Effective 6 a.m. March 4, the news staff of University of Oregon’s student newspaper is on strike in attempt to preserve the integrity, independence and future of the Daily Emerald.
The Emerald’s protest comes after Steven A. Smith,Â an alum and former editor in chief of The Spokesman Review, was hired to draft a strategic plan for the publication — including creation of a supervisory “publisher” position, which the staff believes willÂ pressure editors into waiving control of the paper:
The editors felt that the Emerald cannot afford the salary Smith proposed, and were extremely concerned that allowing Smith to work as an adjunct instructor at the journalism school while serving as publisher was an obvious conflict of interest, for multiple reasons.
An article written by the editor in chief and managing editor stated, “We need someone who has a tangible plan to start making money.”
The staff wants the following four demands met in order to “preserve student control and editorial independence” of the publication:
1. Immediately rescind the offer to Steven A. Smith to serve as interim publisher April 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. (Update: Smith resigned, read his blog post here).
2. Conduct a nationwide search for a publisher, as originally voted at the Feb. 10 board meeting.
3. Stipulate in the chosen publisher’s contract that he or she shall not be employed in any capacity by the University, including at the School of Journalism and Communication.
4. Stipulate in the chosen publisher’s contract that he or she shall not have immediate supervisory control over the editor; rather, the publisher and student editor shall remain equals in the organization, as the general manager and student editor currently are.
The full article and text of the speech the editors presented to the Board of Directors is here.
Twitter updates related to the strike (#ODEstrike) are here.