Murray State forms editorial review board for TV station

KENTUCKY —Administrators at Murray State University last week instituted an editorialreview board for a student-run access television station after the broadcast ofan animated cartoon that one college official called racist.The newwritten guidelines for the two-week-old station, TV-11, require that aneditorial board made up of 12 students must review all editorial, opinion andentertainment-based programming at least 48 hours before its scheduled air time,said Jeanne Scafella, chairperson of the Journalism and Mass CommunicationsDepartment. Ten of the 12 paid-positions are to be filled with TV-11 staffmembers, and regulations state five members are required to give finalauthorization before broadcast. The board is modeled after the studentnewspaper’s editorial board, she said.”It’s not a way of stoppingprograms; that’s not the purpose of it,” Scafella said in a Murray StateNews article.The decision to create the board came after students,faculty and residents of the college town complained that the “Professor Hobo”animated cartoon was racist. A portion of the eight-minute cartoon created bytwo students, Justin Young and David Rothwell, fictionally depicted aadministration mandate to offer a residence hall strictly for blackstudents.Gary Brockwell, provost and vice president of academic affairs,sent an e-mail to administrators and professors in the Journalism and the MassCommunications departments asking that the two cartoonists be removed from theirresponsibilities at the station until the “university administration can beassured that racist programming and/or cartoons will not occur in the future.”Brockway further stated in the e-mail that “state funding cannot be used tosupport racism on our campus.”Administrators immediately informed thetelevision station not to re-broadcast the cartoon until the board could reviewthe program.Young defended the cartoon and took issue with being calleda racist.”At Murray State University there exists a White ResidentialCollege (named for someone, nothing to do with color),” Young stated in a letterto media outlets. “First we meant to mock the name of ‘White ResidentialCollege.’ Second, we meant to point out the confusion that comes betweenstudents and administration on campus. It is obvious, to us at least, that inthe cartoon the administration misunderstands the concerns of the black studentsand addresses the wrong issue [by giving them their own residencehall].”After a meeting with Brockway regarding the new editorial boardpolicy, Young stated, “We were told we would be allowed to keep our jobs, [and]we should focus on delivering more positive messages about the university andwork to portray it in a good light for the good of theuniversity.”Brockway said students should create programs that reflect apositive view of the broadcast journalism department in order to increase itsenrollment. Administrators have considered cutting funding to the journalism andmass communications department budgets if enrollment and productivity is notincreased, he said.”I want the students to be responsible for theirprogramming,” Brockway said. “Essentially the idea is to give the students thatare running the station the method to operate in a responsiblemanner.”TV-11 received other complaints about the use of profanity bystudent commentators during two college football games. Brockway said theprofanity could potentially violate Federal Communications Commissionregulations and is also a violation of a contract with the citygovernment.Jeff Prater, TV-11 operations manager, said in an interviewwith Murray State News that the college is taking steps that wouldpotentially limit television programs by allowing the broadcast of only thoseprograms that give Murray State a positive image.”I’m sort of caught inthe middle of this,” Prater said. “I am not proposing that we censor students,but I am doing that because I am being directed to do that.”Young hasresigned as the graduate assistant with the television station after atelevision show he also produced was held for prior review by the editorialboard. The administration has not offered an apology for the comments they madeabout the cartoon, Young said.”On one hand the classes are teaching thatthe government can not control what is said by the media, and on the other handthe administration is trying to control the media on campus,” Young said. “I seea journalism department that is only allowed to produce public relationsmessages for the university as a scary and disturbing thought.”Young isconsidering taking legal action for defamation and for pulling the cartoon fromprogramming.