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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    From the newsroom: A declaration of editorial independence

    Sometimes the Arizona Daily Wildcat prints stories people don’t like. Occasionally, this prompts people to ask, “How can the university allow this?”

    It’s pretty simple: The university doesn’t get a say.

    The Wildcat is an independent student-run paper. That means that when people fuck up, we’re going to write about it and no one can stop us. It also means we can print the word fuck — we just try and stay away from it since swearing isn’t classy.

    We get some Student Services Fee money, but funding also comes from advertising and donations. We’re on campus, but we pay for our own facilities. We have an adviser, but he doesn’t have editorial control.

    Sometimes a disgruntled reader will call and want to talk to our adviser about why the Wildcat published something. He usually hands the phone right back to the editor-in-chief.

    As managing editor, I will be serving as the Wildcat’s ombudsman, a liaison between the press and readers. This column is a way for the Wildcat to give context to what we do and why we do it.

    Student media should belong to the students. Here at the Wildcat, we’re pretty fortunate that’s the case. It allows us to be the watchdog that readers need us to be.

    The importance of a free student press has been in the news lately since the mass exodus of staff at the University of Georgia’s independent student paper, The Red & Black.

    There, editors and senior staff walked out after the editor-in-chief received a draft memo written by a member of the Red & Black’s Board of Directors describing changes in editorial control, which students felt reduced their say in newspaper decisions. The memo also read that the paper should contain more “good” than “bad,” with bad being “content that catches people or organizations doing bad things.”

    Essentially, the draft memo suggested that content that holds people in power accountable to their actions is “bad” journalism. So the student journalists walked out.

    The reason the story of the walk-out took off on social media and is being covered by several news outlets is because student media matters. It was a bold move. I’d like to think that, here at the Wildcat, we’d do the same, because this is a student paper. It’s your paper, and that’s not a small thing. Here at the Wildcat, we are going to hold people accountable — and readers should do the same to us.

    Think we aren’t covering something we should? Tell us. Hate how we did something? Tell us. Think the paper’s just too boring? Tell us that, too.

    I promise we can handle it.

    — Bethany Barnes is the managing editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at maned@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @betsbarnes

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