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AP: Student newspaper at Missouri-Rolla threatens lawsuit over cuts

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Central-KY-Kid, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070215/BREAKING01/70215022

    Student newspaper at Missouri-Rolla threatens lawsuit over cuts

    The Associated Press

    Rolla — The University of Missouri-Rolla’s student newspaper is threatening to sue the school and the University of Missouri system over what staff members say are unfair budget cuts.

    Current and former editors of the weekly Missouri Miner say the reduction of the newspaper’s budget by $12,500 — almost a third of what it will receive from student fees this year — is retaliation for articles critical of the university and for the paper’s sex column.

    Those issues came up in a meeting with Vice Chancellor Debra Robinson and the campus student council, editor in chief Christopher Stryker said.

    “It just became clear that things weren’t going to go in a productive manner,” he said. “Basically, what they wanted was to change our content.”

    The paper had requested $40,000 for its 2007-08 budget, and the Student Activity Fee Board had accepted that amount before presenting its own plan that called for budget cuts.

    The Student Council approved the cuts in November, and curators voted last month to give the newspaper $27,000 in student fees for the next academic year.

    Michele Martin, the former editor in chief, said the possibility of budget cuts first came up during the fall semester, and were prompted by complaints of bias and inaccuracy.

    “Ideally, we’d have no errors in any paper and we’d be perfect,” Martin said. “That doesn’t always happen. That is not a reason to cut a third of our budget.”

    Earlier this week, the newspaper sent an ultimatum to the University of Missouri board of Curators, system president Elson Floyd and Missouri-Rolla administrators demanding that the money cut from the 2007-08 budget be restored. The 80-person staff also demanded a signed agreement that future funding “will be carried out constitutionally.”

    If that demand is not met by 5 p.m. Monday, the staff said, the newspaper will sue.

    University spokesman Andrew Careaga, said the university could not comment directly because of the threat of a lawsuit. However, in a statement issued by the school, Careaga called the newspaper and the student council “important contributors to student life.”

    “The UMR administration recognizes and supports both organizations’ constitutional rights,” the statement read. “Neither the UMR administration nor Student Council has censored the content of the Missouri Miner.”
     
  2. Eagleboy

    Eagleboy Guest

    Good for them. I highly doubt it will go anywhere, but I commend the writers and editors for trying. Budget cuts are a bitch.
     
  3. hate to say it, but I have no sympathy for them

    if you accept money from the school, you've got to play by the school's rules. that's always been the case.

    if you exist independently financially from the university, like many student newspapers, you don't have to worry about this kind of thing. you do, however, have to worry about offending subscribers and advertisers who support you. i think this, more than receiving funding from a student council or activities board, teaches journalistic ethics and responsibility
     
  4. Oz

    Oz Active Member

    I feel for anyone who attends Missouri-Rolla. Hardly my favorite road trip in the MIAA.
     
  5. GravyTrain

    GravyTrain Guest

    I believe ol' UMR left the MIAA for the Great Lakes Conference last year. But yes, Rolla sucks a big one...
     
  6. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    So if the budget cuts are indeed because of critical stories written by the staff, then that's a lesson students need to learn? Cowtow to higher authorities in favor of journalistic integrity? Yes, that's a lesson I want all J-students to learn.
     
  7. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I just read my old college paper is pulling in $40,000 a week. Since staff is unpaid, I'd say that's making money for the university. They should be getting carte blanche but aren't.

    Take it independent. The more student papers that are independent, the better.
     
  8. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    My paper was independent. Yes, we received money and office space from the school, but that was in exchange for ad space. They had no control over content whatsoever, nor did they want that headache -- at least while I was there.
     
  9. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Love to see the reaction of these students when they work for a newspaper down the road, and are told there will be budget cuts. Think they'll march into their ME's office and threaten a lawsuit then?
     
  10. FishHack76

    FishHack76 Active Member

    Agreed about going independent. If they don't want the school to pull crap like this (and I think it is crap), then go independent.
    They should also do what we all want to do sometimes. Kick some advertising reps in the rear and tell them to sell more ads.
     
  11. OTD

    OTD Active Member

    I thought the reference to a sex column was interesting. During my time in the Show-Me state, the word was that there were only about 8 girls who went to Rolla. What's the point of a sex column when you've got to drive up to Columbia for it anyway?
     
  12. Yes, the student newspaper staff should take the paper independent as soon as possible. My college paper did that after (successfully) fighting off censorship issues by everyone from the administration to the student council to the judiciary committee, in short anyone who ever was cast in a negative light by a story.

    In the meantime, the U-M system has a lot of heavy hitters in the journo business. The student staff needs to reach out to them and apply some leverage against the administration. Nothing makes university execs -- basically glorified fundraisers -- back off faster than pissed-off high-roller alumni.
     
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