Student media should be delivered without compromise

Student media made a stand on Aug. 15.

The top editors at The Red and Black, the independent student newspaper at the University of Georgia, resigned after they felt their editorial decisions were being compromised.

The culmination of tension that began in April and continued through the summer burst when a member of the board of directors wrote a draft memo regarding the news the paper should cover.

Polina Marinova, editor-in-chief, wrote in a statement, explaining that she resigned because she “took great offense” to the content of the memo regarding good and bad news.

The memo described bad content as “content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism.’ If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.”

This memo, in addition to the board adding 10 non-students with veto power over content and promoting the editorial adviser to the position of editorial director, the staff had enough.

We commend the editors of The Red and Black for standing up for what all student media should strive for: delivering readers with content and learning along the way.

We speak for the entire The Daily Illini staff when we say that we take great pride in creating, editing and approving all of our content, design and photos before providing it to our readers. We certainly could not do what we do if we didn’t have our professional staff’s full trust in our ability to produce the news. Without that control, collegiate newspapers fail in their purpose.

It’s no secret that newspapers are struggling, whether they be professionally or student-run. However, no matter the financial situation, content should never be compromised.

Every newspaper and media outlet is meant to serve their specific community. Money aside, that is our job and mission as journalists — students or professionals. And if the students are being instructed to do things a certain way, the newspaper will never be what is right for its audience. As students serving students, our news judgement — as well as our development of that judgement — is more valuable than what a professional staff could provide the University.

Sure, we make mistakes. But that is one of the great forms of learning. Our mistakes are corrected, and it’s better to have a small factual error than to hide some of the “bad” news, which doesn’t provide the transparency our readers deserve.

The editorial staff of The Red and Black proved that students always have a voice.

Fortunately, seven days ago, the board and former editors came to a resolution, agreeing that student journalism is training for the real world and The Red and Black board lost sight of that.

Every editor has been reinstated to their old positions and now can get back to what they always should be doing: making their own decisions and serving their campus and the Athens, Ga., community.