College newspapers – how independent can they be?

As I’m reading through The Ithacan’s coverage of the racial tensions that are happening on Ithaca College’s campus, one thought is coming to mind: how far can the school-affiliated newspaper go in its reporting?

To give a brief summary, racial tensions have reached such a high at the college of the students believing that the administration is not doing their part in handling racial issues, that in a meeting on Tuesday students walked out of a meeting with the school’s President and the like. (Here’s a more complete article about the event written by The Ithacan.) This is all following the Student Government Association of IC calling for a no confidence vote on President Tom Rochon.

Campus newspapers are meant to provide valuable experience to students in reporting the news and working at an actual news outlet, but how far can the newspaper go? I mean, their funding comes from the school, they’re affiliated with the school, and if prospective students and their families are anything like my mother, they are picking up the newspaper when they visit the college and learning about the actual culture.

Earlier this year a op-ed piece about the Black Lives Matter movement was published at Wesleyan University’s student newspaper. The Blaze reported days later that the student assembly at this college voted to pull half of the normal fund’s from the paper and discussions were being held about how the editorial process should take place at the paper.

This is just one example of how much power an institution has over a student-run newspaper, and how dangerous it can be to the reporting of controversial events that are happening on the college campus. And in this example, it was just the student government making the calls. So, how long will it be until the administration starts sticking their nose into The Ithacan’s coverage of the controversial administration? Only time will tell….

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