BG News resists censorship PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 10:07
A BG News paper box sits along Ridge Street near campus. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green State University's independent school newspaper, the BG News, has found itself at the center of the biggest story on campus.
At its meeting last week, the Undergraduate Student Government considered a resolution calling for more oversight of the student-run publication, including the election of the editor, now appointed by a board of faculty, students and media professionals.
The resolution was prompted by complaints from campus groups, most of them Greek organizations, about their treatment in the pages of the newspaper. That included a recent headline calling attention to the annual Dance Marathon falling short of its goal as well as claims of being misquoted and inaccuracies in stories.
The resolution was tabled, but USG President Brian Kochheiser said the issue will be revisited, though any resolution "likely will not look the same."
He said in taking up the matter the USG was simply being responsive to its constituency. "Many students are frustrated with the BG News."
The resolution states: "(T)he BG News needs to be evaluated through a system of checks and balances, because they are not currently held accountable by the Undergraduate Student Body."
If further says "Administrational action must be taken" if changes do not occur.
"We were surprised when we heard about the resolution," said Danae King, the BG News editor. The USG leadership did not reach out to the staff before discussing the complaints. "That would have been more productive than a resolution where we weren't contacted."
The provisions of the resolution amount to censorship, an editorial published in Thursday's edition asserted. "What USG calls for would diminish our role to being nothing more than University propaganda, completely ignoring larger issues that impact students because they may make someone look bad."
King said most of the issues discussed have had to do with miscommunication. In one case, a sorority president called to complain that she hadn't been interviewed for a story, and then contended those who were had been misquoted. King said the newspaper had not heard from those sources asking for corrections.
While the resolution also cites the Athletic Department, which the News said asked to be removed from the resolution, and the Black Student Union, King said the staff has not been contacted about problems.
Those dissatisfied can call to have corrections run, and the newspaper publishes letters to the editor.
Thursday's edition included letters supporting the resolution, as well as backing the newspaper's position. Guest columns on both sides of the issue were also published.
King conceded the student publication does make mistakes. That's the nature of working daily to provide news through the print edition, web site and social media.
"I just want people to know we recognize these concerns," she said, and the staff is working to address them with copy editing workshops and trying to publicize its corrections and letters to the editor policy.
"We don't want to control or censor," Kochheiser claimed.  He said that the "student body wants to see accurate and fair reporting."
"The senate is gauging feedback," he said, before deciding whether to resurrect the resolution in some form in the fall. "It may be tabled forever."
What the resolution did do, Kochheiser said, was "start a conversation that needed to happen... That is ultimately good."
"We want to hear what they have to say," King said.  
University spokesman David Kielmeyer issued a statement on the situation: "(T)he University will take no action that interferes with the independence of the BG News and the publication's First Amendment rights, just as we will not interfere with or restrict the operation or rights of the Undergraduate Student Government or its members."
The statement continues: "The opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of journalism and news writing by working at a student publication is an important part of our journalism curriculum. Likewise, participation in USG provides leadership development opportunities and practical experience in collaborative governance. Both experiences are integral to the University's educational mission."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 11:31

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