Monday, November 13, 2006

Independence Daily

Two editors of the nation’s most prominent newspapers resigned last week in response to pressure from upper management for staff cuts as a cost-cutting technique.

The editor of the Los Angeles Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer both quit their jobs because they were in opposition to the cuts.

That made me wonder: What would it take for me to actually resign my position as editor in chief of the Collegian?

No doubt this is a sweet gig.

A consistent paycheck would make it even sweeter, but that’s a blog for another day.

All I can figure is that someone’s gotta be extremely disillusioned to leave a job like the editor of Times or Inquirer.

As the leaders of their respective newsrooms, Amanda Bennett of the Inquirer and Dean Baquet of the Times apparently thought they had no choice but to give up their dream jobs in order to emphasize their opposition.

Talk about defiance. I love it.

So, back to my original question, what would have to occur for me to resign as a sign of defiance?

There may be more, but there’s at least one situation in which I could foresee this happening.

If the Collegian ever, through whatever process, gave up its independence and became affiliated with Penn State, I would have to resign my position.

Is this even a possibility? Not to my knowledge.

But I know that the Collegian’s independence is its most valuable distinction, and it wouldn’t be even remotely the newspaper it is now with if it were connected to the university.

There are both independent and university-affiliated college newspapers out there, but the better ones are always the independent ones.

Independent student newspapers like the Collegian (and newspapers at Harvard, Cornell, Brown University, and many others) always have more potential because they are not restricted by an administration that is concerned with the interests of the university - not the newspaper.

The student body is better served by a newspaper that can focus entirely on providing important and engaging information. Once a university enters the picture you get one thing: censorship.

Here’s how I feel about censorship: The first thing you see when you enter my office is a poster about the First Amendment that declares: "CENSORSHIP: the dirtiest word of them all."

Newspapers are collectively struggling with how to survive in a world that is finding its news more and more frequently on the Internet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that I don’t think newspapers will ever disappear entirely. But they will have to change.

I just hope that change for the Collegian is never to give up its independence.