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The Reporter

December 2001 - January 2002
Volume 6, Issue 4

Winner Receives $500 Scholarship
Nominate a chapter member for the Student Journalist of the Year Award

by Mary Beth Earnheardt
Student Journalist of the Year, 1999

One of the most underutilized services available to student members of SCJ is the Student Journalist of the Year Award. This honor has been made possible by a grant from the National Dean’s List which allows us to honor one outstanding student journalist each year. Along with the honor of being the Student Journalist of the year, winners also receive a generous scholarship worth $500.

I won this award in 1999 after being nominated by the SCJ Executive Director, Dr. Arthur Barlow. I was nominated because, as Editor of The Clarion Call (student newspaper of Clarion University of Pennsylvania) I chose to publish a letter to the editor that contained anti-Semitic comments. My decision to run the letter created controversy at the campus of Clarion University. Many members of this small town and campus community wrote in response. In fact, this one letter opened the door to one of the healthiest debates to take place in the opinion pages. The First Amendment versus censorship of mean ideas was the fodder for weeks to come. Many people came forward, and the forum of a campus newspaper allowed them free expression.

As a result of this controversy, the Provost of Clarion University, Dr. John Kuhn became involved. He did not suggest there be censorship of the student press; instead, he suggested that there be an academic forum in which student journalists could come together and share experiences, and in doing so learn from each other. It was this event that led to the organization of the first College Media Day. The Provost put forth funding to make it possible, and while he was with us (sadly, he died in 2000) he made sure that our day was both successful and educational.

We have continued to receive support for this day from our current Provost, Dr. Joseph Grunenwald, the Communication Department, the College of Arts and Sciences, Pennsylvania Journalism Educators and many other organizations.

The first College Media (formerly Press) Day focused on ethical issues in the student press. From there it has continued to grow, and I have continued my involvement.

It was this experience that brought my name to the attention of the SCJ National Council. The Student Journalist of the Year is recognized for his or her contribution to the media. In order to nominate a student for this award you must complete the Student Journalist of the Year nomination form (which is enclosed with this mailing). The form is simple. First a brief biography must be submitted; second, you need to respond to several items which will evaluate your candidate. The third step is to submit a work sample; this may be any work the student has done in the student media. The final step is to request recommendations. Three recommendations from professors or fellow student journalists will do. This process is easy to complete and is of tremendous value to the journalist who is honored.

My plaque is still proudly displayed at Clarion University (where I currently teach). It hangs in our SCJ display case next to our McDonald Award for Outstanding Chapter. I am very proud to have gained the recognition of such a prestigious national honorary, and I have used the $500 to assist with the costs of my education. I am thankful to Dr. Barlow and the members of SCJ for their acknowledgment of my work.

Finally, I encourage every SCJ chapter to nominate a candidate this year. Each of you has a member who deserves recognition for hard work. It is a simple procedure and could be undertaken by your chapter adviser or executive council. At the next meeting, take nominations from the floor and vote on your candidate. Give someone the charge of completing the paperwork, and send your submission to Past President:

Dr. Sheridan Barker
Communication Arts Department
Box 71961
Carson-Newman College
Jefferson City, TN 37760

All submissions must be received by February 28, 2002. The winner will be announced at the Biennial Spring Convention in New York City.


By Bill Ruehlmann
SCJ Second Vice President

Students stared at the TV monitor in the Grill, poleaxed by what they saw.

Playing again was the inexorable image of an airliner moving in a slow loop to drill the second of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Flame bloomed.

There was no time to process this. The students were no longer sitting at their tables over morning coffee but standing six deep before the baleful eye of MSNBC when the whole pile went down in a cloud of hell, the spire at the top plummeting like an arrow in the smoke.

"Oh, shit!" someone said.

It was a cry for help.

And that image too was replaying endlessly as down the hall in Bray Village at Virginia Wesleyan College Mike Touhill, editor of the campus newspaper, unlocked the door to the Marlin Chronicle newsroom.

This day was deadline, and in an unprecedented effort, the Chronicle staff had already put their pages together so the issue stood ready except for the polishing a full day early. Time to tear them up.

Touhill, a senior communications major, had relatives in New York; the lines were jammed.

In the Grill, some numb, some in tears, students were joining hands in a circle of prayer.

The masthead of the newspaper carried a statement signed by the president of the college that said student editors had the authority to make all content decisions and bear the responsibility for those decisions.

Here as elsewhere, the First Amendment remained an important difference between America and its enemies.

Touhill reached out to his staff. A newspaper, he believed, is the glue that holds a community together. Reflects it, informs it.

The father of freshman Chanell Roach worked in downtown Manhattan; he would be all right. The daughter of psychology professor Margaret Zimmerman worked at the Pentagon; she would be all right.

Others would not be.

"You hear your parents talk about where they were when Kennedy was shot, or your grandparents when they found out about Pearl Harbor," Touhill would write. "For our generation it will be Sept. 11, 2001. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are from, the magnitude of this destruction will last forever. . . ."

After the classes and the calls, the huddles and the horror, Chronicle community editor Kelly Rust and staff writer Courtney Coe teamed up in Clarke computer center to pull together data and quotes compiled by classmates for the remaking front page. Across campus, photo editor Amylynn Coddington took pictures at a prayer vigil on Foster Field. One youth's bowed head was wrapped in a scarf that bore the stars and stripes.

Arts editor Erika Johnson, using an improvised straight edge, sketched an American flag at half mast.

"Sept. 11, 2001, was a day when Americans joined together as a nation to support one another in a time of grief," Touhill would write. "Finding a person affected by the disaster was easy; finding someone to lean on was even easier. The sense of belonging to a community was never more comforting, and for students hundreds of miles away from their families, it was our Virginia Wesleyan College community. . . ."

