Editorial: All college media should be public forums

While school administrators and student government officials may disagree, college media outlets continue to remain viable and legitimate news organizations on campuses across the nation.

Not only do they provide laboratory-type environments where student journalists can gain real-world experience, they also report on university activities that other newspapers might not otherwise have the resources to cover.

Consider the Chicago Tribune routinely reporting on NIU’s Board of Trustees or Student Association. Multiply this by every college campus in the state, and an obvious question of logistics arises.

This is why it was so important when Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the College Campus Press Act on Aug. 31. In short, it designates student media outlets at public universities as public forums, preventing administrators from exercising prior review and censoring content.

The law also provides protection for the universities, preventing the schools from being sued as well as protecting faculty advisers from being fired or punished for refusing to censor student publications.

The landmark protections this law offers should be extended to all college media nationwide. Not only is it important for college media to exist, but they should exist as a free press without censorship.

For example: A case at Eastern Michigan University, where officials tried to conceal the rape and murder of a student, originally stating there was no foul play involved.

Student media should break stories like this, as at Southern Illinois, where the Daily Egyptian recently broke a story alleging the university’s president plagiarized certain portions of his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.

Without the work of college journalists, these public interest stories may never have surfaced.

We write a lot about how all media should be free and this is an issue we will continue to champion.

With this law, the future looks bright for college and all media – regardless of whomever may not want it to be.