Red & Black Becomes Red & Dead: Student Staff Quits, Protesting Loss of Editorial Control

Open Letter to Red & Black Board of Directors: What the Heck Are You Thinking?!

In a move so stunning my brain is still unsure what my fingers are typing, a portion of the student staff of The Red & Black at the University of Georgia has officially quit.  The staffers are protesting a loss of student control over editorial content.

The now-former staffers have set up a simple independent site named Red & Dead to explain the rationale behind their sudden walk-out.  In a letter posted there, former editor-in-chief Polina Marinova confirms “top editors, design staff, photo staff and reporters walked out of the newspaper building this afternoon. . . . The newspaper has always been a student-run operation, but recently, we began feeling serious pressure from people who were not students.”

According to Marinova, this building pressure includes the recent hiring of “more than 10 permanent staff with veto power over students’ decisions” and an apparent plan to give editorial director Ed Morales final say on all content prior to publishing or online posting.  The latter plan appeared in a recent memo created by the Red & Black Board of Directors.

As the Student Press Law Center reports:

The memo, which is labeled a draft, outlines that Morales will be responsible for “providing direction to students on what to cover to ensure we are covering topics that are compelling” and “holding our students accountable for quality, by correcting poor quality before publication and grading quality post-publication.”  The memo also advises a mix of “good and bad” content: “BAD: Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism.’ . . . If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.”  Marinova said in an interview that Morales approached her about the memo today, saying that the two needed to talk.  “Ed explained to me that he would read and be responsible for all the content that was to be published in print,” Marinova said.  “I thought this was a student-run paper. Why now?”

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