Opinion editor Sara Steil talked to peers, took their pictures with a battered Polaroid.

"I used to live in New York," said sophomore Marc Brown, "and it's hard to think of New York without the World Trade Center."

The Chronicle staff had found a small mercy in the journalist's role to document in the face of disaster, at once a close connection to community and a temporary distraction from tears.

"I don't want to die," said senior Emily Bowling. "I'm ready for the bombs to start dropping. I just want to find my dad."

She would.

And Touhill would write, "As news spread of this tragedy, a small epicenter of support sprang up on our campus. Residence life staff, counselors, coaches, faculty and students cared for each other as a family would, enabling all to cope with pain. Hours passed before students could contact relatives and loved ones, leaving them no choice but to turn to others. . . ."

By 11 p.m. the stories and the pictures were in and the pages were being remade. Features and sports had gone under the eyes of editors Rebecca Desjardins, Josh Hill and Victoria Scavo, then to those of copyeditor Elizabeth Calhoun. When a computer failed, web editor Linda DeRosa brought it back.

At midnight news editor Emily McLaughlin bent before the screen to put together Page One.

Then and only then did Touhill sit down to craft the staff editorial.

"More questions will come, before most answers," he wrote, "and it is during this time that we as a community and as a nation must unite and prove to the world we are stronger than the ones who would try to intimidate us. It is here that our small community stands tall. Embrace it and each other."

Then he stood behind McLaughlin as she punched in the banner headline.

"Make it bigger, Emily," Touhill said. "Make it bigger."


Journalism chairman pulls magazine off racks at San Francisco State U.

courtesy of

CALIFORNIA -- The head of the journalism department at San Francisco State University confiscated hundreds of copies of a campus magazine last week before releasing them three days later.

Editors ran a photo of dildos on the cover of [X]press magazine to promote an "exclusive" story on a San Francisco dildo factory. The magazine was distributed on Dec. 13, but less than a day later, John Burks, chairman of the journalism department, decided to yank the issue from news racks.

Katie Rosenfeld, managing editor of [X]press, said she was shocked to learn the issue had been pulled. Burks did not consult with her about taking the magazine, she said. In fact, Rosenfeld said, only after a meeting between Burks and four editors, did the possibility of redistribution seem likely. The magazine was put back on news racks on Monday.

Burks, whose department oversees all student publications, said his intention was not to censor the magazine. Instead, he wanted to call a "timeout" to discuss the cover art with other faculty members, he said.

"This was about what the public will and will not stand for," Burks said. "Students didn't go to an adult bookstore and ask for this, they got it by walking through the student union.

"We didn't censor the magazine," he added. "It's out there now and most copies are probably already gone."

Rosenfeld said after her meeting with Burks, a vote was conducted, mostly via e-mail, in which faculty members decided to redistribute the magazine.

Burks stood by his decision and said his only regret was that the faculty could not use the incident as a teaching lesson because students have already recessed for winter break. He also said he would not hesitate to collect the magazine in the future if it contained libelous material or sensitive information, such as the contents of a nuclear bomb.

San Francisco State University has a unique relationship between the journalism faculty and student publications. Since students work on the newspaper and magazine during class as laboratory publications, the faculty retains some control over publications.

The department's policy states that "the faculty gives editorial control to the students, with the final decision-making in the hands of the editor-in-chief." The document also says, "The department chair has the authority to decide on all matters of non-editorial policy, such as printing, accounting, circulation, advertising, budgeting and bidding."

Burks said he was within the guidelines of the policy when he collected the magazines because of the circulation clause.

One of Burks' predecessors, who wrote the policy, said Burks has misinterpreted the reference to circulation.

"Circulation means you have a responsibility to have it circulated," said Betty Medsger, a former department chairwoman. "It's the chair's responsibility to see that the money is raised to publish and circulate, certainly not to repress by withdrawing from circulation."

Medsger drafted the policy and the department approved it in 1988 to protect the rights of student journalists, who interact often with faculty members given the structure of the publications.

"We thought it was important to clarify that faculty members were not to have any editorial control," she said. "The policy was meant so something like this would never happen."

Story courtesy of The Student Press Law Center is an advocate for student free-press rights and provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them.


By Arthur H. Barlow, Ph.D.

Let’s try again—it’s a new semester—a new year– a fresh start.

Late in December I posted letters to all active SCJ chapters encouraging them to select delegates for our Biennial National Convention held in conjunction with CMA/CSPA in New York City, March 14-17.

Now that you’ve submitted your contest entries, chosen delegates and initiated new members, it’s time to take advantage of other opportunities National Council makes available.

First, Mary Beth Earnheardt, 1999 SCJ Student Journalist of the Year, has shared her experience in our lead article. This is SCJ’s premier award, but not our only award.

Enclosed are forms for the McDonald Award—SCJ’s Outstanding National Chapter and the Barker Award for SCJ’s Outstanding National Adviser. Winners of these awards will also be announced at the March convention. There are no entry fees.

These awards represent the best of our efforts—recognizing significant contributions to collegiate journalism.

Congratulations to our new members:

  • Hastings College, NE

    • 4 new members

  • Muskingum College, OH

    • 2 new members

  • Tennessee Technological University, TN

    • 5 new members

  • Northwestern State University, OK

    • 2 new members

The SCJ Reporter

The SCJ newsletter is published once a month during the fall and spring semesters in accordance with the Clarion University of Pennsylvania academic calendar. It is created on a Tangent computer using Microsoft Publisher 2000.

Editor: Mary Beth Curry

Please send submissions to:

Dr. Arthur Barlow
Becker Hall
Clarion University
Clarion, PA 16214


© 2002
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Adam C. Earnheardt, Web Master