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1st Amendment or Journalistic Mess Up?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=78048

The CSU (Colorado State University) student run newspaper ran an editorial last week after the taser incident in Florida that read:

Taser this...

F--- BUSH!

Of course, the expletive was spelled out. The second line was printed twice the size of a normal headline.

The editor of the newspaper (a CSU student) is citing his First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of the press. The opposition is saying that it was just plain irresponsible to approve and print such an editorial.

First of all, I don't even understand what point he was trying to make, except that he and his staff blame Bush for everything. The incident in Florida was at a JOHN KERRY speech. How is that Bush's fault?

Second, I don't care what he or his staff think about Bush. He could have printed the same thing about Hillary Clinton and my feelings would be the same. With one word, he has destroyed any and all journalistic credibility of himself, his staff, and the paper itself. He took the cheap and lazy way out in making a point. Vulgarity does not have a place in true journalism. There are other, better, and more eloquent ways of making the exact same point.

I think he should be fired, hands down. Not because of who the profanity was directed at, but that it was printed at all.
post #2 of 21
The paper can print what ever they want, and the kid can use any language that he wants. Should he be fired? Well, he directed a profanity at the president who had nothing to do with the tasering of a student at a John Kerry speech. He should have to go back to journalism class and figure out that it's best to direct your anger toward the right person or institution.

As for using profanity in journalism there is a time and place for it. It should be used only when the point can't be made by using any other form of language.
post #3 of 21
I don't know what his point was either... I mean, I'm all for the phrase being on the front page but in a context that actually makes sense.

College newspapers are in a strange void somewhere between being actual media and being a school paper. If they're meant to be the voice of the school, it was inappropriate. If, however, they're declared 'independent' like most college papers, they can say whatever they want.

I don't mind profanity, myself, and especially in a college newspaper. Is it professional? No. Is it audience appropriate? Maybe. That's up to the students of the school to decide, because how many other people read that paper regularly?
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
One thing that isn't in that article is that there are standards that the newspaper has, and apparently one of them (I heard this on the radio, so I don't have a source) is not to use profane or vulgar language.

Legally, yes, the newspaper can print anything it wants. Legally, you can print any profanity as large as you want. But there is a point of integrity that, I believe, was stomped on.

The fact that advertisers are pulling out tells me a lot. For the first time in many, many years, the newspaper was printed in black and white this week because they couldn't afford color. They may have to cut positions from the staff. This is a financial issue to the newspaper. That kid needed a bit of education on business before pulling a stunt like this.

In any other business, if you did something stupid (or made the decision to do something stupid) that cost your company thousands of dollars, and directly led to employee cuts, I would think there wouldn't be any argument that you should be fired. Especially if you're talking about a company with less than 100 employees total. The only reason this is an issue is because it was a business of the newspaper press, IMO.
post #5 of 21
The student newspaper may have more than financial problems as a result of such unprofessional behavior. I was at university when Hinckley tried to kill Reagan. Some idiot at our university newspaper wrote an article stating, "My first thought was, I hope he dies." Our university was soon crawling with feds, so so much for freedom of speech.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
The student newspaper may have more than financial problems as a result of such unprofessional behavior. I was at university when Hinckley tried to kill Reagan. Some idiot at our university newspaper wrote an article stating, "My first thought was, I hope he dies." Our university was soon crawling with feds, so so much for freedom of speech.
If the Feds came after everyone who said that about Bush, 1/2 the country would be locked up! Including 1/2 of the active posters right here in IMO.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
If the Feds came after everyone who said that about Bush, 1/2 the country would be locked up! Including 1/2 of the active posters right here in IMO.
True. The story we got back then was that Nancy Reagan was so upset that she demanded action. No plot was discovered, so it died down after a few weeks.
post #8 of 21
The right of free speech has more to do with the free expression of ideas, beliefs, opinions and so forth. That can be accomplished without using the F word (or any other four-letter words.) The university has every right to prohibit that kind of language in its paper and on its campus. If the kid wants to curse, let him go out on the street and do it in the gutter.
post #9 of 21
I just remembered there was a similar case here in Wisconsin at Marquette University in Milwaukee within the last couple of years. It went to court and the court ruled that the university had the right to restrict free speech on the campus. How about that? Though since this is a "public" university maybe it's different.

