Daily Collegian Editorial Board Publicly Supports Fired News Adviser

The editorial board of The Daily Collegian at Penn State University has published a statement of support for recently fired news adviser John Harvey.  As I wrote recently, Harvey was let go abruptly earlier this month, leaving many of his past and present j-student charges livid and astonished.

Here’s a portion of the statement:

‘The dual mission of Collegian Inc. is to publish a quality campus newspaper and to provide a rewarding educational experience for the student staff members.’

Given that, it’s awfully tough to justify the abrupt firing of longtime Daily Collegian news adviser John Harvey.

With respect to providing an educational experience for students working at the Collegian, it’s impossible to assert that anyone could do a better job.  He ran the Collegian’s candidate training program — recognized by many as one of the best in the country.

Officially, Harvey’s training program lasted a semester, but all staff members knew that he would continue to provide lessons throughout their Collegian careers.  He made himself extraordinarily accessible to all staffers, always ready to discuss the latest difficult journalistic questions. For the managing editor of content and editor in chief, he was on call at all times.  In terms of publishing a quality newspaper, Harvey was essential to the process.

He followed staffers throughout their careers at the Collegian, so that he could better advise the editor in chief where each person belonged each semester. His intricate knowledge of newsroom positions and personnel, combined with his ability to judge journalistic talent, was an indispensable resource to those students tasked with running the Collegian.

And for Harvey, the job went further. He was the Collegian’s de facto career counselor; in this difficult time for journalism, his willingness to discuss with staff members whether journalism was the proper career choice for them was invaluable.

His ties in the industry helped countless Collegian alumni or staff members land jobs or internships. His loss inflicts real damage on the ability of current staff members to have those same opportunities.

Harvey also inspired a sense of “family” at the Collegian, as evidenced by the incredible outpouring of support for him almost immediately after news of his dismissal.

The backing he inspired, in an ironic twist, has turned to the detriment of the Collegian financially. The Collegian’s Alumni Interest Group (AIG) has suspended all fundraising activities on behalf of the Collegian until, according to an AIG statement, it is, “satisfied that Collegian Inc. is moving in a direction the AIG can support.”

While the cause of the firing hasn’t been made public, it’s clear that the dismissal wasn’t a layoff, and it wasn’t motivated purely by financial winds.  The Board of Editors has seen no planning to transfer the institutional knowledge Harvey carried to another Collegian employee…”

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