CONNECTICUT — After community outcry over a satirical newspaper article advocating rape, the president of Central Connecticut State University has created a committee that review will the publication’s operating procedures to determine how it can better practice “journalistic integrity,” according to a Feb. 22 statement from President Jack Miller.
The committee will review The Recorder’s constitution, the roles of its editors and adviser and its funding model and will compare these aspects to peer institutions. It will then make a recommendation to the university community, according to the statement.
Miller’s statement maintains that the committee is not an attempt to censor the newspaper, but rather is an effort to ensure that “students have the opportunity to learn that journalism is far more than putting on paper whatever thoughts come to mind.”
The committee will comprise university employees as well as students, according to the statement, and a spokesman said the group will include a representative of the newspaper.
Recorder Editor in Chief Mark Rowan said he has not received an invitation from Miller, though he expects that it will be brought up during a meeting between the two scheduled for Wednesday.
The committee was prompted by a Feb. 7 article titled “Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It,” in which the author satirically claimed that rape has been a positive force in Western civilization and benefits “ugly women.” Miller’s statement says that the committee is addressing long-standing concerns that the editorial “brought to light.”
Although he said he does not doubt Miller’s benign intentions, Rowan expressed his misgivings about the committee, which he believes has the potential to undermine the newspaper’s First Amendment rights.
Rowan said that aside from the Feb. 7 editorial, he believes the newspaper is journalistically sound. And since the article, the newspaper changed its editorial procedure, including discussing any articles that are deemed potentially offensive during a weekly meeting.
But, Rowan acknowledged, it is not reasonable to expect these new measures will preclude all objections to content. Two recently published pieces — an article on underage drinking and a column on sex on an airplane — have elicited complaints from some readers. Both were reviewed during the weekly meeting, and editors did not raise concerns about either, Rowan said.
By Brian Hudson, SPLC staff writer