The Hawk, an obscure four-page Harbor College tabloid whose articles on the Holocaust stirred a flurry of controversy last year, has quietly folded its wings and faded away--a victim of what the college called financial problems and student indifference.
Harbor College President James Heinselmann said he decided to retire the Hawk--and the college’s three journalism courses--after looking over student registration for the fall semester. He found only three people registered for each of the courses, he said, compared to an average of 30 in other classes.
“With that low level of interest and the severe budgetary restraints placed on us,” he said, “I can’t possibly justify the cost of continuing the campus newspaper and the related journalism program.”
In addition to the salary of a full-time journalism instructor, he said, the program runs up a printing bill of about $17,000 a year.
Storm of Protest
The Hawk, a workshop publication for student journalists, provoked a storm of protest from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and other Jewish groups by printing a series of opinion articles deriding the Holocaust as a myth.
The articles by student opinion editor Joe Fields asserted that accounts of the Holocaust have been exaggerated to arouse sympathy and support for “Zionist causes.” He also used the campus publication to launch a defense of accused war criminal Andrija Artukovic, an official of the Nazi puppet government in Croatia during World War II.
Trustees of the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District censured the Hawk in December for publishing what Jewish critics called “neo-Nazi hate literature,” but backed away from closing down the paper to avoid getting embroiled in a free-press dispute.
Instead, they temporarily brought in a veteran journalism instructor, Mike Cornner of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, to deal with what Cornner termed “a newspaper that is running amok.”
A Bad Name
A month later, in February, editor-in-chief Joe Granberg fired Fields for allegedly giving the Hawk a bad name by consorting with right-wing demonstrators on the Wilmington campus. The American Civil Liberties Union soon entered the fray, filing a lawsuit on Fields’ behalf.
Pending his decision on the suit, U.S. District Judge James M. Ideman ordered the Hawk to reinstate Fields in April--time enough for the 21-year-old student to turn out several more articles before the end of the semester.
Last month, Ideman dismissed the ACLU lawsuit “with prejudice,” indicating that he was not pleased with the merits of the case.
According to Fields, Harbor’s decision to close down the Hawk is “one more trick in a long line of things they have done to keep me from expressing my views. They couldn’t get rid of me, so they got rid of the newspaper.”
Fields said the Hawk’s demise is especially frustrating for him because he sidetracked his plans to go to California State University, Dominguez Hills, this fall, so he could have another shot at student journalism at Harbor.
More than that, he said, he had planned to return to Harbor as the Hawk’s editor-in-chief. A majority of the student editors had promised to support his bid for the top position, he said.
Fields said he is still determined to put in another year at Harbor, in hopes that the Hawk will be revived.
Before that can happen, President Heinselmann said, the college will have to see a lot more student interest in journalism, along with more money in the budget.