Daily O'Collegian cuts off content from Web counterpart

OKLAHOMA — The Daily O’Collegian stoppedproviding content for its Web counterpart, ocolly.com, after the generalmanager, a faculty member, hired a student to work for the Web site over theeditor in chief’s objections.

“A person who is going to contribute content to a student-runpublication needs to be hired by a student,” said Jenny Redden, editor in chief of the Oklahoma State University student paper.

Redden, a former intern for the Student Press Law Center, said the disputebegan when a reporter who had been fired from the newsroom appealed to GeneralManager Fritz Wirt to get his job back. Wirt rehired the student for the Website last week to write a blog, though Redden said she did not want the studentto write for either the paper or the Web site.

“This staff member that we had fired has been hired to contributecontent to the Web site … with no oversight and no editing,” shesaid.

Wirt, who also is the Web site’s adviser, oversees the hiring of theWeb editor. But Redden said the Web editor’s only responsibility was tocopy and paste content created for the print edition and that the editor made noeditorial decisions.

Associate Professor Suzanne Holcombe, who is the chairwoman of the Board ofStudent Publications that oversees the Daily O’Collegian, said that the Webeditor had also been responsible for other multimedia content, though itconstituted only a small portion of the site’s content.

Holcombe said that the problem is largely rooted in the fact that there isno policy that clarifies who has authority over the Web site.

“There has never been anything formally created to describe (the Website’s) function,” she said. “If the editor in chief is to beresponsible for the Web then we need to create a policy sayingthat.”

The board has created a committee to investigate the situation andrecommend a policy that would more clearly outline who has control over contentand personnel decisions for the Web site, Holcombe said.

A message left for Wirt today was not returned.