We, the former staff of The Red & Black — all of its editors and the great majority of its writers, photographers and designers — will continue to produce content driven by and for our audience: the University students and members of the Athens community. It is our hope that issues of prior review, student representation on the board and the role of board member Ed Stamper will be resolved. Prior review, where a non-student professional would have final veto over all editorial content before publication, is not an option: it inhibits the teaching process, preventing student journalists from learning from both their successes and mistakes. But it is the opinion of The Red & Black’s board that allowing students to make these mistakes as learning journalists will drive away readers. We disagree — and it is our hope that these issues are resolved quickly so that student-driven and student-approved content can continue to be the priority of The Red & Black Publishing Company, as it has been for more than a century.
From the EIC:
The former Red & Black staff met with the publisher and a Red & Black board member this afternoon. We went in to re-approach the situation, but they refused to speak to us on the record. We spoke off the record and presented our concerns about prior review, lack of student input and the removal of Ed Stamper from the board of The Red & Black. Stamper is the board member who wrote the draft of the internal memo. Our goal is to return to The Red & Black as a student-sourced, student-written, student-designed and student-approved publication, as the paper has been since it broke from the University. The former student staff is dedicated to journalism and will continue to independently produce content covering the University of Georgia and the Athens community.
In response to the resignation of student editors at the Red & Black Wednesday evening, The Red & Black board of directors and publisher, Harry Montevideo issues the following statement.
August 16, 2012
For a communications company, we clearly have been at the center of a great deal of miscommunication during the past 24 hours. We regret this failure of clarity with our core constituency, the student journalists. We want to set the record straight on several matters.
The Red & Black is still and will remain an independent student media organization. It has been in the past and will continue to be supported by a dedicated group of professionals.
In an effort to provide a better product for our readers of print and digital news and to provide better training for our student journalists, The Red & Black recently decided to add additional professionals to both the editorial and business staff, half of whom are part time.
The Red & Black does not plan to have these professionals assume the role of our student Editor in Chief. The editorial director is a counselor, teacher, mentor, coordinator and manager. The editorial director is charged with helping students make smart content decisions prior to publication, particularly on stories, which involve issues of libel or standards of quality and ethics. It is not, nor has it ever been the intention of the board to censor student content.
We expect our students to collaborate with our professional staff to establish and maintain standards for quality, develop plans for content and create quality journalism products, which engage our audience.
The Red & Black champions the best interest of student journalists. Core to our mission is providing the best possible training and experience, which mirrors the real world. We are optimistic about our future and the board has made a significant investment in additional teachers for our student journalists, multimedia staff, and graphic design team. We have also established a Marketing/PR group to expand the experience we offer students and have added to our advertising staff.
The changes reflect our board’s optimism and the recognition that we must maintain pace in a rapidly changing world of news delivery beyond our traditional print format. The board is a volunteer group comprised of formerThe Red & Black staff and other journalists and business leaders, who have a passion for its heritage and wish to see it remain strong and independent for decades to come.
We are open for business and want to encourage any UGA student interested in working at their student newspaper to come by our office at any time. And that includes any former, staff members. There will be an open house and discussion at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 in our office at 540 Baxter Street.
Contact: Melita Easters, 404-408-9863
I, Polina Marinova, have resigned as the editor-in-chief from The Red & Black, the student newspaper covering the University of Georgia. The Red & Black’s top editors, design staff, photo staff and reporters walked out of the newspaper building this afternoon.
The Red & Black has covered the University of Georgia community since 1893 and has been independent of the University since 1980. The newspaper has always been a student-run operation, but recently, we began feeling serious pressure from people who were not students. In less than a month, The Red & Black has hired more than 10 permanent staff with veto power over students’ decisions.In a draft outlining the “expectations of editorial director at The Red & Black,” a member of The Red & Black’s Board of Directors stated the newspaper needs a balance of good and bad. Under “Bad,” it says, “Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things. I guess this is ‘journalism.’ If in question, have more GOOD than BAD.” I took great offense to that, but the board member just told me this is simply a draft. But one thing that would not change is that the former editorial adviser, now the editorial director, would see all content before it is published online and in print. For years, students have had final approval of the paper followed by a critique by the adviser only after articles were published. However, from now on, that will not be the case. Recently, editors have felt pressure to assign stories they didn’t agree with, take “grip and grin” photos and compromise the design of the paper.
But what’s most alarming to me is that there was no input from The Red & Black student staff about any of these changes. I was doing an internship this summer, and I did not receive any materials related to these changes until I myself emailed the board member about it. Even then, nothing was solidified, and I still do not even know what the print product will look like in a week. I’ve worked at this paper since I was a freshman and held multiple leadership positions throughout. This semester, we have a really talented, smart and dedicated staff that had no voice in these changes. It all came from the top, not from the students.
The Red & Black has always been the best experience for student journalists. It’s no longer a place where lessons can be learned without “serious repercussions.” We don’t believe that is a learning environment.
As the former editor-in-chief, I stood by my editors and staff 100 percent and what I found out today was that we all stood together.
We would like to make a public statement letting people know that the University of Georgia administration is not affiliated with the Board of Directors of The Red & Black.
|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.”