August 24, 2012

BREAKING: College newspaper endorses Barack Obama

The staff of Central Connecticut State University's Recorder.

This one hits close to home. From The Onion:

NEW BRITAIN, CT—Calling him the "best person to lead this nation forward," the editors of The Recorder, Central Connecticut State University's student newspaper, officially endorsed Barack Obama for president in a front-page editorial this week.

Titled "Our Choice For Tomorrow," the 600-word endorsement—which follows recent staff editorials on late-night student shuttle service and expanding the use of DevilDollars meal-plan credits to off-campus eateries—carefully lays out why Obama would serve the nation better than Mitt Romney, whom the newspaper called a "worthy candidate" but not the one most qualified to serve in "the highest post in the land."

"The important decision of whom to support in the 2012 election is not easy, and it is not a task we take lightly," wrote the editorial board of the newspaper that is published each Wednesday during the academic year. "The road ahead will be difficult, with continued challenges such as climate change, the debt, and ongoing global threats, but we believe Mr. Obama is prepared to deal with the hard choices of our time."

"Despite not being able to turn the country around completely during his first term, the president has nonetheless delivered on many issues," the editorial continued. "That's why The Recorder offers its support to Barack Obama in 2012."

The publication praised Obama's "bold vision," citing his commitments to higher education, technology, and "helping the poor and the environment." The editors also noted that they were particularly impressed with Obama's visit to the school's campus two years earlier.

Despite its endorsement, the editorial aimed to serve as a "wake-up call" for Obama, sternly warning the incumbent that "slogans won't be enough this time around." The Recorder's staff, whose members receive four English Department credits for their work on the newspaper, went on to offer the president even more pointed words, stating that it was imperative he "stand up for the middle class" if he wanted to triumph in November.

Flanked by articles on the volleyball team's recent 3-1 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and an annual drag talent show planned for Greek Week, the editorial noted that it was providing a realistic assessment of Obama's first term by not only focusing on his successes in office, but also candidly shedding light on his "share of failures."

Listing several unfulfilled promises and questionable policies that "did not please the editorial board of The Recorder," the editors went on to state that it was their duty as members of the press to ask tough questions, and declared the newspaper would "lend its support to Barack Obama, but not let him off the hook, either." In particular, they drew attention to a number of issues on which, they asserted, the president would have to "step up" and show some "real leadership."

"Mr. President, we must ask you: What do you plan on doing about Guantánamo? And what about the situation in Syria, which has grown increasingly messy?" inquired the publication with a circulation of 1,500 copies that is usually picked up in the student union and flipped directly to the crossword puzzle. "These are real concerns that matter to the people of this country, and they deserve an answer."

According to sources, The Recorder called an all-staff meeting last week at its offices in the basement of the East Asian Studies building to discuss which candidate to endorse, scheduling the assembly on a Sunday night so as not to conflict with the editor-in-chief's intramural broomball game.

"We definitely took into consideration that Mitt Romney had success as a businessman," said 19-year-old Alfredo Cortes, the publication's managing editor and also the contributor of a twice-monthly house and dubstep music review column. "There was a pretty long discussion about who would do better on the economy, and a couple people were upset with the president's unclear stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but eventually we decided Obama would be best overall, and we felt it was very important to get our paper's voice out there behind him."

In making its endorsement, The Recorder acknowledged the "big expectations on the president's shoulders" and called on him to live up to his ideals. It also appealed directly to the nation's 140 million likely voters, commenting that the "future is in [their] hands."

"America stands at an important crossroads, and we look to Barack Obama for a brighter tomorrow," concluded the newspaper of record for almost 10,000 undergraduates. "Hope? Change? We certainly hope so."

August 22, 2012

How a student newspaper story at UC-Berkley turned into a 31-year odyssey

Mario Savio was one of the student activists targeted by the FBI at UC-Berkley. (Photo by Duke Downey/Chronicle File)

San Francisco-based journalist Seth Rosenfeld has just released a book that details how deep and invasive the FBI's involvement was in the student protests that rocked UC-Berkley in the 1960s. Titled Subversives: The FBIs War on Student Radicals and Reagan's Rise to Power, the book is the result of 31-years of reporting that began when Rosenfeld was a writer at the Daily Californian, Berkley's student newspaper. In a recent Fresh Air interview, Rosenfeld explains the book's genesis.
I first got interested in the subject when I was a student at the University of California at Berkley in the late 70s. I was a writer for the Daily Californian student newspaper. The Daily Cal had requested some FBI files on Berkley under the freedom of information act. So I looked at those files and I wrote a story about the FBI spying on the Free Speech Movement and on the Vietnam Day committee and they were published back in 1982, but I realized there was far more to the FBI's activities on campus. So I submitted a much larger freedom of information act request. I figured I would get the files in a year or so, write the story and go onto the next project. I had no idea that I was embarking on what would become a 31 year legal odyssey. 
The project would take him through five different court cases and $600,000 in legal fees, something Rosenfeld never could have anticipated when he was a 25-year old student journalist.

Rosenfeld's reporting not only revealed that the Hoover's bureau was a partisan force that ruined the lives on students and administrators, including the university president, who they believed to be politically suspect, but that future President Ronald Reagan was heavily involved in these activities and benefitted personally because of his relationship to the FBI.

August 21, 2012

The hotbed press: what the Canadian Senate said about student journalism in 1969

The red chamber was not impressed with the student press in '69. (Photo courtesy of jonath/Flickr)

In 1969, the Canadian Senate's special committee on the mass media put out "Uncertain Mirror," a report examining the state of, well, the mass media in Canada. It was a comprehensive look at the subject, with sections devoted to not just newspapers and public broadcasters, but the ethnic press, "farm press" [whatever that is], the underground press and student papers, which they dubbed "the hotbed press." The next excerpt captures the essence of their message:

The Committee devoted part of its research effort and a full day of its hearings to the student press in Canada. We find it reassuring to report that although the rhetoric surrounding this subject has changed in the past few decades, nothing else has. Canada's best student newspapers are still un-professional, shrill, scurrilous, radical, tasteless, inaccurate, obscene, and wildly unrepresentative of their campus audience. They always have been.
Read the rest of the section on the student press after the jump.