Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

May 12, 1963 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-05-12
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'Hypocrisy Is Hurting the Press ...

Continued from Page Seven
opinions and exposure of ideas, intensi-
fying the intellectual emphasis of the
campus press experience. It permits the
publication of all shades of opinion and
most closely approximates the full im-
plementation of the libertarian theory.
Those who demand responsibility from
student editors can name no better way
of fostering it than by requiring the in-
dividual writers to identify their opinions,
forcing them to face public response on
them. Knowing that his own views will
be identified the editorialist will take
sharper pains perfecting his writing and
ironing out his logic. There is also the
tendency to avoid the deliberately mali-
cious or uncertainly grounded charges
he might make as an anonymous author.
If all members of the staff are free to
express their opinions on the editorial
page, there is no need for doing so on the
news pages. Two or three different analy-
ses of a campus debate or national politi-
cal political issue can be presented in de-
tail on the edit page. Again, there is no
official editorial policy that can be
furthered in the news articles.
In a sense, "editorial policy'' does get
expressed in the newsplay of articles:
how many inches on what page under
what size headline. Campus newspapers
tend to emphasize civil rihts and civil
liberty items, student action on other
campuses and to forget about violent
crimes, publicity stunts of movie stars.
train and airplane wrecks and most other
natural disasters. Because student news-
paper staffs usually believe in the idea
of student government, they purposefully
exaggerate the importance of student
government's actions in their newsplay,
treating the student government as if it
had already achieved its theoretical im-
port in the campus power structure.
The problem of newsplay in college
newspapers is one of lack of space. A
campus newspaper that can publish 1.200-
1,300 column inches daily is pushing the
maximum. The urban daily will normally
have five to .eight times that figure. Al-
though the ratio of news to advertising
in the college paper is much higher than
the commercial press (about 60:40 to
30:70), there simply isn't room enough
in the campus paper to print all the
news that's fit to print. A selection has
to be made, a selection of what not to
print. To a great extent the student edi-
tor has to determine what he thinks is
important for his readers to be aware of.
This is intensified on the campus of 1,000
or fewer students, where the paper's
major problem may be recruitment of
Last Sunday's edition of The Daily,
for example, had when one discounted
advertising, headline space and photo-
graphs, about 420 inches of space to re-
port and editorialize on the day's news.
That's about 17.000 words a day, hardly
enough to give a complete run down on
campus and national - international
events. To complicate the matter even
more, about 5,000 of those words were on
the editorial page.
The student newspaperman is re-
moved somewhat from the pressures of
'giving the public what it wants.' His
audience is guaranteed; the campus has
little other place to go to find out the
news. There are no circulation wars with
rival publications which demand sensa-
tional scoops. Few college papers depend
on newsstand sales so there is little need
for screaming extra-black headlines to
to attract customers.
For the few circulation advantages the
campus press has because it is associat-
ed with the university there are many
added burdens which pile up because one
is serving an academic community.
'LORE THAN this, however, student
editors are emphasizing the idea that
tltere ought to be a commitment to an
educational process transcending the
classroom. The student is readying him-
self not only for a profession but for en-
trance into a democratic social order
predicated on citizen participation in
public affairs. Hi search for truth cannot

be divorced from the events and person-
alities of the contemporary scene.
The grounding the student receives in
the principles of the humanities, social
sciences and natural and physical sci-
ences mean little without application to
the achievements and disasters of his

