Re: “School Paper Issues Canceled Amid Feud,” Dec. 5.
I am a staff member of the recently shut-down student newspaper at Los Angeles Valley College. The canceling of the last two issues of the paper outraged me. Some might take the unprecedented incident lightly. I do not. The advisor to the publication unilaterally decided to suspend the last two issues over a minor schedule problem with the editor-in-chief. The conflict of personalities here overshadowed the journalistic principle of responsibility. I believe that the incident raises questions of ethics in journalism.
In journalism we must learn that our responsibility is to serve the public under any circumstances. Students must learn this from their instructors and adopt such a principle. However, the Valley Star’s advisor’s canceling of the paper teaches us that we can easily give up anytime. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics on responsibility says: “The public’s right to know of events of public importance and interest is the overriding mission” of the publication. I know that there was valuable information that this time did not make it to the public we serve, the Valley College community. The Valley Star, I believe, has a mission to serve its community, just as any other newspaper does. By closing the press, then, the advisor undermined this principle as well as the effort that went into gathering the news articles.
The action sets a negative precedent for future publications of the Star.
I understand the advisor to a community college newspaper is limited to advice rather than taking actions of such magnitude. This matter should be taken seriously. The college administrators should reexamine this issue.
JOSE ISRAEL LEMUS