Dean delays publication of Florida A&M student paper after lawsuit

Tallahassee Democrat | Student Press Law Center | College Media Matters

Following a lawsuit, Florida A&M University's student newspaper has delayed the publication of its first issue by a few weeks. The paper's adviser has also been removed from his position.

The paper, called The Famuan, incorrectly reported a student had been suspended following the 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, the Tallahassee Democrat's Jennifer Portman reports:

A Dec. 2, 2011, article in the student newspaper incorrectly stated senior Keon Hollis was one of four drum majors suspended in connection with Champion’s death. Three days later, The Famuan posted a revised article on its website omitting Hollis’ name and noting the fourth suspended student could not be identified. On Feb. 14, 2012, The Famuan published a correction, but the lawsuit noted it failed to say Hollis had nothing to do with Champion’s death or the crime of hazing.

Hollis filed a lawsuit against the newspaper and the university on Dec. 3, 2012, Portman writes.

Florida A&M J-school Dean Ann Kimbrough told the Student Press Law Center "the reporter who wrote the piece in question was not enrolled at the university, which is a requirement for working on student publications," Sara Gregory writes. Portman also reports a review of the school's media properties "revealed more than 20 of the roughly 100 various group members failed to meet grade-point and enrollment requirements last fall."

Kimbrough told the SPLC's Gregory that the school removed Associate Professor Andrew Skerritt as the paper's adviser because of an unrelated personnel matter.

“It kind of takes the wind out of your sails,” incoming Famuan Editor-in-Chief Karl Etters -- who is also a part-time Tallahassee Democrat reporter -- told Portman.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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