The story of a student journalist getting fired for tweeting photos and statements from anonymous sources about conditions at Grambling State University in Louisiana has gotten national attention, but it’s wrong. At least in part.
David Lankster, former online news editor of The Gramblinite, said he was fired Friday for tweeting about the crumbling conditions facing Grambling State football players.
But the photos, at least, were tweeted on Saturday.
Lankster told talk show host Roland Martin that he was fired on Friday.
“So David, when did you get fired? What the hell?” Martin asked Lankster in a show that ran on Monday.
“I kind of got a notice about it, I want to say probably Friday,” Lankster said.
Lankster says he got a text that day from a number he didn’t recognize requesting his e-mail address and he didn’t respond.
“But from now-former co-workers who were in the Gramblinite at the time, they basically conveyed what was going on and our adviser terminated me.”
Lankster says he didn’t see the official letter saying why he was terminated and so he doesn’t know the official cause.
Calls and an e-mail to Wanda Peters, the director of the paper, haven’t been returned, so we can’t answer the question of who tweeted the photos on Saturday, but here’s one that’s been mentioned as reason for his termination:
LOOK: Here is Brown Hall, where a restroom roof collapsed leaving pipes exposed. Reports made, yet no repairs. pic.twitter.com/WJBbvUw0sb
— The Gramblinite (@TheGramblinite) October 19, 2013
allDigitocracy reported on Sunday that the young journalist was fired for tweeting those photos and statements from anonymous sources. Lankster said former journalist Will Sutton, the school’s director of public relations and communications, was trying to censor the student journalists.
But the tweet that may have gotten Lankster in trouble ran on Friday and was deleted.
@TheGramblinite Are you serious? "Unidentified"? Really? Step up and be identified and stop hiding, or don't use them as sources.
— willsutton (@willsutton) October 17, 2013
Sutton, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, told Poynter by phone Tuesday that he had no communication with the newspaper’s adviser before the firing.
“Nothing. So I knew about the action after the action.”
Sutton stands by his tweets, though.
“I have high standards for sourcing.”
And using one anonymous source doesn’t meet those standards. Nor does organizing a rally.
Peters told Kimberly Monroe, the paper’s opinion section editor, she was suspended for helping to organize an Oct. 17 student rally to talk about conditions at the school. That event was covered by the national media.
News organizations can’t tweet from their accounts about events that one of their members is organizing, Sutton said.
“It’s just plain wrong.”
Calls to Lankster have not been returned.
But yesterday, Monroe tweeted this, succinctly summing up how the newsgathers had become the newsmakers, regardless of the details.
David Lankster and I will be in every newspaper tomorrow besides The Gramblinite
— ☥[HER]storian☥ (@ZakiyaDada) October 21, 2013