Athens Banner-Herald | Grady NewSource
Charles Russell resigned from the board of University of Georgia student paper The Red & Black Tuesday, following the resignation of board member Ed Stamper. Russell released a statement (I have never covered a story that involved so many people issuing statements) saying “I cannot in my mind — and will not in my heart — be a party to what you are about to do as a board today.” It’s not clear what Russell is referring to, but the board announced in — what else? — a statement Monday that it had rehired the paper’s managing editor and editor. Russell was not among the board members whose name appeared at the foot of that statement.
Russell also called for Kent Middleton, the head of the university’s journalism department, to step down because he has a “conflict of interest which cannot be resolved in any other way.” Middleton had no comment for the journalism school’s news service.
On Tuesday Russell replied via Facebook to an interview request I’d sent him when the Red & Black’s staff first walked out last week following a dispute over editorial authority with its board, which like the paper is independent of the university. “You guys and everyone else missed the story here,” Russell wrote. He did not reply to a follow-up question asking what story Poynter and everyone else missed.
In a Facebook post at the time of the walkout, Russell wrote:
Last year, the leadership insisted—and the students embarked—on a bold move to digital-first. That move also included abandonment of the daily student newspaper that generations of UGA students, faculty and staff have come to expect; and a move to publication of a weekly format in print that was largely unsuccessful in filling that need. What we’ve done at the board level, is authorize significant new expenditures from reserves to more fully deliver on our training mission, by providing the support staff to help the students learn how to juggle multiple media initiatives successfully—all while staying focused on why they’re in Athens in the first place: to get their education. Will we get everything right as a board, as permanent staffers, or as students? Probably not. But with a broad and supportive family of current and former R&B’ers engaged inthe effort, we’ll get it done together.