Student Newspaper Calls Out College for ‘Stonewalling’ About Arizona Shooter, Other Issues

A student newspaper at an Arizona community college is criticizing administrators for keeping “a tight noose around release of information,” including remaining silent about the school’s connection to infamous shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

In a recent editorial, The Aztec Press described a “misguided and counterproductive” culture of secrecy at Tucson’s Pima Community College.  In the newspaper’s view, PCC’s free press and free speech violations run long.

As the piece charges, “When a media outlet, including the Aztec Press, requests an interview or even a comment from any college employee, PCC’s marketing department insists on first granting ‘permission.’ Further, the marketing department consistently requests a list of advance questions.  More often than not, a marketing department spokesperson answers the questions via e-mail instead of allowing a reply from the appropriate source. . . . In the rare case when a face-to-face interview is approved, a public relations person sits in.  That can intimidate both the reporter and the interviewee.

Apparently, the noose has been pulled so tight by officials that PCC faculty and staff decline to speak about even non-sensitive topics.  According to the Press, “They’ve been cowed by pressure from the top.”

Additionally, while maintaining an in-house PR team, the school has been outsourcing some of its “marketing and advertising services” to a firm “which has gained notoriety for refusing interview requests.”

The editorial follows public charges of stonewalling by other news media, specifically PCC’s recent refusal to discuss Loughner’s allegedly noticeable mental health issues and campus security run-ins while a student at the school.

As reporters for local television news outlet KGUN9 shared, “9 On Your Side has been trying to ask questions about how the college responded to Jared Lee Loughner’s documented outbursts and frightening behavior on campus, and about what programs, if any, the college has in place for handling students with mental health issues.  The college refused KGUN9′s interview requests, declined to answer a written list of questions, and ejected a KGUN9 News crew from the public building housing the college’s administrative offices.”

As the Press reports, “Loughner was enrolled at PCC until he was suspended in September 2010.  He had multiple run-ins with campus police and faculty during 2010, and PCC police officers requested backup when they delivered a formal suspension letter to Loughner’s residence on Sept. 29.  The letter informed Loughner that he would not be allowed back on campus without a cleared mental-health examination. . . . College officials suspended Loughner after they discovered he had posted a bizarre YouTube video claiming he was at war with the college and that students were being tortured.”

In an interview with KGUN9, the Press news editor said the stonewalling was in place long before the Loughner saga started.  “We’ve been having problems in the past getting statements from the chancellor and getting statements from the PR firm,” she said, “but we decided for this issue to run an editorial, just letting the students and faculty members know that we are going to cover this regardless of what’s going on.”

The university’s response to the editorial: No comment.  Amusingly, when contacted by KGUN9, the university’s response to its no comment was also no comment.

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  1. [...] Read the rest of this post at College Media Matters… FOLLOW HUFFPOST COLLEGE ON Facebook: Like 2K jQuery('#fb_like_bnpage').mouseenter(function() { var html = 'Follow us on FacebookGet updates from HuffPost posted directly to your News Feed.'; var coords = [-5, -72]; // display fb-bubble FloatingPrompt.embed(this, html, undefined, 'top', {fp_intersects:1, timeout_remove:2000,ignore_arrow: true, width:236, add_xy:coords, class_name: 'clear-overlay'}); }); Twitter: [...]

  2. [...] Arizona community college newspaper investigating Jared Loughner’s connection to campus was repeatedly denied interviews with school [...]

  3. [...] 26, 2011 by Dan « Student Newspaper Calls Out College for ‘Stonewalling’ About Arizona Shooter, Other Issues NextGen Journal: Student News, Voices Outside the College Bubble [...]

  4. [...] Pima Community College Newspaper Says School ‘Stonewalled’ Them Over Loughner Coverage Written by admin Uncategorized Apr 16, 2011 A student newspaper at an Arizona community college is criticizing administrators for keeping "a tight noose around release of information," including remaining silent about the school's connection to infamous shooter Jared Lee Loughner. In a recent editorial, the Aztec Press described a "misguided and counterproductive" culture of secrecy at Tucson's Pima Community College. In the newspaper's view, PCC's free press and free speech violations run long. As the piece charges, "When a media outlet, including the Aztec Press, requests an interview or even a comment from any college employee, PCC's marketing department insists on first granting 'permission.' Further, the marketing department consistently requests a list of advance questions. More often than not, a marketing department spokesperson answers the questions via e-mail instead of allowing a reply from the appropriate source. . . . In the rare case when a face-to-face interview is approved, a public relations person sits in. That can intimidate both the reporter and the interviewee. Apparently, the noose has been pulled so tight by officials that PCC faculty and staff decline to speak about even non-sensitive topics. According to the Press, "They've been cowed by pressure from the top." Read the rest of this post at College Media Matters… [...]



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