own day just as the 'news' of today
means little without an understanding
of the development of his civilization and
the ramifications of man's thought on
the basic problems of his existence.
The college newspaper has the poten-
tial to become the finest press in the
world and it often outstrips the quality
of the "professional" newspaper. It has
the ideal audience and recourse to the
finest resources on all subjects of con-
cern: the faculties and libraries of the
university. It serves perhaps the most
important community in our society,
the educational community. Its effect on
the university, if the editorial staff ap-
proaches the newspaper with intelligence,
imagination and integrity, can be tre-
mendous and its influence can be magni-
fled further through the university's im-
pact on the general society.
THE CAMPUS press should not be
looked upon as a training ground for
future newspapermen: this is the prime
function of the journalism department.
Where journalism departments control
.the student newspaper and utilize it as
a training laboratory, the devotion is to
style rather than content and the edi-
torial stream runs shallow with homage
to Mother's Day and denunciations of
gum in the college's water coolers.
It is the rare student newspaper, how-
ever, that can fully concentrate Its re-
sources on the more intellectual and jour-
nalistic problems of publishing an ade-
quate and objective accounting of the
news and a logically-based argumenta-
tive editorial page. The main problem
with which student editors are faced is
gaining the freedom of expression and
operation so that they can concentrate
on these former concerns. External in-
terference, censorship, repression of the
news are the evils which must be con-
stantly fought and repulsed.
'Freedom of the press' is a shibboleth
with no meaning for the college news-
paper. Under a tradition of in loco par-
entis a student loses all the rights he had
as a private citizen when he enrolls at
the university. He may exercise his free-
dom of speech without fear of govern-
mental punishment, but he must curtail
it as a 'condition of matriculation' if he
wants to remain a student at the uni-
Congress may make no law abridging
freedom of the press, but the Regents of
the University of Michigan can fire a
student editor, not let him distribute his
private newspaper on campus and dismiss
any students who join with him to pub-
lish such an off-campus newspaper.
E BEGAN with an examination of the
university's various attempts to de-
fine the perimeter of student freedom as
an introduction to the student press. We
find ourselves back here again as we
would in any discussion of the problems
and potentialities of students and student
The defense for paternalism usually,
hinges upon the "immaturity" of the
17- and 18-year olds or the demands
by American parents that the school
serve as an extension of (if not a sub-
stitute for) the home in the matter of
morals and discipline.
As far as the college press is concerned,
it is suppressed because it is dangerous.
Unbridled editorialism can expose chinks
in the university's glittering armor, attack
selfish and myopic legislators, and other-
wise embarrass the university or cause
it to lose friends and monies.
A controlled press is a guarantee that
nothing like this will happen and an op-
portunity to further public relations and
convince the public that students find the
institution an idyllic place by pointing to
the soft spoken and well mannered editor
and his equally soft spoken and well man-
nered editorials.
CONTROL OF the campus press is ex-
ercised in two formal. channels: pre-
censorship and staff appointments.
Precensorship is executed in a variety
of forms. A faculty adviser may read
every article before it is published, blue

penciling whatever he feels is potentially
controversial. Or he may Just read edi-
torials or only editorials about the
A written 'code of ethics' or a set of
'publication rules' is promulgated which
prohibits the .discussion of certain sub-

jects and allow others to be commented
on only if approved by some adminis-
trator, leaving the rest for 'student judg-
These codes contain the vague pro-
scriptions against publishing articles
which will compromise the university or
which could violate its 'best interests.'
Here sits the suspended axe.
There are a whole host of other infor-
mal acts of repression: threats to sus-
pend publication or fire the editors,
threats to deny further access to sources
of information or to refuse to grant inter-
views, cautionary warnings to 'take it
easier' or that ° "your methods are not

What should he know?

