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SPJ calls for reinstatement of Northern Michigan University student newspaper adviser


April 7, 2015

Dana Neuts, SPJ National President, 360-920-1737 (PDT), dneuts@spj.org
David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Chair, 520-248-6242 (MST), spjdave@yahoo.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Society of Professional Journalists calls on the Board of Directors of the North Wind student newspaper and website at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., to reinstate its editorial adviser Cheryl Reed and reconsider the application of student Michael Williams seeking the position of editor for 2015-16.

The Board violated First Amendment principles in dismissing Reed and rejecting Williams April 3 as it made clear it disagreed with the editorial direction of North Wind. The Friday vote came eight days after the chair of the university's Board of Trustees sent an all-campus email disparaging North Wind's coverage of travel expenses of members of that board.

“Boards that oversee student media must avoid any hint of censorship or pre-publication interference,” said Dana Neuts, SPJ National President. “Colleges and universities that are fortunate enough to have student newspapers should give advisers the freedom to teach students about good, ethical journalism without fear of retribution if something less than positive is published about the institution.”

In addition to restoring Reed, a seasoned journalist who joined the English Department faculty at Northern Michigan last fall, as North Wind adviser, SPJ calls on the university administration to review bylaws and practices of the North Wind Board of Directors to ensure its adherence to free press principles.

The Society of Professional Journalists, based in Indianapolis and representing the interests of some 7,500 journalists across the United States, stands ready to assist the North Wind in retaining Reed as its adviser and considering Williams as editor, legally and otherwise.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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