Student Newspaper Stops Publishing to Fight Censorship

Call it The Showdown at Cedarville U.  The two sides in collegemediatopia’s latest free press fight, according to a news report:  “classic journalism” versus “biblical truth.”  

The Cedars student newspaper at Cedarville University in Ohio will no longer publish, in protest of an administrative control that editors say has gone from over-zealous to downright censorious.  In a letter to the campus community, the eds. write: “The public relations department, directed by university trustees and some administrative officials, now reviews, approves, censors and cuts the content of your student newspaper.  We grieve the loss of free expression and healthy discourse once found in your newspaper, traits that ought to characterize all vibrant institutions of higher learning.”

The paper apparently has been veering from the private Christian school’s religious mission, according to a uni spokesman, who states: “There were problems with articles that did not necessarily reflect biblical truth, what the Bible has to say about an issue.”  (Oh, dear Lord.)

Church, meet state.  Private school, meet free press.  Yes, in both cases, the two can and do co-exist.  Just not in Cedarville, Ohio, apparently.

This spiritual-editorial fight came to a head with administrative admonitions that the final issue of the semester should not feature any content “that would be a distraction to the trustees.”  (Which means what exactly- no sex, violence or Sudoku??)  Instead of fighting the battle from the inside, the paper and staff are taking the you’ll-miss-us-when-we’re-gone approach.  The paper’s adviser has quit and Cedars will cease publication.  It’s a risky move- one that worked most recently for The Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon, of course a much more high-profile student newspaper.

No matter the outcome, the cause is undoubtedly disgusting.  Cedarville administrators should have taken a look at the biblical maxims they hold so dear before deciding it was within their purview to review and censor students’ work: Judge not lest ye be judged.

One Response to “Student Newspaper Stops Publishing to Fight Censorship”
  1. Jim Loving says:

    Student journalists at private universities (particularly Christian ones) have a tough row to hoe.
    I know because I formally taught at several Christian colleges.
    Part of the problem is that administrators simply don’t understand journalism. In fact, most cannot distinguish between PR and journalism.
    However, I would argue that student journalists do face a more realistic setting at private institutions because all media (except NPR) beyond college walls are privately owned. Journalists at public universities, which are tax funded, actually perform in an “unnatural” setting where they have been given nearly unfettered free press liberties – something students will never encounter in the “real” world.
    Nevertheless, private institutions that offer journalism programs seem disingenuous when they trample on free expression rights. Part of the problem is that private institutions (particularly Christian ones) define what truth is and is not – usually by invoking god. After all, who can argue with that?