Monday, October 15, 2012

Communications Faculty Did Not Like The Warrior

From the Marquette Tribune comes news that The Warrior, an independent student publication, is shutting down, at least temporarily.

Running a campus newspaper that isn’t subsidized by a university is always a struggle, and the wonder is that The Warrior survived so long, mostly do to a very dedicated group of students.

But rather dismaying is the fact that the faculty of the College of Communication was hostile to the enterprise all along. From a Tribune op-ed:
I wrote for The Warrior for four years while I was a journalism student at Marquette. I was its news editor from 2008 to 2009 and Editor-In-Chief from 2009 to 2010.

The recent announcement about the paper shutting down indefinitely is a huge loss for the students and open discourse at the university. It means Marquette will lose a forum for a truly independent student voice.

I always felt that my experience with The Warrior exemplified what journalism should be: hard work, asking tough questions, being persistent in the face of adversity and being critical of the status quo.

One of the biggest disappointments about my time with The Warrior was the response the paper got from the faculty and staff in Marquette’s College of Communication, which houses the school-funded paper, The Marquette Tribune.

The way I see it, journalism professors and student newspaper advisors in the College of Communication actively tried to dissuade students from joining The Warrior, telling them they would not get internships or full-time jobs with experience from an independent, less supervised newspaper.

During my time at Marquette, The Warrior was not considered a legitimate student news source on campus. We were not included in any university-sanctioned journalism events, discussions or other opportunities afforded to student media. The school would not let us distribute the paper on school property or put bins on campus.

In my experience, professors would not consider clips from The Warrior to count as writing clips for their reporting classes as they did for the Tribune. What many Marquette professors told their students about the experience The Warrior offered simply was not true. I know firsthand.

One of The Warrior’s primary goals was to rally for administrative transparency and efficiency while encouraging a true discourse of ideas. Its existence is critical because it gives students an opportunity to hold accountable the leaders who spend their tuition money and guide their education.

The College of Communication’s response to The Warrior was, and still is, baffling. I could never understand why the very people who were guiding and training the next generation of journalists wouldn’t applaud and embrace the initiative and passion of some. These were the students who cared so much about journalism and true watchdog reporting that they would work long, unpaid hours, trying to make a go of an uncensored, independent newspaper.

Because of my experience with The Warrior, I interned with news organizations in Washington, D.C. for two summers, got a five-month business internship with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel my senior year and got a full-time job as a reporter with The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., right after graduation. I was at the N&O for two years and am now in graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill but plan to go back into journalism after I’m done with my Master’s program.

Marquette’s response to The Warrior represents the hubris of journalism academics in trying to contain student journalism in a university-sanctioned bubble. It is also symptomatic of an opaque administration trying to control information and preserve a prescribed public image.

I love Marquette and I cherish the time I spent there. That’s why I think it’s so important to have an outlet for students to write uninhibited and participate in an open discourse to express their views and ask tough questions of the university. I hope The Warrior comes back online bigger and better than ever before.

Katelyn Ferral College of Communication Class of 2010
What’s the explanation for this? The simplest, and one that doubtless is a large part of the story is ideological bias. Communications faculty, like academia generally, are liberal and leftist. Further, there are fewer and fewer old-time liberals who worked as reporters and have a rather broad-minded and tolerant view of political conflict. Rather, Communications as a discipline comes to look more and more like the humanities.

Of course, there might be additional aspects to this. Communications schools have a mainstream media bias (with the exception of faculty who are hard leftists and think the mainstream media too conservative). They identify with the New York Times, the Journal-Sentinel, ABC, NBC, CBS and NPR, and rather dislike insurgent media (except for insurgent media on the left). Just who are, after all, these upstarts who think they can challenge the established gatekeepers and scorekeepers.

Since the Tribune is rather docile, and ultimately under the control of the College of Communications — and also staffed by people with a mainstream media orientations — it can be accepted.

The really good innovative journalists, the ones who will challenge the cozy journalistic status quo, won’t come from places like the College of Communication.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous James Pawlak said...

It appears that the UW-Milwaukee Post is suffering the same fate.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Billiam said...

Welcome to the REAL world of Liberal 'tolerance'. Learn this lesson well. You will encounter it again.

6:58 AM  

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