Friday, August 17, 2012

Arrogance Versus Idealism

Athens venerable Red and Black, the student led independent newspaper, is having quite a week.

On Wednesday, several key staff members walked out. The students allege the board and advisers are fundamentally changing the mission of the paper. Since only one side is talking, it's unclear if the charges hold true or if they are an overreaction to inevitable change.

My first inclination was to doubt the students. It's easy to say, I was young once, but there is a period of everyone's life where naive idealism can overwhelm reason and prudence. When you are first learning the ways of the world, the urge to punch first, talk later, is strong.

But then I read the following quote from the head of UGA's Journalism department, Kent Middleton.
"We want a strong and thriving Red and Black and I hope the students will go in and make it that way. ... They can't be as effective journalists outside The Red and Black.
What an interesting world view from one of the "adult" leaders in Athens little journalism world. I peer at my twitter stream this morning and see quite a bit of journalism going on. Some of it being generated by 100 year old newspapers. A lot of it not.

Perhaps, Kent can stroll across town and have a cup of coffee with Athens Banner Herald Editor Jim Thompson, who four years ago said,

In the end, then, whatever the media platform, what it means to be a journalist today is what it always has meant...It's not a matter of training...It's a matter of trust.
The Red and Black will hold an open house this afternoon. My suggestion is throw wide every door, answer all questions truthfully, with painful honesty and let go of the gatekeeper mentality. The "kids" may be naive and they may stumble into corners, but at least they recognize the world is changing and the openings of the ivory towers now transit in both directions.

Follow the self-exiled student staff of the Red and Black on twitter at @redanddead815 or visit their website at

No comments: