April 24, 2014

VSU President Endorses Model Guidelines for College Student Media

VALDOSTA—President William J. McKinney met with members of The Spectator, the university’s independent student newspaper, and journalism majors enrolled in Journalism 4510 to sign the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) Model Guidelines for College Student Media.

McKinney shared with the group that while he was a college student at Bucknell University he also wrote for the student newspaper.

“It was 1984 and I was critical of the government and the university’s administration,” McKinney said. “I took full advantage of the freedom of the press; for freedom of the press and academic freedom sit upon the same foundation of basic human rights.”

McKinney quoted from Thomas Jefferson: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

McKinney noted that he enjoys meeting with Spectator reporters and looks forward to reading the newspaper on Thursday mornings.

“Dr. McKinney’s agreement to sign the SPLC Model Guidelines for College Student Media represents an important step forward by the administration to support a free and dynamic student press center at VSU,” said Will Lewis, Spectator editor-in-chief. “Spectator student journalists can continue to provide VSU with broad coverage of news and the dissemination of educated opinions, but now with the official consent of an already supportive administration.”

According to Dr. Pat Miller, professor of English, the document states that the university supports the First Amendment in principle and recognizes the legal status of an independent voice as established in the court system.

“It’s important to me as a longtime adviser to The Spectator because it gives teeth to the notion that I teach Spectator staff that they really do have First and 14th Amendment rights and thus have all the responsibilities that come with those rights,” said Miller. “That is, they are true journalists. It underscores my assertion that what a journalist learns in college about the culture of the profession forms the basis of how he or she will perform professionally.”

Dr. Ted Geltner, assistant professor of journalism, appreciates the university’s support for student media.

“The signing is important to The Spectator because it is an independent news organization and relies on the protections of the law and the constitution to fulfill its mission,” said Geltner, who serves as Spectator adviser. “The president’s official support of the rights of student media is essential to The Spectator because it shows the university’s acknowledgement of the importance of the work the editors and reporters do for the VSU community.”