Spring at the MC Eagle

Previous Editor talks About new "Instructional" Eagle

By Chester Collins

I was Editor of the Eagle last semester. It was a lot of work but I learned a great deal, and felt we had a great Eagle given the resources we had. We all started the semester out very enthusiastically in regard to the Eagle. I had been recruiting friends to participate in the new journalism classes, and was happy we would have a bigger place to produce the Eagle, with more students involved.
When I interviewed Nancy McLelland of the English Department and Lillian Brown, the new journalism instructor, they said the new program would be student run: decisions would done by consensus with the students enrolled in the class. This was important to me, and they seemed to share my viewpoint. (See article in previous issue.)
Spring rolled around quickly, and I headed to Communications 100, the Newspaper Production Class. Our first class was shocking. For one thing, the students would not be allowed in the Eagle production room for a couple of weeks, until Brown decided who the editor would be.
"Wait," I said, "won't that decision be made by the class? Won't this class be democratically run by the students?" She replied, "No, Chet, the old Eagle is gone. This is an instructional program. She said she was following guidelines from the administration of Mendocino College.
Perhaps, you can imagine how this made me feel. My stomach churned. How did our student newspaper fall into the hands of the administration and the new so-called "instructional program"?
Brown said that whoever would like to be Editor-in-Chief should turn in an application and resume. She and her Advisory Board (consisting of faculty members Nancy McLelland, Rick Stewart, and area journalist KC Meadows, Tonya Sparks and George Rose) would then make the decision of who the editor would be.
I protested again, "Shouldn't the students be able to see the resumes, too, and help make the decisions?" She replied again "No, this is not a democracy!"
I then spent hours making a resume to be Editor. I was not chosen and never saw anyone else's resumes. Lillian said her advisory board had picked Will McCorkle.
The next day I decided to visit KC Meadows at the Ukiah Daily Journal. She told me that she and George Rose had told Lillian that they didn't think that they should make the decision and that they hadn't come to one.
In the meantime, I had been sending e-mail around the country, and internationally, explaining our situation, and asking how other colleges ran their newspapers. Within an hour I had gotten my first response. From Indiana to Maine and as far away as London, all colleges that responded expressed sympathy and concern. Most of the papers used a democratic process to select their editor.
Several editors of other colleges recommended taking our case to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) or FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). Others recommended creating our own off-campus student-run paper and /or bringing the question to the front page of the Eagle.
I have a lot of confidence in the staff and the new energy at the Eagle. Rather than going off-campus or underground, I think we should bring the issues to the newspaper directly.
I hope students here at Mendocino College think about this issue. Who do you what to be in control of your newspaper - the students or the administration?
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