It’s time to reflect upon a free press

It’s sad but true that most people do not concern themselves with an issue unless it directly affects them. This gives those in power the ability to take things into their own hands and manage them in whatever manner they see fit.

Freedom of the press is a prime example of such a situation. The media, those directly involved with the First Amendment on a day-to-day basis, have for years fought a continuing battle with public officials over what information the public should be exposed to. The media types want to tell all—the good and the bad. The public officials want only good things told to the public. The public seldom gets involved in the battle.

College newspapers are no exception to the rule. A recent study of 17 college newspapers in the country revealed that each paper has recently undergone censorship problems, whether it be by the administration, the student government, governing boards or by individual faculty members.

It is pathetic that 16 out of the 17 newspapers with problems concerning control over editorial content did not publicize their situations—most likely because they were being closely watched by those who were censoring them in the first place.

The one newspaper that did bring the issue to the public was The Northern Star. Soon, the battle between the Star and former NIU president Clyde Wingfield gained national attention. Newspapers and radio and television stations ran stories about Wingfield’s supposed attempt to control the content of the Star by ridding the paper of its 16-year adviser, Jerry Thompson.

And the battle is not over. Although the messy situation contributed to Mr. Wingfield’s resignation, the long-term effects of the former president’s adverse attacks on the Star will linger forever. All reporters aware of the ordeal will keep the situation tucked away in the back of their minds, and will think twice about writing a story that might not agree with the big shots in Lowden Hall.

January is Freedom of the Campus Student Press Month. It is an attempt to open the eyes and ears of the public to a problem that persists. At least it does for 17 college newspapers in the country—including your own.