In the context of American journalism, I’ve been hailed both the hero and villain.
I am neither.
For the past three years, my life has been one dramatic slip, fall and recovery after another. I’m only 20, but I feel I’ve been in this business for decades. And controversy has repeatedly inspired me to reevaluate my aspirations and come back stronger than I was before.
In the wave of controversy surrounding the now infamous “Fuck Bush” editorial, I’ve begun to lose faith in the industry and the convictions that led me to journalism.
I’ve worked and talked with the best journalists this country has to offer, and I’ve seen some of the worst in action. These experiences and the emotions I associate with them have coalesced into a mixture of anger, depression and helplessness these past few days.
It’s fair to say the Collegian newsroom isn’t as bright as it was two weeks ago. We’ve all learned some harsh lessons and have discovered the inherent flaws of a so-called free press.
It’s a lesson we don’t need to learn more than once and an experience that will forever affect our careers, how we do our jobs and who we are as people.
Would we do it again? I’m sure if you asked any member of my editorial board, you’d hear an unequivocal negative.
The real question, though, is whether or not we regret our decision to run the editorial. Well, the answer is easy: hell no!
The reaction by the CSU administration and some students – and the media circus that ensued — will never overshadow what I witnessed last week and the strange sort of victory we felt as students. At last Wednesday’s meeting (more like a public execution), I saw CSU students doing something scary, something foreign, something this campus needed – standing up and speaking out.
Only a handful of people on this campus know the details of our decision behind the editorial and the stress my staff has felt after its publication. But on Wednesday night, hordes of students, professors and community members made it their fight.
To think that just hours before that meeting I was considering resigning is now laughable. Resigning would have let down hundreds on campus and even more around the world who have sent in their support to the Collegian Editorial Board.
And at the very least, we motivated the College Republicans to stand up for what they thought was right. Now, perhaps, they can get over the F-bomb and focus their attention on something important, like funding for higher education in Colorado or increasing access to CSU for students in underserved schools.
There is little room for apologies and passivity with respect to our freedoms. College students need to know that now more than ever. So, we did the juvenile act of printing the F-word.
But this is not about our freedom to use profanity, which should be unabated in a college publication, but rather about having the courage to speak up when things really matter, even when it’s unpopular.
We do it all the time; it’s our job to question authority, demand answers and provoke thoughtful debate.
Some say we failed in the latter. While our profane editorial is anything but sophisticated, the motives behind it and the behavior of my fellow Rams will, in the end, have more value than any boring opinion piece in The Rocky Mountain News (old white men who don’t know squat about reaching a college-aged audience).
Because of this, I will not resign.
This could be the last time I address CSU as editor in chief. But if the Board of Student Communications has any respect for students’ First Amendment rights and the foundation upon which the Collegian was built, they’ll give me the benefit of the doubt at tonight’s meeting (a private execution).
One supporter sent me a letter that read: “The Collegian has more balls than a Wilson factory.” We’ll take it, but we also have more soul than the codgers who own the media and run this institution.