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Va. Tech threatens to pull funding from student paper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Cosmo, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Over concerns about anonymous comments:

  2. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    I don't like this saber-rattling, but there's an easy compromise here.

    Shut down the comments section. That's not an issue of freedom of the press; you're just removing the outlet from people who can always go pollute . . .errr . . .visit the school's rivals site or something.
  3. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    Isn't it illegal to pull funding over free speech?
  4. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    The issue is slightly less clear-cut if a school is supporting the paper, though I think a couple of Supreme Court cases still err on the paper's side.

    A lot of college papers fund themselves through advertising or whatever precisely to avoid this BS.

    I can say absolutely nothing about online anonymous comments without devolving into frothing with hatred and bemoanment of our society. The school is wrong. I just...I hate those fucking things. I hate them so much. I hate what they've done to newspaper Web sites. I hate...phah. The school is still wrong.
  5. bl67550

    bl67550 Member

    There is an extremely simple solution to this issue...don't allow anonymous comments on the paper's website. A school's student newspaper is representative of the school, be it an independent entity or not. I imagine VaTech officials came to the newspaper and asked them to ban anonymous comments for the sake of the school's image, and being denied, pushed ahead with this threat.
    If they did NOT has a civil discussion about this beforehand, then the school is in the wrong and should have approached this issue more diplomatically, but I seriously doubt this is the way it went down.
    People are allowed too open a forum through boards like the one available on this paper's website, and the things which they are allowed to post are better left in their own sick heads, it's not the paper's fault, it's not the school's fault, but I applaud VaTech for attempting to shut down hatemongers and maintain a high standard throughout all their offices.
    There are too many truly independent forums for morons to mouth off about nonsense, they don't need leave to do it in this setting.
  6. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

  7. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    No "Huh?" about it. The student newspaper, if it is housed in an on-campus building and staffed by students, is ultimately a student group. One that gets to trumpet its "Mission!" and "Editorial Independence!!!" but an on-campus student group. To an outsider, the campus newspaper supposedly represents the mood of the campus, even though it really doesn't.

    In the "real world," aren't local media perceived as the voice of the community? The perception that the campus paper is representative of the school isn't as far off as you might think.
  8. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    just kill the comments section or make those who comment more accountable by forcing them to submit a confirmed e-mail address.
  9. That's a practice we all should embrace.
  10. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    Amen. Va. Tech is going about this in a pretty ham-handed fashion, but they have the right idea. I have never understood why we as news organizations allow these kinds of comments on our websites. At my paper, we're required to get all of our superiors to sign off before they'll let us use anonymous sources in a story (and very rare it is that they do so), we require all letters to the editor to be signed and submitted with a phone number for verification, and yet we allow virtually anybody to post all manner of defamatory comments with very little accountability on the paper's most visible medium. To me, freedom of speech is not absolute; it comes with responsibilities and too many news outlets forget that when it comes to the Internet.
  11. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Even community college newspapers sometimes do something similar.

    When I was at my old community college, half the paper's financial support came from advertising; the other half came from student activity fees. Those were appropriated by something called the Student Affairs Finance Board. I was vice chairman of that board one semester because I was also president of the student government.

    At the college, we bent over backward to ensure that there was no interference from the "powers that be" who could interfere. The closest they ever came to "getting involved" was when the paper that hit the newsstands LOOKED disastrous from a design and editorial standpoint (in other words, horrible graphics, spelling errors, the like). And then, it was "do you guys need new computers?"

    At Maryland, The Diamondback is run by a separate business entity known as Maryland Media, which also runs The Eclipse (traditionally black monthly), The Mitzpeh (Jewish student monthly) and the yearbook.

    As for the comments, I was adamant against allowing online comments at my old shop. I fought tooth and nail against allowing them.

    If I were going to allow comments at all, I'd require people to register using their real name AND I'd insist on the comments being moderated before submission.
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The administration is not allowed to interfere in the editorial content of the paper. That includes pulling funding. Expect a court case if this doesn't get resolved.
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