effect this process has on sophomores and
juniors on the staff.They will begin to
withhold their actual opinions if these
seem too unpopular and in some cases
will even express in print views which
they personally abhor because they think
they sit better with the men in power.
The senior editors of the newspaper are
in the best position to judge the abilities
of their successor, having spent three
years in dailycontact with them and are
also in the best position to determine the
qualities necessary to succeed in the
senior posts, having filled them for a
In the short run, the board's sub-
stitution may produce a better staff,
though this will be largely a matter of
luck, considering that the board's ap-
pointments will be more or less random.
In the long run, however, the quality is
only guaranteed by allowing temporary
-mistakes to be made and supporting the
students' right to control the operations
of their own newspaper. Even if this
should be proven to be false (which em-
pirically it has not), the editor's free-
dom should remain inviolate of univer-
sity control.
LET US START with the assumption
that the campus press in the univer-
sity is a minature of the commercial press
in the larger society. Since the com-
mercial press is free from societalregu-
lation or censorship, so should the campus
press. Now, try to justify adding restric-
tions to the operations of the campus
press. It can't be done.
Where the college press has been grant-
ed the same freedom as the commercial
press, student editors have produced out-
standing publications which lead the field
of college journalism and whose intel-
ligent analyses are more often than not
better than that of the commercial press.
Conversely, the worst college papers in
the nation are the ones most heavily
supervised and inspected by faculty or
Wherever and whenever the campus
newspaper is a part of the official in-
stitutional family, its freedom is actually
or potentially less than that of the pri-
vate press. University control means ac-
ceptance of the judgment by the univer-
sity's peculiar set of values and definitions
of "responsibility" and its contemporary
"best interests." Whatever formal mech-
anisms of control exist, this informal but
inescapable one keeps the campus press
from properly exercising its functions as
a free spokesman and a free critic.
the right to operate idependently of
the university, it can begin to move
toward exploiting its potentialities and
achieving its inspiring goals.
What exists now is an hypocrisy which
is not only hurting the quality of college
newspapers and retarding the develop-
ment of better universities, but is also
sapping away the strength of this na-
tion's democratic basis. As J. Ben Lieber-
man of the Columbia Graduate School of
Journalism argues, "The constitutional
provision for a free press is a keystone
to the entire architecture of the Ameri-
can system. No one can really be expected
to understand our democracy without
knowing it-and yet, where do the stu-
dents get it? . . . The only example of
the pressthey really know-the student
paper-operates on an entirely different
basis . . . The papers they know inti-
mately are not free papers."
While trying to extend the scope of
its autonomy by urging the university to
rededicate itself to a real philosophy of
education based on academic freedom, the
campus press must take advantage of the
freedom it does have.
Though shackled by the university, the
student newspaper must pledge itself to
try to improve the quality and range of
its news and editorial coverage, to serve
as grievance mechanism and unofficial
channel for change by safeguarding in-
dividuals' welfare and rights and welcom-

ing all suggestions for reform, and above
all else to instill in the commnunity a
spirit of diligent and disciplined question-
ing that provokes and guarantees the
fullest expression of opinion based on
the honest and complete presentation of
the facts.


VOL. IX, NO. 7


MAY12 196

liked," pledges to subvert the editor's rep-
utation and diminuish his effect within
the community.
THE COMPANION to precensorship is
postcensureship. The publications
board will censure the editors for pub-
lishing an editorial or controversial news
item and warn against printing anything
like it in the future. The university
president will slap at the paper for being
"Marxist-oriented." A faculty subcommit-
tee on public relations will "view with
alarm" a particular series of articles or
the student council will note "an apparent
trend towards irresponsibility." The ef-
fects of such motions depend on the
makeup of the bodies involved, the pres-
tige the body holds in the community
and the public response to the editorials
and articles.
Postcensorship can come more power-
fully through strong administrative ac-
tion. The dean of men suspends publica-
tion of the paper, as happened at the
University of Pennsylvania last year, or
the superintendent of schools does it as
happened at Flint College this year.
Student government demands such action
as provokes the resignation of a prin-
cipled editor, as happened at the Uni-
versity of California. The president of the
college dismisses the editor as has hap-
pened at Colorado, Chicago and countless
other campuses.
means the publications board or fac-
ulty adviser can employ to curtail and
contain editorial opinion. Those whose
editorials have been too extreme can be
kept out of top editorships which, are
then preserved for those of mote mod-
erate opinion. "Political" appointments
can be used to wean understaffmen
toward definite editorial stances.
There is injustice in failing to promote
the most capable reporters because of
their -editorial opinions and the news-
paper's quality will suffer for not having
these people as leaders. There is greater
harm, however, in the (often unconscious).

The Museum's Modern Art Exposition: Find o



Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan