Top Red and Black editors resign

Updated at 11:10 p.m. after a statement from The Red & Black appeared on its Facebook page.“Dear Red and Black family members–I am more glad than you know to see you raising questions about what’s going on right now at an organization we all love dearly. As a current member of the volunteer board of directors, I promise you all that the intent of the board is to support and preserve the purpose for which the paper exists: operating a publishing company excusively for literary and educational purposes, including the promotion of educational skills in journalism through the publication and distribution of a collegiate newspaper and other publications in and about the University of Georgia. You all know me, and I hope, still trust me. As long as I’m drawing a breath, I will work to preserve our purpose for being. I have spoken with Bill Krueger to begin the process of bringing him into the conversation, and will also be in touch with our representative director who is onsite working with Harry and the staff on this initiative. Right now, I have not heard from Harry, and do not know where he is on this. Please continue to follow, and weigh in as this unfolds. We are not the enemy; the enemy is indifference.”BY CAILIN O’BRIEN

Top editors and other staff walked out of The Red & Black’s office today following a staff meeting concerning a draft memo written by a board member to the editorial director.

Editor-in-chief Polina Marinova told the editorial director her decision to leave the paper after the meeting.

“I decided to resign as editor-in-chief because I felt it wasn’t an environment about learning and training students to do quality journalism anymore,” Marinova said. “I loved The Red & Black and did not agree with what it is becoming, so I decided to step down as the student representative of the paper.”

All top editors including managing editor Julia Carpenter, news editor Adina Solomon, variety editor Tiffany Stevens, sports editor Nicolas Fouriezos, multimedia editor Lindsey Cook, photo editor Cody Schmelter and chief photographer Evan Stichler also left their positions at The Red & Black.

The editors and staff who left the paper began tweeting out of an account called @redanddead815. About two and half hours after creating the account, it had attracted 1,000 followers.

Notable followers include the Student Press Law Center and alumni of the UGA journalism program.

Followers on Twitter also tweeted the account to CNN and The Daily Show.

Editors said the unrest among the staff had been building since the summer.

Changes started occurring after the April board of directors meeting, according to former senior reporter Mariana Heredia.

Directors made the decision after that meeting to invite a sitting board member skilled in publishing to fix the problems they felt had led to a falling readership in the past several years.

The Red & Black hired more than 10 new non-student employees in an attempt to offer more resources to the students working at the paper.

But editors said they started to feel as though the changes were beginning to infringe on the student-run aspect of the paper.

“I started receiving emails telling me what stories to cover and how to cover them and when to cover them that weren’t coming from the editor-in-chief or the managing editor,” Solomon said.

Other former top editors expressed similar feelings.

“I felt like it was unethically turning into something that we were trained not to do, from grip and grin photos to not letting us do our own work,” Stichler said. “It wasn’t our paper anymore.”

Editorial director Ed Morales was unavailable for comment.

The editors said they do not regret the experiences they gained during their years working at The Red & Black but cannot stay on with these new changes.

“The Red & Black gave us a lot, and the only thing is that it was a student newspaper and it’s no longer run by students,” Heredia said. “We want that back. They took away our newsroom.”

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21 thoughts on “Top Red and Black editors resign

  1. To all of those who walked out tonight,
    My name is Glenn Orman and I was the editor-in-chief of the R&B in 2005 and a 4 year staffer. I just wanted to say how proud I am of what you’ve stood up for and to tell you that at least 20 of the people on the staff with me back in the mid-2000s are all talking about you tonight and stand behind you 100%. We know what you’re going through (as they tried a much less invasive approach of this while I was EIC) and would be happy to help out however we can. I’m so very proud to be an R&B alumni tonight and please keep this blog going. Let me know if any of us alumni can be of service to you guys.

