Student staff members of the University of Georgia’s newspaper, Red and Black, resigned recently following a decision by the administrative board to hire 10 full-time non-student staff members to edit and censor the publication.
Former student editor Polina Marinova released a statement on Facebook and Twitter explaining the reasons behind the walkout and defended the students’ protest against administrative censorship. Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, recent University of GA graduate Andria Krewson explained that "the biggest threat to the students was the elevation of a professional editorial adviser to editorial ‘director,’ with the mission to edit and advise the students and approve content before publication." The changes were conveyed to Marinova, who had spent the summer interning at CNN, as a fait accompli, and the paper’s editorial director shared with her a poorly written draft memo from the consultant.
In the last two years, the student paper has shifted to online publication in order to communicate with “a generation which grew up with computers, cell phones and iPods” and currently only produces one print edition each week.
Krewson smartly sums up: "Perhaps the broader lessons going forward: Those who treasure the institutions that educated generations of journalists cannot let old structures ossify. More than 30 years ago, many of us felt we had solved the problems of independence for student voices when The Red and Black became independent of the university. Clearly, it’s a battle that needs to be fought time and again. We’ve been discussing it on an alumni Facebook group that grew from 165 members to more than 350 in three days, with concrete steps planned soon as well as watchful eyes. The whole thing is far from over."