SPJ releases findings from Ocean County College Task Force report
For Immediate Release:
Paul Schreiber, Task Force Chairman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Corry, Task-Force Member: (631) 737-1700, email@example.com
David Carlson, President: (352) 846-0171, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS – After an exhaustive inquiry into the removal of Professor Karen Bosley as student newspaper adviser at Ocean County College in New Jersey, a Society of Professional Journalists task force recommends that Bosley be reinstated.
In December 2005, at the recommendation of Ocean County College President Jon Larson and his chief administrators, the school’s board of trustees voted unanimously not to reappoint the adviser to the campus newspaper. Karen Bosley had held the post for 35 years. She also was reassigned from teaching journalism to teaching English.
Reasons given for not renewing Bosley’s contract included unsatisfactory job performance. The college said she was slow to incorporate new technologies and resisted efforts to modernize the newspaper. Larson and the trustees said criticism of the administration published by the campus newspaper was not factored into the decision.
After hearing of Bosley’s dismissal as campus newspaper adviser, SPJ president David Carlson appointed a task force of SPJ members to investigate the facts of the situation. The task force visited the campus in February and interviewed people on all sides of the issue.
The Ocean County College case is a “study in suspicion, frustration, escalation and the hardening of positions on all sides,” the task force concluded.
“At the very least,” the task force reported, the termination of Bosley as the adviser to the campus newspaper “was handled badly.”
Other task force findings and recommendations include:
•Many of the administration’s actions over the years were heavy handed and counter-productive. The task force concluded that senior administrators at OCC were primarily interested in establishing and maintaining control at the college, including control of the flow of information.
•Bosley was slow in developing a 5-year plan for the school’s student media after it was requested, but her actions were justified.
•School administrators should find a neutral means of engaging student media.
•The student newspaper, Viking News, does need improvement. Viking News editors should work to improve its look, layout, photography and reproduction.
•School administrators should make it clear that faculty, staff, students and student media have the right to speak with whomever they choose without checking first with the school’s media relations department.
"It seems clear that the administration believed Bosley was behind the negative stories in Viking News and decided to get her out of the way, even to the point of stripping away her journalism classes," said Task Force Chairman, Paul Schreiber. "The administration contends that she would not cooperate in implementing its vision, and she did move slowly, but we concluded that she had good reason to be wary."
To read the 23-page report, including more recommendations, visit www.spj.org/pdf/occreport.pdf.
“SPJ supports democracy, and a crucial component of democracy is vigorous and independent media,” said SPJ President Carlson. “This is just as important at community colleges as in the great capitals of the world.
“We hope this report will be used constructively by both sides to improve the student media climate at Ocean County College,” Carlson said.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.