Some of the survivors went online-only; some remained on the air as well but with a more ... managed sound. One site keeping on eye on this: https://www.radiosurvivor.com/learn-more/about-college-radio...
The key point to remember is that college newspapers are generally not independent. It even mentions it in the article. Campus newspapers are funded by the college. It's also college staff who serve as the mentors/oversight, the college provides the space, offices, printing facilities, and equipment. The newspaper may use the college name, motto, crest, or other identifying information. Students may even earn course credit, so there is overhead with academic reports, metrics, and associated staff.
When campus newspapers are pressured by the college, it's not a first amendment issue. Just like HN has the legal right to moderate it's forum, so does the administration have the right to moderate a campus newspaper.
None of this matters if they are reporting on what's for for lunch, but what about when the paper starts to report on more sensitive issues? Topics like sexual assault, criminal activity, HR actions, etc. all carry significant liability and risk. Are they newsworthy, maybe, but even large institutional papers like the Washington Post or the New York Times makes mistakes on what or how something is reported. And, when one of those big institutional papers does get something wrong, they can be sued. Bad/irresponsible reporting has serious consequences both for the institution and the individuals involved.
Colleges treat campus papers as a learning opportunity. That said, If you screw up a coding assignment, it's a learning moment that doesn't really have any external impact. Journalism by definition has an external impact, and of course a college is going to be more risk adverse.
Im all for a robust and well executed campus newspaper, but if they want to be independent, they should be run as independent institutions with their own funding and resources.
I know it rubbed the student the wrong way, but ... welcome to the real world. No one is stopping the reporting of news. Anyone can fire up a blog, website or a podcast. Surprise, people don't like paying for things that make them look bad, or are potentially risky endeavors with little upside.
HN is a commercial web site.
Colleges are funded by taxpayer dollars, charitable donations, and student tuition. Colleges claim to grant academic freedom, part of which is free speech.
Would you be comfortable paying taxes for an NSF who than funds universities who use that money to fabricate research and cover it up? Lying is not a crime, and as you pointed out, there are many forms of hiding information which aren't illegal.
What if the university is directly run by the state, as many are?
First, there is no such thing as academic freedom in the US Constitution.
As for the NSF example, lying IS a crime depending on the circumstances. So is fraud. In the case of an NSF Grant, it can be a federal crime.
One of my key frustrations when talking about this is the complete lack of understanding of free speech issues in the US by people who claim to be the defenders of free speech (not you the poster, but certainly folks in the article).
Free speech as a legal concept doesn't apply. Even if you wanted to tie it back to State Constitutions (because some schools are State schools), in this case it is the State institution that is limiting its own speech. The paper belongs to the school, not a private entity. The government is allowed to moderate it's own speech.
That's the point about needing an independent and free press. State run news is the opposite of free speech.
* "Free speech" is a broad human right e.g. written into the UN Declaration of Human Rights
* "The First Amendment" is a short piece of text written a couple hundred years ago
* That text places a minimum bar on what the government may and may not do based on two hundred years of interpretation, some of which may be correct and some not. We can refer to this as "prevailing legal interpretation of the first amendment"
* Finally, even private universities receive a tax exemption as 501(c)3 not-for-profit, and federal subsidizes through research funding and tuition subsidies. Citizens donate to universities in the belief that there are sufficient checks-and-balances for concepts like academic freedom to make them forces for good. This gives the government broad rights and responsibilities to regulate them. We can define what the government ought to do as "good public policy."
For news.ycombinator.com, the government, with relatively narrow exceptions, has neither the right nor the responsibility to restrict the site operator. If Paul Graham wants to limit content to nerds discussions, albeit filtering out anything over-critical of Google, that's his right under the 1st amendment.
