With Their Paper Shut Down, Florida A&M Students Start ‘Rogue Website': ‘Real Journalism Has No Pause Buttons’

The student staffers of The Famuan campus newspaper at Florida A&M University have launched their own independent online news outlet, fighting back against a recent administrative takeover of the paper they describe as “ungrounded and arbitrary.”

As I previously posted, the FAMU student newspaper has been restricted from publishing their first issue of spring semester this week as planned.  Instead, the university administration has shut down all editorial operations.  The student staffers have been ordered to reapply for their positions and are also now required to “undergo training in media law and ethics . . . [and] more general journalism principles.”  Apparently, if all goes well, they will once again be allowed to produce an issue of the Famuan at month’s end.

But in the meantime, as Famuan editor-in-chief (or now officially former editor-in-chief) Karl Etters tells the SPJ Region 3 blog: “We won’t stop doing what we love.

In that spirit, say hello to Ink and Fangs.

Along with the obvious journalism reference, the name of the new “rogue website” refers to FAMU itself– the school nickname is the Rattlers, featuring a fanged, quite venomous rattlesnake as its mascot.  As the site’s motto explains about the students’ motivation, “Two things we’re passionate about: Journalism and Florida A&M University.”

An “About Us” sider fleshes it out a tiny bit more: “We have an insatiable need to produce news and inform and communicate with the public and FAMU.  That is what we fully intend to do in this forum.”

The site already features full news stories.  Ironically, the Ink and Fangs squad began posting them on the same day they had planned to publish the first Famuan issue of the semester– until the university intervened.  Ink and Fangs also has a Twitter handle.

Ink and Fangs generally follows what SPJ region 3 director Michael Koretzky refers to as “the Red and Dead model.”  As I previously posted, last August, the staff of The Red & Black at the University of Georgia temporarily quit en masse in protest over what they felt was an unacceptable level of editorial control being exerted by non-students.

To help their cause– and enable them to continue producing journalism, on their own terms– the students started a separate news site with an unsubtle symbolic name, Red and Dead. Their efforts received national attention and thousands of devotees on Facebook and Twitter.  Less than a week after the protests began, the students and the Red & Black board of directors reached an agreement to resume R&B production.

Will this FAMU fight see a similarly quick, happy ending?  At the moment, it is unclear.  The students have posted a joint statement expressing their immediate intentions (screenshot below).

Separately, in a comment on Ink and Fangs, current SPJ president Sonny Albarado writes, “Congrats to Famuan staff for keeping the light of press freedom glowing.  Best wishes.”  Arizona Daily Wildcat editor-in-chief Kristina Bui has also penned an editorial in support of their efforts, noting, “Yes, college newspapers are subjected to unreasonable restrictions by overreaching administrators every day. But Ink and Fangs, and movements like it, uphold student press freedoms.

The headline of Bui’s editorial: “Real journalism has no pause buttons, neither should student media.

Related

My Take: FAMU Campus Paper Shutdown a Big FU to Students & a Downright ‘Noxious Form of Censorship’

Florida A&M Student Newspaper Delayed From Publishing & Staff Ordered to Reapply for Positions

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3 Responses to “With Their Paper Shut Down, Florida A&M Students Start ‘Rogue Website': ‘Real Journalism Has No Pause Buttons’”
  1. Marilyn McClure says:

    How sad that, in this day and age, administrators are still so uneducated. They show no understanding of what journalism is or how to teach it.

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