Saturday afternoon the SPLC had the privilege of honoring The Daily Helmsman and its editor-in-chief, Chelsea Boozer, who are this year’s College Press Freedom Award winners.
Over the last few months, Boozer and Helmsman managing editor Christopher Whitten endured repeated harassment by campus police at the University of Memphis for the paper’s reporting about campus rapes and their criticism of the police department’s failure to notify students in a timely manner.
Then, the paper successfully fought back an attempt by a student fee committee to cut the paper’s budget by 33 percent — disproportionate with cuts to student organizations, and in response to some committee members’ dislike of the paper’s coverage. An investigation initiated by the school’s president, at the paper’s insistence, found the cuts were content-motivated, and resulted in the paper’s funding being restored. Now, Boozer and the paper are fighting to insulate the paper financially from university interference.
Before Boozer accepted the award at the National College Media Convention in Chicago, she sat down with the SPLC to talk about her experience: