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Posts from — November 2009

November 30, 2009: Chicago-area high school cancels edition of student newspaper

Stevenson High School

The CBS television affiliate in Chicago reported Nov. 20 that officials at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire canceled an issue of The Statesman student newspaper this week, after they balked at an issue that featured a story about illegal use of drugs and alcohol.

Administrators on the review board for the Statesman told the paper’s senior editors that the story was not fit for publication. The story featured anonymous quotes by National Honor Society members who admitted to violating society policy by drinking and smoking, school administrators said.

Lincolnshire is a suburb 37 miles north of Chicago.

Administrators demanded the anonymous sources’ names and threatened disciplinary action, the Chicago Tribune reported. But instead, the newspaper’s editors submitted a blank front page and left a note explaining the omission of the story. Administrators disapproved of the blank page and decided to cancel the issue.

“The Statesman’s publication, originally scheduled for Nov. 20, was delayed because its faculty advisors determined that an article featuring anonymous sources discussing alleged illegal activity was not fit for print,” the school said in a statement released on Friday.

“The advisors gave the student editors an option of holding the article for a future issue so it could be more thoroughly reported,” the statement said.

Rather than redesign the cover “the students’ preference, however, was to leave the front cover bare except for a brief note explaining that an article intended for the space was not allowed to run as written.

“As a result, a collaborative decision was made by the leaders of the journalism program to delay the issue’s publication until the questions about the article’s sourcing could be resolved.”

In protest of the school’s decision, students have founded a Facebook group called “Against the Censorship of the Statesman.” As of Friday afternoon, the group had 164 members, including some identified in the Tribune article as Statesman staff.

Many posts were critical of the newspaper and its choice of stories, but still came out against what they called “censorship.”

“I traditionally hate reading the Statesman newspaper because I believe that it does not represent the common interests of the Stevenson communtiy and furthermore it only appeals to certain criteria. But I am fully against this type of censorship,” one post read. “Although I do not like the Statesman per se, I believe that the administration should not be allowed to infringe on the basic rights of this country.”

In its statement, the school added: “What occurred with the Statesman was no different than what occurs in professional newsrooms around the country every day. Stories are withheld from public view until editors are satisfied that proper levels of reporting have been done.”

Click here for the story by the CBS television affiliate in Chicago.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 99

November 29, 2009   Comments Off

November 23, 2009: Student journalists fear plan will allow administration to control content


That’s the headline of an article by staff writer Michael Edwards that appeared last month in the Student Press Law Center.

Edwards described how Los Angeles City College administrators and the school’s student newspaper adviser and staff are at odds over a proposed plan to incorporate the newspaper’s budget into the student activities department, a move student journalists fear would give administrators an opening to exercise prior review over the contents of the paper.

Rhonda Guess, The Collegian’s faculty adviser, said she feels moving the paper to the activities department is an attempt by the administration to take more control over the editorial content of the paper. She said she has been told directly by administrators that they would be taking a look at the content.

“It’s disturbing,” Guess said. “My concern is [journalism] students will not come to this program if they know we have an administration antagonistic to student reporters.”

Frank Elaridi, editor-in-chief at The Collegian, said he is afraid all content will be one-sided and biased if the paper is moved, reflecting the administration’s hand in its operation.

“The problem with [the move] is that they would be editing all of our content,” Elaridi said. “[The content] would no longer be in our adviser’s hands, it would be in their hands.”

LACC’s president Jamillah Moore said perceptions that the administration is hostile toward the paper stem from misunderstandings.

She said the purpose of moving the paper’s budget to the student activities department is to help them become more financially independent, not to exert editorial control.

“Our goal is to make [the paper] self-sufficient and to move them off the general fund,” Moore said. “What we’re trying to do is put the paper in a climate where they can be self-sufficient … we’re trying to help our people understand it’s going to give them more.”

Talks of the move come after a recent budget controversy, reported in late September in the Los Angeles Times. All departments received an across the board 15 percent cut, due to cuts in school funding. The paper, however, was scheduled to get a 40 percent cut.

