TEXAS — Students and staff won a battle to protect the independenceof the student-run newspaper at Texas Tech University in January, defeatingan attempt by the director of the mass communications department to takeover the publication.
Department director Jerry Hudson proposed in January that The UniversityDaily be “administered by the School of Mass Communications.” He suggestedthe appointment of a “non-student staff” member as a newsroom editor, whowould also teach a journalism class in the department.
University Daily staff members strongly objected to the proposedchanges, fearing they would lose editorial control over the newspaper.Faculty members also objected, citing a lack of information regarding theproposed changes and voicing support for the independence of the student-runnewspaper.
Following widely publicized criticism of Hudson’s suggested changes,second and third drafts of the proposal were released. These said therewould be “no change in the responsibilities, salaries, editorial or newsdecisions by The University Daily student editors or reporters.”
When the faculty of the department finally voted in February, the resolutionspassed were simply assurances that the school of mass communications didnot want any formal relationship with The University Daily.
As a result, the Daily will maintain its present informal relationshipwith the department. This arrangement allows students in journalism classesto submit classwork to be considered by the editors of the Daily forpublication, but the newspaper will retain its independent status. TheUniversityDaily will continue to have no formal connection with thedepartment and receive no direct funding from the university.
University Daily editor Wayne Hodgins said most faculty membersdid not support Hudson’s proposal.
“Dr. Hudson went over the faculty’s heads,” Hodgins said. “He went directlyto the administration about it, and the faculty went into an uproar aboutthat. … The journalism faculty was totally against taking over TheUniversity Daily.”