Student Paper Forced to Go Through Single Campus Source

Student media censorship is a many-speckled beast.  Straight-up rejection of content by misguided overseers is the most iconic, well-known tactic, but it is far from the most common.  The work of most censors is much more subtle, indirect, and clouded enough to enable the content-restricters to claim no wrongdoing at all.

The Chart was sadly recently felled by this subtle censorship.  The student newspaper at Missouri Southern State University was suddenly forced to gather all information on campus through one official: the director of university relations.   As the paper’s editor in chief told the Student Press Law Center for a recent report: “All of a sudden the sources that we rely on are unavailable and we’ve been told to go through the public relations on campus, which I think hurts our credibility because we can’t get information from primary sources anymore.”

The worst part of this Stalinesque attempt at information control is that it is reactionary.  The school’s faculty passed a no-confidence vote against the administration last semester, and more recently the Chart has been seeking private business e-mails sent by the president via a FOIA request.  Again, the paper’s EIC says it best, “I think some people on this campus have the viewpoint that especially with the press this university has had in the past couple months, the less publicity now the better.”

My take: MSSU, it is time to stand up.  Be a model for your students to follow. Bad press sounds like the least of your problems.  Accept criticism.  Allow for freedom of speech and the press.  The school, your students, and the journalism they create, will all be the better for it.

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  1. […] bottom.  For years, the school has operated with little to no respect for its student newspaper.  Among its transgressions: Last spring, MSSU suddenly forced the Chart to gather all information on campus through one […]