Guess said the budget cuts were retaliatory action being taken by Moore because of the paper’s reporting, which “has teeth.”

The Collegian recently ran an article about the school’s basketball team falsifying player information. According to the story, athletes were reportedly given false permanent residence addresses so they would be able to pay in-state tuition, making it possible for them to come play basketball at the school. The article is up for a national award for top sports story of the year from the Associated Collegiate Press.

Moore said the budget, which bears her signature and cut The Collegian’s budget from $25,000 to $15,000, was not supposed to be signed.

“I don’t know how the contract ended up in the discussion,” Moore said. “I was sitting down with the vice president of administrative services, looking at a series of budgets. I had no idea that would be taken and published in the paper.”

Ken Sherwood, the president of the academic senate, said he feels the problem is with the leadership at the newspaper.

“The newspaper adviser just doesn’t want anyone holding her accountable for anything the newspaper does,” he said. “Rather than being accountable, she starts screaming about First Amendment violations.”

He also said the remarks made by the newspaper staff regarding the budget were “absolutely false” and called them “slanderous.”

The tension between Moore and the newsroom began about a year ago, when Moore wanted anyone who was shooting video on campus to have to sign release forms. Confrontation arose again about four months ago when construction contractors told students the president forbade them from speaking with the student press.

“It chills speech,” Guess said. “And it chills speech because students are intimidated by administrators. I saw them; I saw they were chilled. They had to stop what they were doing in the middle of a story.”

Guess said she has a list of other grievances committed by administrators against the paper that were meant to “intimidate” and “censor” student activity.

Guess described another incident involving the president, in a public accreditation hearing, asking any media representatives to identify themselves.

One of the student reporters present, Mars Melnicoff, complied with Moore’s request. She said she was “embarrassed” by the way Moore treated her. After the meeting was over, Melnicoff said Moore approached her and asked her whether she was going to sign a release, or continue to “behave inappropriately.”

“It was totally humiliating,” Melnicoff said.

Guess said she was concerned with the way Moore chided and intimidated Melnicoff.

“My big concern is that I stand up and protect students,” Guess said. “I’m worried.”

Because of the actions of the administration, Elaridi said he and other editors have had to take additional action to make sure the reporters know their rights so they aren’t “bullied” by the school’s administrators.

“[The administration] is creating a hostile environment for the student press and constantly burdening the First Amendment, free speech rights, and trying to create pre-conditions to exercise a civil right,” Elaridi said.

Click here to go to the story on the Student Press Law Center’s web site.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 92

November 22, 2009   1 Comment

November 16, 2009: Collegiate parry and thrust — COC Dean, Signal Newspaper lock horns

parry and thrust

Dr. Floyd A. Moos, College of the Canyons Dean of Fine and Performing Arts, didn’t like the position The Signal took last month regarding the current state of journalism at the school’s new Media Entertainment Arts Department.

The Dean weighed in via a Nov. 15 letter to the editor, voicing his dissatisfaction over the newspaper’s characterization of COC’s “scaling back of the journalism program” following the shuttering of the student-published Canyon Call. The Signal’s election-themed editorial ran Oct. 18.

Here is Dr. Moos’ letter:

Statements in The Signal’s editorial (“COC’s board needs new ideas & fresh passion,” Oct. 18), demand an immediate response and a clarion call for clearer thinking.

The editorial board moralized: “What concerns us is the preservation of a program that teaches young people how to become competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers. The program is called ‘journalism.’”

In principle, I concur with the first part of the statement and in fact would assert that all college and university academic departments (and not solely journalism) be charged with the shared responsibility to produce “competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers.”

Ironically, The Signal’s editorial board did not fact-check with the college to see if what they wrote — “the scaling back of the journalism program” — was accurate or truthful.

Had they done their homework, they would have learned that the elements of effective reporting, the development of information-gathering and research skills, the principles of journalistic writing and the understanding of the need to uphold core ethics and journalistic decision-making requiring fairness, balance, accuracy, credibility are alive and well at College of the Canyons’ New Media Journalism program.

