Central Connecticut State U. task force releases report on student newspaper

CONNECTICUT — The final report of a task force reviewing the operating procedures of Central Connecticut State University’s student newspaper has recommended hiring a full-time media adviser, creating a journalism major and providing ongoing professional development training.

Released May 18, the report was the product of a task force convened in March 2007 by university President Jack Miller in the wake of a controversial editorial published by The Recorder. The task force reviewed The Recorder‘s constitution, the roles of its editors and advisers, its funding models and past First Amendment court cases.

University spokesperson Mark McLaughlin said the task force found the newspaper was protected by the First Amendment and outside the editorial control of the university.

“The task force doesn’t change much of anything right now,” said Vivian Martin, a member of the school’s media board and a member of the task force. “Even before the controversy there was talk of some more training aimed at the newspaper staff, a for-credit weekly critique session, and some other tweaks, and that will continue.”

The task force also included The Recorder Editor in Chief Mark Rowan, Student Government Association President Chris Brine, several university professors and leaders of campus organizations, such as the Women’s Center and the YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Service.

“This is kind of an education for the entire campus community for the role student newspapers play,” McLaughlin said. “And it really was a period of reflection for us.”

Also recommended are events about media ethics and the creation of a “student-run monthly alternative newspaper to highlight concerns about The Recorder and other campus media.”

The controversial editorial, titled “Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It,” was a satirical piece claiming rape has had a positive influence on Western civilization and that it benefits “ugly women.”

Following the editorial’s Feb. 7 publication, Rowan said he believed The Recorder was journalistically sound and the publication would begin following a new procedure in which potentially offensive articles would be discussed during a weekly meeting.

McLaughlin said the university is waiting on a response from the president regarding the report, and no plans have been made regarding the recommendations.

Rowan could not be reached for comment.