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Managing Editor's Note: Walkout at 'The Red and Black' was necessary
Editorial independence is a hard-won battle.
And as student journalists, it's something we take very seriously.
That value wasn't recognized — or simply wasn't acknowledged — in one newsroom recently.
So the student leaders at The Red and Black, the formerly independent student-run newspaper at the University of Georgia, made a gutsy move. They walked out.
Because the recently appointed editorial director, formerly a source of guidance and post-publication critiquing only, was given control of content, and he isn’t a student.
Because the recently hired multimedia director, creative director, business manager, and marketing and product managers aren’t students.
Because student editors started receiving directives — from people who weren’t students — telling them what to cover and how, what photos to take and how. Because they were told mistakes were no longer allowed to be used as learning experiences.
It was a student-run newspaper, but control was taken from the students.
That’s not OK.
Every student journalist who has poured years of his or her health, grades, social life and sanity into a student-run newspaper understands what was given up by the editors, reporters, designers and photographers who left their jobs at that paper Wednesday.
Journalism experience. Camaraderie. A steppingstone to the next internship or job.
Because we understand, we now have a tie to those at the Athens, Georgia university that goes deeper than beating them out for our top-party-school ranking.
We weren’t in that newsroom, and we weren’t in on the discussions and events that caused those students to walk out on their positions at The Red and Black.
But it’s safe to say that events prompting so many student journalists to feel they no longer can effectively perform their jobs deserve a long, hard look.
The actions of these University of Georgia students provided a much-needed reminder. Because this isn’t just about The Red and Black, and it’s not just about students. Prior review, censorship — anything that smacks of reporting that is anything other than independent should make any journalist uncomfortable.
The Post's editorial board stands with the former student staff members of The Red and Black. I only hope that if we were to lose final say on our content, we'd have the courage to stand up as they did.
Rebecca McKinsey is managing editor of The Post. Do you have an opinion on the happenings at The Red and Black? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.