The second part of the statement: “The program (that produces future truth-seekers and tellers should be) called ‘journalism’” is at-best an old-fashioned notion:

Insisting that a program that emphasizes such important values as “truth-seekers and truth-tellers” be called Journalism is akin to contending that COC’s Institute of Culinary Education be housed in an academic department called Home Economics.

The evolution of Journalism into New Media Journalism will expand, not restrict, the journalistic opportunities for COC’s students and magnify the impact of the campus press in ways the paper version of the Canyon Call never could achieve.

The Signal defended itself thusly:

Editor’s note: Dr. Moos is wrong in assuming we did not talk to anyone at the college about what happened to the journalism program. The source to whom the college referred us confirmed that all 200-level journalism classes were canceled and said the program was folded into the Media Entertainment Arts Department. As working journalists, we do not consider journalism to be entertainment, and we believe the title “journalism” is important to distinguish truth-seeking and truth-telling from mass media entertainment messages. We agree with Dr. Moos that all academic departments should be concerned with truth-seeking and truth-telling, but it is journalism that is particularly charged with that task in the mass media world. We have no objection to the title “New Media Journalism,” though we sincerely believe predictions that print is dead are as wrong as were predictions that the advent of television would kill radio.

Click here for Dr. Moos’ Nov. 15 letter to The Signal editor, and the newspaper’s response.

Click here for The Signal’s original Oct. 18 editorial.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 85

November 15, 2009   Comments Off

November 11, 2009: Student-produced news broadcasts are alive and well in COC’s Media Entertainment Arts Dept.


College of the Canyons students who take broadcast courses through the school’s Media Entertainment Arts Department regularly write and produce news broadcasts that are available for viewing on SCVTV.com.

SCVTV is the City of Santa Clarita’s PEG (public, education, government) channel. The station’s programming can be seen on Time Warner Cable Channel 20, AT&T U-Verse 99/Santa Clarita and at SCVTV.com.

The channel is operated by SCVTV™, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides television, webcasting, podcasting and new media services to local public, nonprofit and individual video content producers. SCVTV has served the Santa Clarita Valley since 1995.

The student news broadcasts are professionally produced and informative. While this web site hopes MEA will someday incorporate a printed newspaper like the Canyon Call into its curriculum, is it encouraging to see that MEA’s broadcast efforts are paying dividends.

Click here to go to MEA’s Cougar News Archive on SCVTV.com.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 80

November 10, 2009   1 Comment

November 9, 2009: Cougars regroup in thriller — College of the Canyons shakes off poor first half, beats Pasadena City College in OT

Cougar Football

PASADENA — The College of the Canyons football team somehow overcame crushing fumbles, untimely penalties and a stagnant offensive effort in the first half to claw its way into overtime against Pasadena City College on Saturday night.

In overtime, Cougars quarterback Justin Morales threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Stephen London, and COC linebacker Evan Harrington followed it up with an interception to hand the Cougars a 29-22 victory over the Lancers in a National Division Northern Conference thriller at Pasadena City College’s Robinson Stadium.

It was the second time in as many seasons that COC (6-3, 3-2) upended Pasadena (4-5, 1-4) in OT.

That was the lead from a story in The Signal about COC’s overtime nail-biter versus Pasadena City College on Nov. 7. Also covering the contest was the Pasadena Star-News.

The now-defunct Canyon Call would normally have sent a reporter and a photographer to cover the game, but that ship has sailed.

Click here for the game story in The Signal.

Click here for the game story in the Pasadena Star-News.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 78

November 8, 2009   Comments Off

November 6, 2009: The student-run newspaper of Humboldt State University picks up the story

The Lumberjack

The Lumberjack, the school paper of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., recently ran a story about the shuttering of the Canyon Call at College of the Canyons.

Lumberjack staff writer Molly Lovelady’s informative piece, entitled Student Newspaper Fights Budget Cuts to Publish Paper Edition, outlines the plight of current and former Canyon Call staffers affected by the loss of the college’s 40-year-old institution of First Amendment free speech.