But in any case, I agree with Heidi:

Quote:
With one word, he has destroyed any and all journalistic credibility of himself, his staff, and the paper itself. He took the cheap and lazy way out in making a point. Vulgarity does not have a place in true journalism. There are other, better, and more eloquent ways of making the exact same point.

I think he should be fired, hands down. Not because of who the profanity was directed at, but that it was printed at all.
post #10 of 21
Fire him,
post #11 of 21
I say 1st Amendment right, now that I've read this article:
http://media.www.collegian.com/media...-2995566.shtml
IMO, their ploy worked - got folks talking about the taser incident. BTW, if you read to the end of the article, you'll find out that UCU bylaws DO allow them to use the occasional expletive, which, according to their article, Bush Sr. has also used in public Geesh - don't people use a thesaurus anymore???
This stunt reminds me of listening to an Offspring song - in fact, should've come with the "Disclaimer" that Offspring used here:
http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.n...25689E000BBB1B. I especially like the part that "if it sounds sarcastic, it is" and if it really offends you, just don't listen to it.
Unfortunately, that certain word is now a part of life in our society; I don't think it's that big of a deal since it was in the college's paper and not the Times or a real paper.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
But it didn't get people talking about the taser incident. It got people talking about them.

And IMO saying that it's OK because someone else used the same word is a cop out. Bush and Cheney used it verbally, not printed. There is a big difference, although apparently with the rise of the internet that difference is often lost.
post #13 of 21
Probably the ploy did work and the other students getting into the debate will surely hear about the taser incident - maybe not many, but more than would have had the bad word not been printed. It's just human nature.
and I don't think they were using the fact that other people have used the word publicly as an excuse - that was something the follow-up article pointed out, for those hypocrites who are judging the editor. The excuse the editorial staff used was citing the by-laws - sounds like they had a balanced discussion.
I think the word got a lot more attention than it deserved - the shock-value certainly has worked. I am sure that more people heard about the paper simply cuz of the offensive word - how many people NORMALLY would look up or even hear about CSU's paper anyway??? And if they looked it up out of curiosity and then got offended, they are like the people in the '70s who would rush to the window if they heard ,"OMG - a streaker!" and then complain that they saw someone running naked
post #14 of 21
The thing that everyone seems to forget about the 1st amendment is that the "Congress shall make no law ...prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". But enterprises, either public or private, can determine what they want to publish or allow to be said on their premises.

If he goes to the trouble of printing his own paper, then he can print anything he wishes.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
If he goes to the trouble of printing his own paper, then he can print anything he wishes.
Yes. That's how the courts have generally interpreted these kinds of situations.
post #16 of 21
But he doesn't print his own paper, he is on the school's paper.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
But he doesn't print his own paper, he is on the school's paper.
And as such, is subject to the rules and decisions of the paper's board.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Assistant news editor Jessi Stafford asked the board to spare McSwane. "We were trying to do something powerful, different about what happened in the state of Florida," she explained.
I nearly fell out of my seat on that from the article. How is "F--- Bush" doing something powerful in regards to what happened in Florida?

IMO since he is a representation of the school I'm sure that there are certain guidelines that he has to abide by. If Bush was directly responsible...then print it the "F" word. However if it just happens to be because he was the president at the same time...well it's just plain silly.
post #19 of 21
I'm going to agree with the OP. Not a good choice of words. Profanity should not be used in newspapers. He has damaged his reputation. Should he be fired... No.
post #20 of 21
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Speaking for the board that oversees student media, CSU faculty member Jim Landers read a prepared statement and refused to comment further.

"We see the editorial as an opinion which is protected by the First Amendment," Landers read.

However, Landers said the board found that the editor had violated the school's ethical standards.

"We feel that it caused harm to The Collegian and to student media. It is our judgment that his actions were unethical and unprofessional," Landers said.
Wimps.
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