On the other hand, the government can and should have comprehensive checks-and-balances around universities. There is a growing number of scandals, representing a growing level of corruption (yes, I understand that I did not justify this statement -- it'd be going down a long rabbit hole). As good public policy, the government has a responsibility to manage that. If a universities wants to exist where millions of dollars of alumni donations are funneled into administrator pockets, research is fabricated, and administrators go to barely-legal Epstinesque parties, that's okay too -- just not with 501(c)3 status, Pell Grants, and NSF funding.
By the way, the government often does NOT have rights to limit its own speech in the same way a private corporation does. Government employees are generally NOT under NDA, generally cannot be punished for e.g. writing newspaper articles or whistle-blowing, and I can get many types of internal discussions under FOIA. There are complex legal boundaries here, and I'm not trying to convey any sort of absolute rights or protections, but those contours are quite different than HN as well.
Some schools are better than others, at different times, staying hands off but you're absolutely right that running as independent institutions is preferable.
Unfortunately, this is probably impractical for the typical college daily/whatever frequency which has grown up with an expectation of student activity offices/funding/promotion/etc.
Some independent campus newspapers exist but they're hard to maintain over long periods of time and probably depend on unique circumstances. It is possible but it's the exception. (Source: I've been on the board of one.)
Nobody disputes that. At the end of the day, the university has the right to do as it wishes with its college newspaper. It can discipline or threaten student reporters, it can close the paper, it can do as it likes.
In my mind, the issue is: should universities exercise those legal rights? Would it be right, according to the standards they claim to uphold?
Liebson was reporting on a faculty senate meeting. Since I've served on my own university's faculty senate, I can tell you what they're like: they're boring, there are lots of people there (who usually aren't paying close attention), the doors will be unlocked and no one is paying attention to who is going in or out. In other words, what Liebson learned was more or less public information.
Now, to Stony Brook's credit, it doesn't seem like they went nuclear. Someone in charge of PR tried to silence her, but failed, and apparently didn't follow up in any serious way. Indeed, Liebson reported not only on the senate meeting, but also on her own experience with Stony Brook's PR:
They could have coerced her silence, and didn't. (It may be that Media Relations tried, and didn't get the backing of others in the university.) So hats off to them -- at least in part.
I apologize for being so negative. But, at the end of the day, I confess to having very little sympathy for universities fretting so much about "liability and risk". A lawsuit is very unlikely, and if one does occur, then Stony Brook has a nine figure endowment in the bank. (And big university lawsuits generally involve grossly unethical and/or wantonly stupid behavior on the part of somebody powerful. The recent Oberlin lawsuits, as well as the Sandusky and Nassar cases, seem to be representative examples.)
Stony Brook runs a journalism school. They should have the courage to allow their students to practice journalism.
It seems like an interesting variant of the Streisand effect is at work here: nowadays, if you piss off powerful administrators simply by reporting facts, this can earn you nationwide attention. Which gives would-be journalists have a powerful incentive to do exactly that.
Universities are funded by a mixture of taxpayer dollars, tuition, and charitable donations. Journalism acts as a check-and-balance against crime, corruption, embezzlement, sexual harassment, discrimination, data fabrication, and a slew of other issues.
When transparency disappears, all of those increase.
I'm not disputing the threat and intimidation factor, I'm just saying there is also a countervailing force. In particular, any "media relations officer" who tries to pull this kind of shit is also taking a big risk.
I got my first real job in design at Illini Media, the then-independent and now it’s-complicated publisher at the University of Illinois. Working on a deadline, communicating with client, solving bonkers print issues, in the end I think it taught me a lot more than school itself did. (You know what I’m not nostalgic for? Newsprint dot gain. Like printing on toilet paper.)
Why would they be banned from advertising bars? They're just local businesses.
I am wondering how hard it would be to disentangle at least the distribution part of the student press from administrative concerns.
That's the beauty of technology. 15 years ago doing this without the schools help would have been difficult. Between the internet, smartphones, and modern software tools building an actual free press is within reach of lots of people.
In hindsight, it would be nice to see academic institutions help set up these kinds of projects rather then fund their own. Teach the tooling and the process rather than produce the product.