Bryan College censors student newspaper, no disciplinary action
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:10
A student from Bryan College in Tennessee disobeyed the school’s order not publish a story about a teacher’s child molestation charges.
The private Christian college told the student newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Alex Green, to not publish his article as Assistant Professor Dr. David Morgan had resigned to “pursue other opportunities.” However, Green used public records and also confirmed with the FBI that Morgan was facing charges for attempted aggravated child molestation, attempted child molestation and sexual exploitation of a child.
Although Green was censored from the Bryan College Triangle, he printed flyers and handed them out on campus, sticking them to dorm room doors and public areas in the school.
UConn journalism professor Gail B. MacDonald reinforced the need for freedom of the press, and disagreed with the college’s decision to censor the student.
“I’m not questioning the legal authority of the Bryan College administration to do what it did, but rather their moral authority to do it. As somebody who believes deeply in press freedom even on the student level, I applaud the student for trying to get the message out,” said MacDonald.
The Bryan College Triangle is produced as part of a class, which means that the college has full editorial control.
“If they’re teaching journalism and providing students with credit and coming in with such a heavy-handed approach, such a clear act of censorship, I don’t think that’s what journalism is about in this country. It goes against all American journalism ethics,” said MacDonald.
President of Bryan College Dr. Stephen Livesay issued an email statement admitting his errors, saying that censorship may not have been the best approach to the situation, in hindsight.
“We believed we were doing the right thing to protect the privacy of a man charged, but not convicted, of a crime. We did not believe the school should put itself or its publications in the position of commenting on pending criminal or judicial matters,” said Livesay’s statement.
In the editor’s note, Green said that running this story would prevent a high-magnitude scandal like the Penn State University cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assault.
“Had one individual in the Penn State program stepped up and revealed the truth about the actions of Jerry Sandusky, there would have been no fallout 14 years later. Joe Paterno could have died a hero. Instead, he died a goat. Penn State could have been praised. Instead, they are broken.”
Green will not be disciplined for this incident.