The day after they resigned, student staffers for The Red & Black met with the nationally acclaimed University of Georgia newspaper's board of directors Thursday, but both sides are still looking for common ground.
Polina Marinova, who resigned as editor-in-chief, said the board crafted new policies that minimize students' influence over content, such as calling on a nonstudent editorial director to review material before it is published. Previously, students had final approval and an adviser provided critiques after publication, she said.
"This is supposed to be a student-run newspaper but this showed me student input was going to be diminished," Marinova said Thursday.
Marinova didn't know if she will return to the paper. After she and others met with board members Thursday the students said they "will continue to independently produce student-sourced, student-written, student-designed and student-approved content covering the University of Georgia and the Athens community."
The Red & Black is an independent nonprofit operation separate from the UGA administration. The paper has its own volunteer board of directors, of which Atlanta Journal-Constitution Publisher Amy Glennon is a member.
The board and publisher Harry Montevideo said the newspaper remains an independent student media organization and students will collaborate with recently hired professional staff on content, quality and other issues.
"I am convinced what we are doing will make this a greater learning environment for students," Montevideo told the AJC.
As students come and go, Montevideo said, it's important to have someone to maintain continuity of standards and accountability.
"The editorial director is charged with helping students make smart content decisions prior to publication, particularly on stories which involve issues of libel or standards of quality and ethics," the board statement said. "It is not, nor has it ever been the intention of the board to censor student content."
Professors, alumni and journalists around the country have rallied around the student staffers. Many supporters focused their ire on a draft memo from the board that suggests a "balance of good and bad" stories and that when in doubt content should "have more GOOD than BAD." Former staffers posted the document on their Red and Dead blog.
The board scheduled an open house Friday and Montevideo said he fully expects to find students who will want to work for the paper. He said the board is trying to put in place standards and guidelines found in most news organizations.
Marinova agreed the paper must adapt, but said the board "didn't have to change so quickly and do it without consulting any students."
Many journalism students work at the paper for experience. It receives no direct support from the university.
UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said school officials are "watching the developments at the Red & Black with interest." He said they trust the board and students "will be able to work out their differences for the good of the Red & Black and the university."
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