Reader disturbed about reports of censorship

Dear editor:As an African-American journalist and someone who advises high school students and parents about college choices, I am deeply disturbed about reports of censorship at The Gramblinite newspaper.

From the reports I’ve read, it seems that the paper’s editor and adviser did the right thing when they made the decision to take down the photos (because of) the objections of members of the campus community; it’s something that media outlets do all the time.

However, to have the university president order the entire story pulled smacks of censorship. This is not the first time that the administration at Grambling has violated the rights of student journalists.

This would not happen at a non-HBCU with a major journalism program, such as Northwestern, USC, Missouri, Cal State Fullerton, San Francisco State or North Carolina, where administrators have a “hands off” policy toward the content of student publications.

I have advised students and parents to avoid journalism programs at HBCUs with the exception of Howard University because of a pattern of censorship and interference by HBCU administrators toward student newspapers and journalism departments.

Some student newspapers have divorced themselves from the university and have become independent, for-profit newspapers rather than subject themselves to censorship and editorial control from the administration. In these days of the Internet, it’s very easy and very inexpensive to set up an independent online student newspaper.

I would hope student journalism at Grambling can stay on campus. But I think that there could come a time when students at Grambling, and other HBCUs, will set up independent, online versions of campus publications if administrators continue to censor the work of student journalists.

Harrison Chastang
News director
KPOO-FM radio
San Francisco