Princeton Newspaper Editor-in-Chief: ‘It’s Hard Being a Student Journalist These Days’
The “most contentious critics” of The Daily Princetonian at Princeton University are not alumni, faculty, administrators or other professional staff. They are Princeton students.
According to outgoing editor-in-chief Marcelo Rochabrun, ‘Prince’ staffers faced a range of retaliatory words and actions over the past year simply for practicing quality journalism and sharing, umm, you know, the truth.
As Rochabrun explains in a well-written goodbye letter to readers, “While these consequences [for staff] were mainly social — being banned from an eating club or being asked to leave a small dorm party, for example — others were serious yet highly improbable, such as threats of bodily harm or a conspiracy to plant drugs in the newsroom. (I kid you not, I overheard the latter one day while walking to our newsroom at 48 University Place).” [Dan note: What?!]
So what’s the reason behind all this silly and scary student reader haterade? Rochabrun argues it may stem from a built-in student body/student media bro code of sorts — a misbegotten belief that an outlet by the students, for the students, should prop up and look out for its core audience and never disrespect it or share its (newsworthy) secrets.
In Rochabrun’s words, “A vocal minority of the student body has come to expect a paper that, if it does not properly advocate for the interest of the students, at least presents a semblance of solidarity with its peers. In short, that we play nice when we discuss one of our own. One particular comment on a recent arrest story was symptomatic of this thinking, a student wrote: ‘It’s amazing to see student publications more concerned with disgracing their student body than actually publishing thought provoking news.'” [Dan note: I will forever giggle and roll my eyes at the idea that it’s not the students getting arrested who are disgracing their classmates or school, but the campus paper reporting on them.]
Bottom line, this is a full-on, Category 5 irony alert: At a school so hell-bent on controlling the message it literally boasts a 150-administrator-strong PR program called SPIN (all caps), the biggest reporting roadblocks and pains in the butt for ‘Prince’ staff are the student peers they work like mad to serve.
The lede of Rochabrun’s see-ya-later letter:
“It’s hard being a student journalist at Princeton these days.”