By JOSHUA SHARP, Dec. 1, 2006
The administrator who previously blocked the former Daily Trojan editor-in-chief’s re-election to the job said he would not veto the nomination again if it came to him after today’s special election.
Michael Jackson, vice president of student affairs, spoke during an open forum for Daily Trojan staff members in Topping Student Center yesterday.
More than 30 people attended, including Daily Trojan staff members, faculty from the School of Journalism and employees from Student Affairs.
“I’m clearly open to moving forward and talking about this,” Jackson said, calling for a “healthy respect for the process that is in place.”
Jackson sparked an outcry from students, faculty and alumni when he refused to present Zach Fox’s nomination to the Media Board for approval.
Fox was the fall 2006 editor-in-chief until he resigned in response to Jackson’s refusal. Daily Trojan staff members had re-elected Fox to a second term by a vote of 37-21.
The Media Board, an advisory committee composed of faculty and students, reviews all editor-in-chief nominees.
Jackson acknowledged some people were discussing the possibility of electing Fox as a write-in candidate during today’s special election, and said if Fox was re-elected again he would forward the nomination to the Media Board, provided Fox was willing to talk through their differences.
“The key is that Zach will be willing to sit with me and others and talk,” Jackson said.
“I am,” replied Fox, who was in the audience.
But some Daily Trojan staffers questioned the need for a second election.
“We voted once,” said City Editor Joanna Lin. “It was a legitimate election.”
“The decision I made can’t be undone,” Jackson said. He said today’s election must be held because other candidates not in the first election had submitted applications.
Jackson said he would review the results of today’s election on Monday.
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Bob Berger, lecturer at the Annenberg School of Journalism, had suggestions for all parties.
He said the students should unanimously re-elect Fox in today’s election.
He also said Jackson should forward the nomination to the Media Board and the Media Board should ratify the nomination.
Finally, Berger said Fox should stay and work out any differences.
“I was here when the Media Board was created,” he said, adding he was on the board for twenty years.
The intent was for the publishers to have a representative, for example in cases of libel, Berger said.
Even then, many people did not want the Media Board to be created, he said.
Jackson said he had no intent to censor the paper or limit its editorial freedom, adding that administrators have almost never attempted to influence a story or prevent one from running.
“One of the strongest editorial decisions we make is selecting our editor-in-chief,” Lin said.
“You have, in effect, censored our entire semester,” she added.
Fox’s nomination was rejected because he proposed changes that were “too abrupt” and broke from the editor-in-chief’s traditional duties, Jackson said.
The editor-in-chief needs to be in the office daily, he said.
Fox said that under his plan the editor-in-chief would still be in the office daily, but not from 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. every night.
That schedule is too difficult to maintain when combined with classes and other responsibilities, he said.
Fox approached Jackson in October with concerns about the Daily Trojan budget, Jackson said.
A task force created by Jackson to review those concerns is scheduled to complete its report on Dec. 8, he said.
Jackson added that he would make the report public.
In response to a question, Jackson said the Daily Trojan was a “student-run organization,” but added that faculty “oversee” the organization.
He pointed to other organizations on campus which include professionals working with students, such as KSCR radio and the Trojan Vision television station.
The Board of Trustees is the owner of the Daily Trojan, and it has delegated responsibilities to the university president who has delegated them to me, Jackson said.
While he doesn’t want to “curtail the creativity” of the paper, Jackson said he was opposed to Fox’s desire to “radically change the job” in a matter of days.
He advised students voting today to vote for the person to carry out the duties of the office.
“I’m not opposed to change,” he said.
Lifestyle Editor Derek Peters said he was concerned momentum for specific changes would fade if they were implemented over multiple semesters.
Some processes can be slow, Jackson said, but he cautioned against rapid restructuring of senior editor positions.
The special election for next semester’s editor-in-chief will be held today at 12 p.m. in the Daily Trojan office. Absentee ballots are available from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Student Union Room 404.
The meeting will include platform statements from each of the candidates, followed by a vote.
At the end of the meeting, Jackson mentioned one choice he could have made differently.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted your resignation,” he said to Fox.
Editor’s note: Joshua Sharp is a staff writer for the Daily Trojan and attended Thursday’s meeting. This article is an independently written article for the purposes of historical documentation and is not attributed to, endorsed by or written with the consent of the Daily Trojan newspaper in any way.