January 24, 2013

SPJ | Student Press Law Center | Maynard Institute
Florida A&M University asked the editor of its student paper, The Famuan, to reapply for his job — then denied him the post, Michael Koretzky reports. The university had previously delayed the planned January start of publication following a lawsuit, after which the students began to publish online.

Karl Etters told Koretzky that the paper’s adviser told him “my answer about holding the administration accountable and publishing ‘negative’ stories as she called it — which I did not say in the interview — was not in the vision of the paper.”

To me it seems like this was all a ruse to put somebody else as editor,” Etters told Sara Gregory of the Student Press Law Center. Ann Kimbrough, dean of the university’s journalism school, replied only “Thank you” in an email from SPLC requesting comment. The paper’s advisor, Kanya Stewart, didn’t reply to Koretzky.

The story actually manages to get weirder: Gregory writes that Kimbrough accused the students who started the online publication of plagiarizing from the law center. After the students issued a statement calling the schools’ action’s “ungrounded and arbitrary,” “Kimbrough contacted the SPLC multiple times asking whether that statement’s first sentence had been taken without attribution from the SPLC,” Gregory writes. “Kimbrough said a student told her that the wording ‘originated from your staff.’ “

Both the SPLC and Etters denied the wording originated with the SPLC.

Florida A&M professor Valerie White tells Richard Prince “The decision to delay the first issue of The Famuan was made in an effort to preserve The Famuan, but a few students made it about them instead of seeing the big picture.”

An alliance does appear to be developing between Famuan journalists and people involved with the University of Georgia independent student paper The Red & Black, where students staged a walkout last year and got their jobs back after reapplying. Former Red and Black editors wished him luck via Twitter when he reapplied, and University of Georgia journalism professor Barry Hollander commented on Koretzky’s piece, calling FAMU’s actions “Sickening.”

Previously: Dean delays publication of Florida A&M student paper after lawsuit | Following administrative action, Florida A&M students publish news online

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
More by Andrew Beaujon

More News

Back to News