    Glenn

  2. We at the voice (gainesville state college soon to be the university of north Georgia ) stand with you. Julia we had fun at mscne12 , let’s not forget what the attorney from the splc taught us! “Never give up , never , never , never!!! Never yield to force never givin to the apparent overwhelming might of the enemy!” -Churchill

  3. Dear fellow Red and Black family members:

    As contemporary students, most of you don’t know me. But I was one of the original 1978-1980 R&B students who negotiated our move to independence as a non-profit student newspaper serving the University of Georgia community. Here is my statement just posted on Facebook; please read and consider my words, and know that we can work this out together.

    “Dear Red and Black family members–I am more glad than you know to see you raising questions about what’s going on right now at an organization we all love dearly. As a current member of the volunteer board of directors, I promise you all that the intent of the board is to support and preserve the purpose for which the paper exists: operating a publishing company excusively for literary and educational purposes, including the promotion of educational skills in journalism through the publication and distribution of a collegiate newspaper and other publications in and about the University of Georgia. You all know me, and I hope, still trust me. As long as I’m drawing a breath, I will work to preserve our purpose for being. I have spoken with Bill Krueger to begin the process of bringing him into the conversation, and will also be in touch with our representative director who is onsite working with Harry and the staff on this initiative. Right now, I have not heard from Harry, and do not know where he is on this. Please continue to follow, and weigh in as this unfolds. We are not the enemy; the enemy is indifference. Love to all–CR”

    Charles H. Russell–Athens

    • Charles, I couldn’t help but notice something. Did you intentionally leave any reference to “students” out of the your definition of the R&B’s purpose? Seems to me a glaring omission. Yes, “educational purposes,” but no reference to students running anything. I’ve never seen an expanded definition beyond, “independent, student-run paper…”

      Way to build that trust.

  4. Everyone —

    I’m impressed with the courage and fortitude shown in walking out today and standing behind each other. The R&B was a special part of my life and I’m glad to see that you recognized how valuable it is and refused to continue working at a publication that essentially had ceased to be.

    I look forward to seeing your next steps. I think there’s an opportunity to continue a student-run organization maximizing the tremendous talent among you all.

    SER

  5. As a fitfy-something who at times have lost faith in this younger generation, I feel proud to still find courage and determination as you’ve shown.

  6. Pingback: Missing Comma: University of Georgia Journalism Students Quit Newspaper En Masse « Hultner Reports

  7. As a Grady alumni and former R&B columnist (circa 2005), I’m so very proud of the student editors and reporters for standing up to this assault on editorial freedom. The publisher and board of directors appear extremely thick-headed and naive. Did they really expect the students to happily go along? Moreover, don’t they realize that they are undermining journalism in the name of improving it?

  8. Pingback: Better off Dead than Read? Staff of UGA student newspaper Red and Black resigns in protest | The War Eagle Reader

  9. My four years writing at The Red & Black, more than my time at the journalism school, is the primary reason I am now a successful journalist and bestselling author of seven books. The independence of the R&B, and having it run almost entirely by students, was crucial to the experience. It saddens me to see editorial control handed to a non-student and for the objectives of the paper to be characterized in the memo as other than journalism. The Board is losing sight of the purpose of the R&B. It does not exist merely as a business entity; it is the best opportunity a UGA student has to learn the craft of journalism while also serving the university community. Taking editorial control from the students, even though they will sometimes makes mistakes as they learn, is a terrible misstep. At a time when my faith in true journalism is tested every day, I applaud the staff of the R&B for walking out in defense of a newspaper that I love.

  10. I’m watching from afar and admire your decision. Student newspapers are student newspapers, and the R&B does not need professional oversight. It can stand on its record for many years. This is a very sad day for U of Georgia and its students and for student freedom of expression.

  11. Red and Dead staffers, I applaud your courage to stand up for what you believe in and against what is being forced upon what remains at the Red & Black, which is hopefully only the shortsighted BOD. Your parents have taught you well and given you a solid foundation along with the teachers and professors you all have had throughout your education. Stay strong and be proud of what you’re doing! Clearly, you all have tremendous support!!

    Of the non-students left at the R&B, who will the fall guy will be for this? I’m sure it will not be any of the BOD members or their newly hired non-students. Shame on them for not taking responsibility for their sweeping “journalistic improvements”. If they really believed in what they have done and their motives were journalistically driven they wouldn’t have stayed mute for so long. By the way, what is their motivation?