According to the story, former Canyon Call staff writer Matt Ehresman felt that COC administrators were frequently bothered by the student-run publication’s presence on campus.

“They would be upset on commentaries,” Ehresman said. “We did get the administration and security mad about things we uncovered.”

Ehresman went on to say that on one occasion, the college’s head of security outright refused to speak with a student journalist because that student worked for the Canyon Call.

The story also contains some eyebrow-raising quotes from school administrators.

Joan W. MacGregor, who was re-elected to the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees on Nov. 3, was quoted as saying, “Younger people do not support print.”

Assistant Superintendent and Vice President of Instruction Mitjl Capet reportedly told Lovelady, “This is a transition and not a cancellation. Our job is to prepare people for the real world, and not what was.”

The Canyon Call is now what once was — a former mainstay of the college, cancelled because of what school administrators characterized as budget cuts and low enrollment.

Click here to go to the full story in The Lumberjack.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 75

November 5, 2009   Comments Off

November 4, 2009: An opposing view — a representative from Cougar News weighs in


This web site received an email from Jason Galvin, who expressed what he characterized as a rebuttal to information posted here over the past couple of months.

Here is Mr. Galvin’s correspondence, printed unedited and in its entirety:

“This is not a support, rather than a rebuttal…Cougar News is a legitimate source for news and information. We would not ever allow the Administration at COC to dictate what we do and do not put on the air. To insinuate that we do not work to meet deadlines, form relationships, and work as a team is ridiculous. Further more, how many Canyon Call people have been given full press credentials to Dodger Stadium, or interviewed Buck McKeon? We have a full group of students who bust their you-know-whats all week long to put on a legitimate show. Further more, we are completely open to any and all submissions for our website, regardless of what class you are in or are not in. Your so called group is a joke, and you are a bunch of hypocrites. To call for one board member over another because it might help get the canyon call back is, what I call, electioneering. Further more, why don’t you guys put names on this website? We put all of our names on everything we do. I’m even telling you who I am, and how to get in contact with me. You can have the canyon call, just don’t attack the students of Cougar News.”

The coalition to save the Canyon Call would like to respond to Mr. Galvin accordingly:

This web site has never expressed a view that was critical of the quality of the broadcast program in COC’s Media Entertainment Arts Department. To say that we have is simply inaccurate. In fact, we’ve acknowledged that broadcast is what MEA does best, and our desire has always been that the Canyon Call be restored and a stronger emphasis placed on print journalism than what we’ve seen of MEA’s broadcast-heavy curriculum so far. We believe that combining print and online versions of a student newspaper is an effective way to educate journalism students.

While Cougar News may be a “legitimate source for news and information,” as you’ve stated, it still has no online Opinion section to serve as a gathering place for opposing views. This was a staple of the Canyon Call, and its absence this semester is a disservice to all students of College of the Canyons. MEA Department Chair David Brill previously stated that he intends to add an Opinion section to Cougar News at the beginning of the spring 2010 semester, and we believe he will follow through with that.

We believe you would not allow the administration at COC to dictate what you do and do not put on the air. Whether the college’s administration shares that view remains to be seen. Remember, these are the same people who pulled the plug on the Canyon Call.

You stated this web site insinuated that MEA broadcast students do not “work to meet deadlines, form relationships and work as a team.” We certainly don’t believe that’s the case, and if your perception is that we’ve communicated it through our posts, then we sincerely apologize. That certainly was not our intent.

We’re not sure how relevant it is that Canyon Call staffers did or did not receive press credentials to Dodger Stadium. But we believe it’s a fact that the Canyon Call covered more Cougar sports events than any other publication, including Cougar News and The Signal. The Buck McKeon interview?  Kudos to Cougar News on that scoop.

You accused us of being hypocritical, stating that our calling for “one board member over another” for the purpose of reinstating the Canyon Call is electioneering.

You bet it is.

