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SPJ task force investigates Marquette


Dave Aeikens, Region 6 Director and Task Force Chairman, (320) 255-8744 or daeikens@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS A Society of Professional Journalists task force looked into the decision at Marquette University not to renew the contract of student newspaper advisor Tom Mueller.

The committee recommended the university make sure it was dismissing Mueller for the right reasons and offered that the departure of Mueller in May and Dean of Communications William Elliott, who retires in June, offer a fresh start for the paper and the university.

The task force interviewed students and staff at the university in reaching its conclusions. While the investigation did find incidents that caused concern, it did not find that the university administration was overly involved with the newspaper and did not find reactions to incidents unreasonable except for a letter from Marquette President Robert Wild to Mueller.

The task force recommendations include:
* Establishing a clear and defined structure that separates the university administration and the newspaper.
* Completing bylaws for the student media board.
* Writing a job description for the adviser.
* Getting separate legal counsel for the paper.
* Continuing and possibly adding legal and ethical seminars for newspaper staff.
* Avoid confusing direction from administration.

The five member task force included Dave Aeikens, SPJs Region 6 Director; Callie Martell, one of SPJs two student representatives to the board of directors; Gordon Govier, president of SPJs Madison Professional Chapter; Maryann Lazarski, adviser to SPJs University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee collegiate chapter and Kathy Lawrence, University of Texas-Austin and president of College Media Advisers.

The full report can be viewed at www.spj.org/foia/marquette.pdf.

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.


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