Mar 052009

For the first time in its 109-year history, the Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon’s student newspaper, did not print an issue Thursday to protest recent decisions made by its board of directors that threaten to take away its freedoms as an independent student publication.

In effect, the board threw out an earlier decision to conduct a national search to fill a publisher position they believe will help bring the Emerald out of trying financial times and instead, against the will of current staff, hired a former Emerald editor who came with a hefty $80,000 price tag —- an amount the student newspaper cannot afford right now.

Since the strike started, the publisher-elect has pulled out, but the Board has not agreed to Emerald staff demands that would ensure a national search (as previously agreed upon. The publisher would not control the student editor in any capacity or be a university employee, which would pose a conflict of interest.

This may be taking place 1,300 miles away, but this controversy lands close to home. The Emerald and your dear old Collegian actually have quite a lot in common.

Both are independent, student-run daily newspapers that serve university communities of about the same size and are responsible for upholding high standards of journalistic and ethical integrity while reporting the truth on issues that matter to readers. Both are struggling financially, and the editors of both are currently subordinate to a publisher (in the Collegian’s case, a president), although the publisher/president cannot exercise any form of editorial control over the paper.

As a newly independent publication the Collegian fully supports the demands the Daily Emerald staff is making of its board of directors.

Keep student newspapers independent and free to report. It’s the only way to get pure, unadulterated truth, which is what our democracy is based upon.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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