The dictionary definition of electioneering is: “to work for the success of a particular candidate, party, ticket, etc., in an election.” The sole purpose of this web site is to bring back the Canyon Call. The paper gave all students the chance to express a First Amendment voice on campus, and it intangibly connected the student body and gave those who attended the college a sense of community. Using this web site to endorse a candidate who favors bringing back the newspaper is the American political system in action. We’re guessing that’s probably covered in more than one classroom at the college.

You were critical of the fact that savethecanyoncall.com does not list the people who are behind it. This coalition is comprised of hundreds of students, educators, journalists and private citizens who believe that the decision by COC administrators to shutter the Canyon Call was ill advised, shortsighted and not in the best interest of the college, its students or the local community. To list the individuals who comprise the coalition would be pointless. Our strength is in our unity and the firmness of our resolve.

Finally, you observed that our “so-called group is a joke.” The last time we checked, we were fighting for the same First Amendment voice on campus that you are right now. If that’s a joke to you, Jason, then the joke’s on both of us.

If you are as “fully open to any and all submissions” to your web site as you say you are, then please print this one. To do so, however, you may need to establish the Cougar News Opinion section a little sooner than planned.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 73

November 3, 2009   Comments Off

November 3, 2009: It’s Election Day in Santa Clarita … get out there and vote!

Vote today!

With the general election upon us today, we’d like to take a brief moment to reiterate our endorsement of Randy Moberg for the No. 3 seat on the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees.

Moberg is going up against incumbent and board president Joan W. MacGregor. MacGregor’s service to the school and local community is well documented and appreciated. However, she has made it clear she has no intention of bringing back the Canyon Call, the student newspaper of College of the Canyons. School administrators shuttered the paper just prior to the start of the fall 2009 semester.

In an editorial that ran in The Signal on Oct. 18, the paper was frank in its summation of MacGregor’s candidacy: “No question, after 16 years of service, MacGregor has a thorough understanding of the college’s budget situation. But if institutional knowledge were the sole qualifier for office, John McCain would be president today.”

Moberg brings more than 30 years of real-world business and financial experience to the table and is a leader in the local business community. He is chairman of the board of the Valley Industrial Association and also serves on the COC Foundation board.

More importantly — at least as far as this web site is concerned — Moberg has stated publicly that he wants to bring back the Canyon Call. That earns him our endorsement, hands down.

As we’ve stated before, if you’re one of the 25,000 students who attend COC and want to express a written opinion in an open forum this semester, good luck. There’s simply no way to do it.

The newly formed Media Entertainments Arts Division — comprised of the RTVF Department and what’s left of the Journalism program — has an online publication, Cougar News, but it won’t have an Opinion section until the spring semester.

College administrators have said the transition to Cougar News was intended to provide students with what they characterized as an “up-to-date journalism education.”

We take that to mean a broadcast-oriented watering down of journalism. Whether Moberg has any chance of reversing the college’s ill-advised decision remains to be seen. But unless we elect him, we’ll never know.

For the past 40 years, the Canyon Call has provided journalism students with the opportunity to learn and embrace the importance of working as a team, building relationships, practicing proper ethics and hitting deadlines. These are qualities that serve students well once they leave the safety and security of college life for the outside world.

The Canyon Call gave all students the chance to express a First Amendment voice on campus, and it intangibly connected the student body and gave those who attended the college a sense of community.

The Coalition to save the Canyon Call has no intention of interfering with the academic process at COC. We merely want to see the newspaper restored and a stronger emphasis placed on journalism than what we’ve seen of MEA’s curriculum so far. There is ample evidence up and down the state that combining print and online versions of a student newspaper is an effective way to educate journalism students.

Our fear is that COC administration will attempt to use the “online” argument to establish Cougar News as a publicity vehicle rather than a First Amendment institution. This blurs the lines, and it could happen at other community colleges across California once it is allowed to take root at COC.

Please take a few moments to voice your opinion to one of the officials listed on the left-hand side of this web site. No doubt they’d love to hear from you.

No matter what the people in charge say about what little chance we have of saving the newspaper, we will not give up!

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Click here to join our Facebook group.

Now get out there and vote!

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 72

November 3, 2009   Comments Off