The NABJ Statement Regarding Student Press Freedoms and Student Journalists at The Gramblinite
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Posted by: Veronique Dodson
Statement by National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Regarding Student Press Freedoms and Student Journalists at Grambling State University’s The Gramblinite
Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2013) —
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is troubled by the
adversarial pattern that persists between administrators and student
media at American colleges and universities particularly historically
black colleges and universities (HBCU). NABJ continues to stand in
support of a free and fair student press as an important voice that
should not be censored.
At the same time, NABJ believes student journalists should be unbiased
and conduct themselves at all times by the same high ethical standards
expected of all journalists.
NABJ is aware that the online editor at Grambling State University’s The
Gramblinite was purportedly fired for allegedly using the student
newspaper to report statements from anonymous sources, and to post
photos of some of the University’s failing facilities.
Another Grambling student journalist was subsequently suspended
following her participation in a student protest, sparked by complaints
about dilapidated campus buildings, and also the University’s
student-teacher ratio. While both students have since been reinstated to
their duties, there remains a larger issue around the vulnerability of
the student press at HBCUS that must be addressed.
"These incidents involving The Gramblinite should have been used as
opportunities for teachable moments — especially in a learning
environment — on the issues of unbiased reporting, press freedoms and
journalistic integrity in the Digital Age, but instead have unfolded as
another series of unfortunate events between an HBCU administration and
its newspaper,” said Errin Haines Whack, NABJ Vice President-Print.
With an eye towards ending this pattern, NABJ will convene a Student
Media Council to further examine the relationship between student
journalists and administrators, explore how to increase independence and
improve the state of student media and continue to raise awareness on
Also of grave concern in the Gramblinite matter is the online editor’s
use of anonymous sources in Twitter posts that was deemed inappropriate
by individuals close to the situation. The online editor stated those
criticisms are efforts to censors his/the Gramblinite’s reporting.
"Admittedly there are concerns on both sides of this issue. We are very
disturbed that a fellow journalist, current or former, would attack or
question the validity or integrity of the student’s reporting. As such,
we find it imperative that we not only support and lift up the inherent
value of the student press, but that we help ensure student reporters
enjoy the same freedoms, protections and considerations as all
journalists, even while adhering to the same principles,” said Bob
Butler, NABJ President.
"We will not support the attempt to muffle authentic journalism on any
level — that does not edify what we represent,” Butler said.
NABJ will continue to monitor the Gramblinite situation and situations like it, and will update the membership as appropriate.
–NABJ Board of Directors
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the
largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and
provides career development as well as educational and other support to
its members worldwide. For more information, please visit www.nabj.org.