Letter to the editor from the editor-in-chief of The Suffolk Journal

By Jeff Fish, Suffolk Journal Editor-in-Chief

Dear Editor,

I was alarmed to hear about the recent amendment that your SGA passed regarding you’re your newspaper’s budget. As the Editor-in-Chief of The Suffolk Journal, I understand well the challenges that come with reporting on a private university and dealing with the sometimes petulant members of the student government.

The passage of your new constitution represents a clear danger to your ability to report on your own student government without fear of retribution. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press and the Emerson student body blatantly ignored that fundamental right by ratifying the constitution.

In an age where, nationally, there is a complete disconnect and lack of trust between the people and the government, it disheartens me to know that people of my own generation are contributing to the kind of dialogue that is harming this country so much.

The “we are the 92 percent” slogan makes a complete mockery of the Occupy movement, which is trying to address serious issues in this country. Comparing it to club budgets at a college is nothing short of juvenile and petty.

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I’ve been following the issue closely online, particularly on Facebook, and it is clear that the Beacon was up against an impossible battle. Proponents of the new constitution used a mob mentality to force through this new amendment.

They made it into an issue of fairness for all clubs, when the Beacon was the only getting harmed in this new arrangement. Some people, who clearly have no knowledge of how a college newspaper is run, simply suggested that Beacon go independent and run on ads.

That is easier said than done. The Journal runs primarily off of money from the administration, which has given us the leeway to report on stories, even controversial ones, without fear of punishment. I don’t imagine the same scenario playing out if our funding was controlled by the SGA.  While we do supplement our budget with ad revenue, the thought of trying to exclusively run on ads is almost unthinkable.

To put it in perspective, it costs about $20,000 a year to print our papers. The allocated eight percent of the budget the Beacon used to receive was not special treatment, it was to ensure that the students had a voice to represent and inform them.

College newspapers are unique campus organizations in that they are part of the college community, but also outside of it. They are there to look at the bigger picture and this amendment severely undercuts the Beacon’s ability to do so moving forward.

To the Beacon staff: I know this letter can’t change things, but know that I and the Journal staff stand with you in solidarity. Stay strong and don’t waver in the face of this newly found adversity.

Sincerely,

Jeff Fish
Suffolk Journal Editor-in-Chief