My University of Georgia journalism degree was earned in two places: the newsroom of the student-run Red & Black newspaper and in the class of late journalism Professor Conrad Fink, a long-time advocate of all things journalism who began his class every day with a run-through of the hits and misses of our student-run newspaper. Those of us on staff would have to nervously defend our editorial decisions of the night before in class to the journalism giant that was Fink. You see, we learned on the job. We made mistakes, like any newspaper, and we made sure to correct those mistakes. The education we received by publishing a student newspaper run by students for students cannot be replicated when professional, non-student staffers are running the show. I am not surprised this unethical takeover of editorial power by the board happened after Fink’s death, but I am proud to see his legacy continue in your bold decision to stand up for everything right about The Red & Black.
The Red & Black has always been a place of learning, quality journalism, mistakes and triumphs. It was a place where I, first as a news reporter and later as opinions editor, learned not just the technical skills that a journalist needs to know but also the more important principles of ethics, the public’s need and right to know, and our responsibility to uphold democratic values. These are principles the board is clearly lacking. You cannot have a student-run newspaper that is not run by students. I hope The Red & Black’s Board of Directors and leadership, especially Red & Black Publisher Harry Montevideo and University journalism head and board member Kent Middleton, come to their senses and prioritize student journalism over their need for power and profit. I would also suggest they reread The Red & Black’s mission and bylaws. It seems they have forgotten all that makes The Red & Black great. Hint: It’s not them. It’s the students.
Journalism, International Affairs 2011
Former Opinions Editor/ News Reporter