[AEJMC Newspaper and Online News Division list] Newspaper adviser fired for questionable-taste photo

Bob Britten Bob.Britten at mail.wvu.edu
Thu Jan 5 13:26:13 CST 2012

Agreed with the above thoughts. The great thing about student-run media is how it allows young adults to explore the power of free speech, which includes the occasional step (or leap) over the line that they'd get canned for in the real world but can learn from here. The less-great thing is that sometimes students take Hustler v. Falwell to mean that it's their job to be Larry Flynt. Either way, it'd be nice for more people to recognize the advisor is often a hapless cat wrangler.

Although I'm not offended by the pic, I'm amazed there's not some bare-bones "No cussin', no nudity" policy to avoid the "but I really want to" argument you're going to get from the newly empowered. On the other hand, there's a huge range of student media out there, from serious journalistic dailies to campus chatter tabloids, so I suppose the standards would reflect the particular publication. Regardless, I think it's the kind of thing that deserves a smack to the back of the head rather than a public execution.


>>>  01/05/12 2:13 PM >>>
p { margin: 0; }My heart goes out to the adviser. I had that kind of advising job for a while as one of my first academic positions at a small college.
It's a terrible job. You can advise students. But ultimately they have to make their own decisions. And their own mistakes.
And when they do make mistakes, which is inevitable, everyone blames the adviser.
But sometimes the greatest lessons are learned by students making mistakes, printing something in bad taste, for instance, and then getting all the grief.
When I was adviser I was tempted to edit and take things out in advance.
I wanted to edit as I looked over the shoulders of the students. I could see the train wrecks coming in slow motion, way in advance.
But of course, that was not my job. My job was to critique afterwords. Students learn a lot by learning to edit themselves.
We give the students the best coaching we can. We teach and preach all the principles.
But ultimately it is up to them to apply them. 
And no matter how many lessons you teach in advance your teenage son or daughter is going to have to drive the car alone and be responsible for the inevitable dings and crashes.
We need to educate people that school newspapers are teaching vehicles. And sometimes such vehicles are going to go off course and be offensive.
And the student editors learn a tremendous amount from the feedback their mistakes generate.
I teach my students that journalism is supposed to hold a mirror up to society. Sometimes that mirror holds some ugly truths.
Personally I don't find the naked pix objectionable. 
This was certainly a newsworthy event. It happened and needed to be reported. And the pictures clearly tell the story, way better than words alone.
If I were editor I might do some photoshop work and cover the naked bits with clearly marked blank spots - and tell the readers you were doing that and why.
The streaker was certainly a lot less offensive than the Page 3 girl in London - every day a cheese cake model in the all together, in some simulated sexy position.
None of us know enough of the story yet to make a clear judgment. But let's keep a kind thought for the tough and thankless job of the adviser.
That job is the equivalent of signing up to be a crash car dummy - no way to avoid the inevitable collision. 
I just pray each night and thank the lord I no longer have to do it. I am glad someone is doing that essential job. And I really feel their pain.
I hope we as a group can express our support for this adviser who is probably feeling sorely wounded and all alone right about now.

With best wishes, Dr. Brian Thornton, University of N. Florida.

From: "Kathryn Sarah Quigley" 
To: "Tracy Everbach" 
Cc: news-list at aejmc.net
Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:08:07 PM
Subject: Re: [AEJMC Newspaper and Online News Division list] Newspaper adviser        fired for questionable-taste photo

I agree with you, Tracy. You and I wouldn't have run the photos - but then, we've been in journalism a while and have some sense. The students have to make their own mistakes.
And you are probably right that the previous column AND the naked pix are what sunk the adviser.
Still, going after him is so petty. I hope someone starts a fund for him. I'd contribute. At least to buy him a bottle of Scotch.

Kathryn Quigley
KSQWRITE at aol.com

Associate Professor of Journalism
Rowan University
quigleyk at Rowan.edu

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

On Jan 5, 2012, at 10:18 AM, "Everbach, Tracy"  wrote:

> I agree that it is wrong to fire the adviser over this. Still, did we need the full-frontal photo? The message could have been accomplished without publishing that one.
> Also, did you read that column from the previous semester about birth control, or whatever it was supposed to be about? If my students had published something like that when I was a media adviser I would ream them out so badly that they would never consider publishing anything remotely like that again. Sounds to me like these students thought they were publishing some kind of poor-quality alt-weekly meant to shock instead of a college newspaper Someone needed to reel them in. The adviser was not doing his job if they thought publishing that kind of crap was OK. Students have a social responsibility, just like the rest of the press.
> Tracy Everbach, Ph.D.
> Associate professor
> 214-995-8464-cell
> Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism
> University of North Texas
> 1155 Union Circle #311460
> Denton, TX  76203-5017
> ________________________________________
> From: news-list-bounces at aejmc.net [news-list-bounces at aejmc.net] on behalf of JOHN B ZIBLUK [JZIBLUK at astate.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 8:16 AM
> To: news-list at aejmc.net
> Subject: [AEJMC Newspaper and Online News Division list] Newspaper adviser      fired for questionable-taste photo
> This should be a concern to everybody on a lot of levels.
> http://www.splc.org/news/newsflash.asp?id=2311
> Jim Romenesko posted the offendng photos:
> http://jimromenesko.com/
> John B. (Jack) Zibluk, Ph.D.
> Professor
> Arkansas State University
> Department of Journalism
> P.O. Box 1930
> State University, AR 72467
> (H) 870-931-1284
> (W) 870-972-3255
> (cell) 870-219-3328
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