Okay, I’m going to stop obsessing over Foxgate soon, honest. :) But, first, I just wanted to point out that I’ve created a separate category for my coverage of this, so if anyone wants to link to it, it’s there. All new posts about Foxgate will also appear in said category.
Secondly, I just wrote another e-mail that I wanted to share, this one to Dr. Michael Jackson, the various members of the Media Board, and university president Steven B. Sample. It’s after the jump.
FROM: bloy [at] nd.edu
TO: mjackson [at] usc.edu
CC: cravens [at] usc.edu, lswhite [at] usc.edu, mparks [at] usc.edu, lpryor [at] usc.edu, presofc [at] usc.edu
SUBJECT: Zach Fox
Dear Dr. Jackson (cc: the Media Board, President Sample),
I am writing to express my overwhelming dismay at your ill-advised decision to prevent the Daily Trojan’s duly elected editor-in-chief from assuming his rightful office. I do not know Zach Fox personally, but it is an outrage that Student Affairs would meddle in the affairs of USC’s independent student-run newspaper in this manner.
It has long been assumed by Daily Trojan staff that the Media Board approval process is largely a formality, with its only real function being to provide a final check against the unlikely event of an egregiously unqualified editor-in-chief assuming office. Instead, it is now being used to unilaterally veto the staff’s legitimate choice of a perfectly well-qualified candidate because the administration disagrees with his proposed editorial staffing policies. Such a “veto power” cannot be justified without utterly compromising the Daily Trojan’s cherished independence.
Dr. Jackson, your action is an insult to the staff of the Daily Trojan and to the student body of USC at large. It also flies in the face of the very principles of journalistic independence that USC purports to teach its students. As an alumnus of the Annenberg School of Journalism and a former Daily Trojan editor, I am deeply disturbed by what has occurred. It is totally unbecoming of a great university like the University of Southern California. I am especially offended that you would make such a decision and then refuse to comment on the record about your rationale. This suggests an extremely arrogant attitude toward the student body, implying that they don’t have the right to know why you made this decision. Such arrogance is especially disconcerting when it comes from the Vice President of Student Affairs, whose whole job is to work with students to make their experience at USC the best it can be.
I urge you to cancel Friday’s illegitimate “second election” and recognize Zach Fox as the Daily Trojan’s editor-in-chief. He was duly elected; as such, anyone else’s “approval” is irrelevant. If his ideas for reforming the newspaper are impractical, that can be discussed and worked out once he is in office. But if the Daily Trojan is truly a student-run newspaper, under no circumstances can Zach be prevented from taking office simply because the administration disagrees with his ideas.
Going forward, I urge you to eliminate the Media Board approval process, which has no role in the governance of an independent paper; apologize to Zach Fox and the entire Daily Trojan staff for your unjustifiable meddling in their affairs; release to the staff their budget, as Zach has rightly demanded, as well as their website passwords and all other relevant information that the students who “run” the newspaper should obviously have; and make an unequivocal written promise to the student body that the university will no longer attempt to exercise any control over the editorial content or personnel decisions of the Daily Trojan. It is essential that Daily Trojan editors and writers know that they are not beholden to the administration, and any suggestions from university employees are just that: suggestions, not orders. This line has been blurred far too often in the past, and now is the time to clarify matters and remind everyone, including yourselves, of the newspaper’s independence as a student-run entity.
I urge you to take the steps I have suggested promptly, and not to form a “committee” or “task force” to “study” them until the problem goes away. Too often, USC’s administration has used the inevitable turnover rate of student leadership to “wait out” controversies. This time around, I implore you to do the right thing. This alumnus, for one, will be watching.
If you are unwilling to take the steps I have suggested, or similar steps that would truly ensure the Daily Trojan’s independence, I sincerely hope the newspaper’s staff will revolt en masse and take their journalistic talents elsewhere. If they do not, they may want to change the newspaper’s masthead motto from “Daily Trojan: Student Newspaper of the University of Southern California” to “Daily Trojan: Administrative Mouthpiece of the University of Southern California.” It would be a more apt slogan, under the circumstances.
As an alumnus, I have recently received several solicitations for contributions to various university funds. You can rest assured I will not be donating any money to USC, or any department thereof, until this matter is satisfactorily resolved.
B.A., Print Journalism and Political Science, USC Class of 2003
(now a third-year law student at Notre Dame, hence the bloy [at] nd.edu e-mail address)