Media Adviser’s Removal at Morgan State Criticized as Censorship

According to a College Media Advisers investigation, the firing of the student media adviser at Morgan State University appears to be linked to editorials and stories published in the campus newspaper this past spring that criticized the Morgan State administration.

In an excellent investigation into the incident on behalf of CMA, Chris Evans, media adviser at the University of Vermont, reported: “It seems that Morgan State officials are seeking to hold the adviser responsible for students’ writing and actions— both of which are protected by the First Amendment from interference by the adviser or other school officials.”  (Evans has also compiled a great listing of links pertaining to media coverage of the incident.)  The Spokesman, Morgan State’s student newspaper, is also citing a connection between the paper’s content and Brown’s forced exit in a story on its Web site.

School spokespeople are claiming Brown’s removal was a personnel, not editorial, decision.  One Morgan State rep told the Baltimore Sun that Brown was “more or less out of control” in respect to spending and oversight of the newspaper and yearbook.  Admins have since appointed an adviser with no journalism experience and way-too-close ties to administrators and not yet renewed the contracts of students working on the university yearbook, many of whom have been vocally supportive of Brown.

My take: This is the most disturbing form of censorship.  Think about it.  If Brown is generally innocent of the admin’s charges, the school is acting incredibly shadily, pretending censorship is not ocurring and sullying Brown’s name in public.  My advice to Morgan State admins: Man up. If she truly was out of control with spending, release all related financial records.  If she truly was insubordinate, cite SPECIFIC examples with multiple, on-the-record sources and related documents as evidence (e-mails, etc.).  SHOW us she needed to be fired.  Do not tell us.  Bceause as it stands, in the eyes of the CMA and your own journalism students, the removal of Brown is a censorious black eye on the school’s record of respecting free speech and the student press.

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