15 April 2009

From an email I wrote to the CCSU campus community on 4/1/09


I write this in response to the call to stop the alleged threats to free speech occasioned by the removal of Marissa Blaszko from the editorship of the Op-Ed page of the CCSU Recorder.

She was removed from the position by the editorial staff because she refused to distance herself from movements and activities in which she strongly believes. While the fervency of her personal political interest and activity is laudable and should be encouraged, such involvement by editors is in violation of the editorial and ethics policies of the Recorder.

These policies are not, it should be made clear, some idiosyncratic CCSU thing; they are part of the standard operating procedures in the vast majority of newsrooms around the country -- for both professional and student-run newspapers. (For more info, feel free to check out the Student Press Law Center and SPJ: The Society of Professional Journalists.) Nor has Ms. Blaszko been singled out. Several current editors have had to choose between a variety of activities/partisan interests and an editorial position at the Recorder. They chose to sacrifice those other interests/activities.

At a special meeting about the editorial staff’s decision to remove the student from her position, called on 3/19/09 by the Office of Student Activities/Leadership development (SA/LD), during the weekly Recorder Review class that Dr. Vivian Martin holds with the editorial staff of the paper, [art professor] Mike Alewitz argued to the students that, since their actions were against freedom of speech, they would “not stand,” and he informed them, as if they were utterly unaware, that there are “many different types of journalism.”

Indeed, he is correct; there are many different kinds of journalism: from the NY Times, the NB Herald, CNN, and a bevy of very targeted media outlets, to blogging, NPR, The American Spectator, and Mother Jones. And no one is disputing such variety….nor the richness derived there from.

The controversial non-controversy here, however, is that Professor Alewitz doesn’t seem to like the type of journalism that the Recorder staff, under its duly ratified and reviewed by-laws and ethics policy, has chosen to guide their paper.

Please be clear: by this decision no one is silencing the views of the now former editor. Ms. Blaszko is free to continue to write for the Recorder. She, however, could not remain as editor and continue her important work, and important work it is, as an activist.

The decision was never about what she had to say but rather about the propriety of her public and very partisan declarations/actions while serving as an editor of the Recorder.

There’s no smoke here, much less fire...no matter how hard some may try to fan non-existent flames.

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