Daily Iowan Editor Criticizes the Cancellation of One-on-One Interviews with School President

Should a student newspaper have the right to conduct regular interviews with the university president?

Jordyn Reiland, editor-in-chief of The Daily Iowan, is publicly calling for the reinstatement of monthly sit-down interviews with University of Iowa president Sally Mason. According to Reiland, the exclusive one-on-one chats were a valued tradition between the prez and paper — until they were abruptly cancelled in June.

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In an open letter to readers published yesterday, Reiland explains the new norm is an occasional press conference featuring a range of local and student media in which the president delivers pre-planned opening remarks and answers questions for a few minutes from everyone present. And the only photos and videos allowed are those captured by UI media relations representatives. Bottom line, it’s not exactly the type of shindig ripe for candor, free-flowing conversation, multimedia storytelling and following up on scoops.

As Reiland confirms about the latter in relation to the most recent press conference, “[B]ecause major eastern Iowa news organizations were in attendance, asking specific questions about an exclusive story was less than practical, given the fact that a member of each of the three competing dailies would hear it. The obvious result is that all of us walked away with generally the same story lines and the same quotes.”

This ugh-inducing sameness has coupled with president Mason’s increased inaccessibility to the DI overall.

According to Reiland in her well-written letter, “If we do have a question for Mason at any other time [beyond the shared press conferences], we are asked to send an email or call [the school’s media relations squad] with the request. We receive an emailed response — again from [media relations reps], with a statement. There’s never an opportunity for direct communication with Mason — rather, everything is filtered through a strategic-communications team. So President Mason, I think it is time we have a sit-down.”

Here is a Daily Iowan TV segment on Reiland’s presidential sit-down request:

What do you think?

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