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Editor Reflects on Recent Battles with Student Government

October 19, 2009

In a reflective new post on her personal blog, Whit editor in chief Emily Kostic at Rowan University outlines her seesaw mentality toward the paper’s recent gung-ho coverage and editorializing about the school’s student government.

In her words:

Over the past month, The Whit . . . has published several controversial stories about our Student Government Association. It got heated. The Montclarion (the college newspaper at Montclair State University who has been in legal battles with their SGA over similar issues as ours) published an editorial supporting us. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Student Press Law Center were unofficially advising us. It was bad and well…is still unresolved.

The controversy reached fever pitch when we published this editorial— a slamming review of Rowan’s SGA and their practices. It was, to use their word, “harsh.”

I agreed with the publishing of the associated article and editorial the entire week up to its publishing and as soon as the paper the news stand and we hit publish for it to go online, I was immediately hit with regret.

She later wrote it was a campus visit by the fearless authors of The Soprano State, a book exposing corruption at the highest levels in New Jersey, that ultimately swayed her to accept the Whit‘s tough love as a journalistic necessity and to embrace the mantra heading her post: “Don’t Be Scared- Question Authority!”

One of the toughest issues student press outlets face is going after its own. A student newspaper is held up as an outlet for students, by students, making tough love or an outright attack on one of its brothers or sisters in arms something akin to a mother lamb feeding her young to the wolves. (After all, according to stereotype, student media should only be going after school administrators!) The other tough spot for student journos: You often have to look the object of your disaffections in the eye immediately and repeatedly after publication. Kostic mentions that she personally likes several members of Rowan’s student government. For student journalists, especially on small campuses, the reality is that those you wish to feature will often be friends, acquaintances or at least connected to you probably through less than three degrees of separation. As long as the extensive, in-your-face coverage has been accurate and not reached the point of simply being piled on, the Whit should be proud of its efforts.

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