Student Paper Shut Down 4 Days Prior to Relaunch: The Ultimate Prior Restraint?

Earlier this week, a message on the Facebook page of the Rough Writer, the student newspaper at Arizona’s Yavapai College, announced: “After two years, the Rough Writer is back. Our first issue will be online April 8th.”

Three days later, I received an email from an editor of the Rough Writer with a different announcement: “We got shut down.”

Assignment editor Josh Nothnagle and fellow staff were preparing to relaunch the RW a few years after it went defunct.  As Nothnagle explained, “Our new publication is online-only. We couldn’t print if we wanted to.  We have no budget.  In fact, we’re working out of a study room we have scheduled for regularly.  We have a roll of paper someone left in that room and a marker we borrowed from a staff member who was an editor of the paper in the past.  There is an office for the student newspaper, but we were told we can’t access it until the equipment is inventoried and divvied out to other offices on campus.  That’s not really our problem though.”


The real problem, according to Nothnagle, is the lack of editorial support from their faculty advisers.  He said one adviser told him all content needed to be vetted and approved by the advisory team prior to online posting.

For Nothnagle, that is a dealbreaker.  So he reached out to the top faculty adviser. The emailed response, according to him, “[I]t does not appear that there will be ongoing support for an online Rough Writer at this time.”

As he put it to me, “We got shut down.”  Shut down, before they had even begun.  The ultimate prior restraint?

One note of support on the RW Facebook page: “Infringing on the constitutional rights of your students. . . . [W]ow, way to go.  Anyone who doesn’t see this as a matter of free speech has their head up their a**.  Keep fighting the good fight, Joshua Nothnagle!”

My guess: To Be Continued…

2 Responses to “Student Paper Shut Down 4 Days Prior to Relaunch: The Ultimate Prior Restraint?”
  1. Follow the New City Collegian’s example.
    We reorganized as an external entity with NO support from the college what so ever. A few faculty supported us, but NOT AS members of faculty. They provided advice, planning assistance, and use NCC as an outlet for their student’s work that can be Journalism.

    You can do it WITHOUT the college!
    Be a news source FOR Students, BY Students, ABOUT Students.

  2. m says:

    The “to be continued” link isn’t active yet. :P