Opinion Editor Fired from Student Paper for Her Activism

A student newspaper firing has transformed into a bare-knuckle free-speech slug-fest at Central Connecticut State University, as The Hartford Courant reports.

In one cornerThe Recorder, the CCSU student newspaper, which publicly acknowledged removing its opinion editor from her position when her political activism became too public, undermining her ability to do her job and represent the paper objectively (or at least transparently).

In the other corner: The opinion editor, a CCSU student with socialist leanings and an anti-war-in-Iraq bent who is (loudly) proclaiming that her firing is a censorious attempt to muzzle a student journalist’s outside interests, voice, and beliefs. 

The first punch: According to a letter from the paper’s editorial board, the student “was not fired for her personal beliefs, values, political leanings or otherwise.” The termination, instead, arrived when she made such leanings public.  Under the paper’s ethics code, her fate was sealed in part by her signatures- specifically those she penned on various political petitions and for protests.  

Is the paper’s call the right one? It certainly has merit. There does need to be some distance between a person’s public involvements and their chosen coverage area. The problem is as much the perception of bias as it is the existence of any actual bias that might seep into the paper. As the editorial team’s letter stated, past Recorder staffers have been forced to choose between joining the paper and student government or a campus political club.  The issue, in the end, is always one of relevance- a sports editor who signs a get-out-of-Iraq petition is one thing, an opinion editor who helps shape the political voice of the newspaper signing one and showing up at related protests truly does deserve some raised eyebrows.

Counter-punch: The former editor is currently on a get-back-my-job-free-speech-PR-campaign.  She argues that her political views, not her actions, led to her downfall, making her termination an “attack on the freedom of speech of anyone on this campus who has ever taken a stance against racism, sexism, war, homophobia, religious intolerance, inequality or any other injustice.”

Here’s a short video report from the Courant:

Courant Video

What do you think???

One Response to “Opinion Editor Fired from Student Paper for Her Activism”
  1. She should be fired.

    At a small school like mine, we have to expect folks involved with the paper to be involved with one or two other things as well. If one of those things is political or otherwise compromising, so be it. But if an Opinions or a News Editor on my staff became a vocal member of one of those groups, with a leadership position or something like that, I would not hesitate to begin a discussion about potentially firing the editor in question.