The day wasn’t all healing, though. The news organization’s current publisher tussled with a reporter from another campus news outlet who was filming during the meeting, and the incident was caught on cell phones, tweeted, and posted on YouTube. Gawker followed up on that angle too. It breaks my heart, because I’ve met the publisher and consider him a good guy.
The painful lessons for the news organization’s publisher, Harry Montevideo, in this case: You can’t deny media access anywhere these days; your nonprofit salary could be published far and wide; and a publisher, of all people, should never lay their hands on a student journalist. Montevideo followed up early Saturday with an apology to the student and posts in one Facebook alumni group indicating he took a salary cut in the summer of 2012. At the moment, no one has filed charges in the tussle with the student.
Perhaps the broader lessons going forward: Those who treasure the institutions that educated generations of journalists cannot let old structures ossify. More than 30 years ago, many of us felt we had solved the problems of independence for student voices when The Red and Black became independent of the university. Clearly, it’s a battle that needs to be fought time and again. We’ve been discussing it on an alumni Facebook group that grew from 165 members to more than 350 in three days, with concrete steps planned soon as well as watchful eyes. The whole thing is far from over.
As Barry Hollander, a professor of journalism at the university blogged, it’s way past time for those old structures to bend, before they break. We need new blood, and the passion and new-media skills the young journalists used to tell their story represent journalism’s future.
But first, it looks like they’ll have to reapply for their jobs. They have the support of many, if not all, of the alumni I know.
Best of luck, guys. The alums are watching, as are members of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Student Press Law Center. Hit us up with questions through the usual social-media channels.
*This story originally misspelled the last name of Michael Koretzky.