty adviser and a journalism professor, said many students across campus are unaware that Braff might be fired for speaking.

“The newspaper cannot publish anything about the university’s threat to fire Ja­son because the newspaper fears that would constitute a violation of this policy, which the university changes nearly every week,” Diaz said.

Lyons complained that his students have not been able to complete homework assignments because administrators decline to comment, citing the media policy.

“I can’t teach them how it really operates if people they are seeking comment from won’t talk to them. They could write a one­sided story, but that’s not fair to students and university,” Lyons said. “As of now, I don’t have much to teach my students because I can’t teach my students.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For cripes sake, Lyons, that IS how it really works. Sources dig trenches and stonewall reporters in real life. Sometimes they do it so much it becomes the biggest news in the story. The reporters write about it. They say in the story that they could get no comment or confirmation. They say in the story that that the press office instituted a draconian policy requiring them to submit questions by email. They write in their stories that officials continue to fail to answer questions, that so and so says comnunity increasingly agitated by need for answers etc. That can't confirm routine info, or whatever it is. That is the news right now at QU - that there is a news blackout.