Staff Editorial: Faculty changes to Student Media raise suspicions

Remember back to the days in gym class when teams were picked? And there was no way of knowing if you would eventually be picked or would be left out to watch from the bleachers. Well, here at The Northerner, we feel like we were left in the bleachers.

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been watching as several changes have been made to Student Media, the Northern Kentucky University department containing The Northerner and Norse Code Radio. Though we didn’t get much, if any warning about the changes, we viewed most of them as good for us.

Then, last week, we suddenly learned that our adviser of 11 years was not offered another contract. We knew that her position had been reclassified and she had to reapply for it. But as the application process proceeded, our adviser was invited to meetings discussing the future of Student Media and even permitted to register for a training conference in July for student media advisers.

Instead, the Department of Communication, which just acquired Student Media from the Division of Student Affairs, created a hiring search committee to look for someone who could fill the role, and after receiving 10 applications, including one from our current adviser, they chose another candidate.

We were stunned into silence, and anyone who has worked around reporters at all knows that’s a difficult thing to do. We couldn’t understand why our adviser was removed without any input from us, and suddenly realized we had no idea what was going on in Student Media.

Initially, we thought the change to our adviser was in response to our content. We felt as if the Communications Department wanted to have more control over our content, with the intent of making us better.

We reached out to the Student Press Law Center, an organization that helps protect student journalists’ First Amendment rights, for advice. After we explained our concerns, they published a story detailing our situation.

After they published, we still waited two more days to publish anything on our website. We still aren’t sure what to think. Major changes are sweeping through Student Media and the communications faculty haven’t seen fit to explain much or ask at all for our input. Instead of feeling as though our professors are looking out for our best interests, we feel as though they’re pushing changes on us without caring what we think or how we feel about them.

Instead of explaining their vision of the future of Student Media to us, they created their own vision, brought someone in to fill it, and then told us about the change. In a department that prizes transparency and information freedom above all else, the practice seems out of place.