  12. do you think that the newspapers and blogs and magazines that hire you will not have permanent editorial boards, top-down decisions, corporate interests, editorial policies that are really political agendas, etc etc? in a way, the recent changes seem like they will _better_ serve the students who write for teh R&B in the hopes of securing professional work in this field. after all, it’s now shaped a lot more like the big time rags. i guess. maybe at gawker it’s just all sarcasm all teh time, but the AJC, NYT, etc? or am i dead wrong here? if i am just tell me. i think yall are throwing out the baby to spite your face.

  13. Pingback: Student journalists at Red and Black were right to walk out | Rocky Mountain Collegian

  14. Not being fully conversant with how the UGA student paper works, I am going to make the following comments, and beg indulgence for any gross inaccuracies/impossibilities. I was on the editorial board of The Technique at Tech for four years in the early 90s, and while both then and now I think you UGA journalists take yourselves far far far far too seriously, I congratulate you on your stand. Student activities are for students. Period. Since the Red and Black is apparently no longer really a student activity, I would encourage the University of Georgia administration proper to consider whether or not an adult-run activity should be given any privileges at the campus not normally available to other non-student media groups. My answer would be “no”, and hopefully their’s will be too. The Red and Black can be an independent student paper, or can be an independent professional paper, but it cannot be both, and the UGA administration is going to have to address and resolve this issue.

    As far as those who have left–given my background, I would strongly encourage the members that just resigned to consider starting a true student-run paper via student activity fees–to return to the Red and Black’s roots, so to speak. Having returned to Tech for a graduate degree, I can vouchsafe that The Technique still seems as if it has more or less the same level of independence as it did when I left–and we of my days were the Ed Board that called for the resignation of President Pat Crecine in 1992, something that eventually happened (though not because of anything we did)–and something we were never challenged or questioned about by the administration. We had independence. I think the current former Red and Black students will find that one can be pretty independent and school-funded at the same time, and I encourage them to look at this possibility.

    As far as the Red and Black itself–to those that left, don’t look back. Move forward. There is no way for you to go back with honor unless they of the Board get rid of the director position–which then calls into question the entire Board’s leadership, which then means they would need to resign themselves for having caused such a blunder. Which is not going to happen. The folks that did this don’t think much of you or they wouldn’t have done it in the first place. You can’t go back absent changes, and if they thought much of you they wouldn’t have tried to make the changes in the first place. There is thus probably no possible solution unless they fall on their swords. And if they had that kind of humility to do so, they would have never acted as they did in the first place. There is thus, as I said, probably no way out of this.

    Except the one I mentioned. Go back and be a true UGA student group, operating on the same basis of independence as the Georgia Tech Technique. Since Tech is doing it, UGA would be in the position of having to explain why they somehow can’t do the same. Since you would be the ones starting the activity, you will be in charge, not an “adult” Board (for your SGA would not fund otherwise, I presume). And you will have done an end-run around the Red and Black board, permanently calling into question the “is it by students?” legitimacy of the Red and Black. They of the Board may in fact come to the negotiating table if it looks like you will succeed. I thus encourage you to be bold and do the thing that will give you true independence, and not fake independence, and to start today.

    Finally, you may be students, and you might not have as much experience as those who have been able to call the shots, and there is a lot they probably can do better–but at the end of the day they are not your parents. You are not their wards. They are not your spiritual guides on the grand journey of life. Your actually are kind of their equals, especially for any over 21–citizens of the community, entitled to a certain amount of respect as an adult. Demand they recognize that. And demand of yourself that you recognize it as well.

    As long as you also recognize that you are young and don’t really know a lot. Confidence with humility is always the best course.

    At any rate, I have gone on long enough. Good luck and good hunting. Hope it all works out.

  15. Pingback: Student journalists at the Red & Black were right to walk out | Pura Vida Place

  16. Pingback: Year in Review: Most Viral Student Media of 2012, Part 2 « College Media Matters

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