CONTACT: Mead Loop, SPJ vice president for campus chapter affairs, (607) 274-3047 or firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS -- Administrators of Ocean County College in New Jersey are sorely mistaken if they think terminating the contract of a longtime student newspaper adviser will stop a free and fair press.
Karen Bosley’s role as adviser to the award-winning Viking News, a position she has held for 35 years, will not be renewed because the Ocean County College board of trustees voted unanimously not to reappoint her. The college’s board denied that this decision had anything to do with the aggressive reporting of the administration by students.
The Society of Professional Journalists isn’t so sure. As a result, the nation’s largest journalism advocacy group plans to watch this campus closely and urges college administrators to rethink their decision.
Some of the students’ reporting included the decision by college President Jon H. Larson to reschedule the school’s activities period, a move opposed by 74 percent of those asked about it in a Viking News story. The newspaper has leveled other criticism of Larson on its editorial pages.
“Making a scapegoat of any newspaper adviser because college administrators don’t like the content or criticism by the school newspaper makes me wonder why an aspiring journalist would want to study at a school that does not respect First Amendment rights,” said Mead Loop, SPJ vice president for campus chapter affairs.
As reported by the Asbury Park Press, Bosley said she was given two primary reasons for her termination: the newspaper’s error rate and the students’ use of Macintosh computers because Apple’s technology is not -- according to the administrators -- preparing student journalists for the real world.
“All of us are familiar with student errors and the value of learning from them,” Bosley wisely told college trustees. “They make them in classrooms, they make them on athletic fields, they make them in student publications.”
As for the college administrators’ claims about Macs? “Wow, are they ill-informed,” said Christine Tatum, the Society’s president-elect and a business writer for The Denver Post. “I use my Mac at work all the time -- and disdain having to use anything else.”
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.