EUGENE, Ore. -- The staff of the Oregon Daily Emerald vowed to not publish another issue until the student-run paper's board of directors agrees to a list of demands, the editor-in-chief and managing editor wrote in an article posted on the paper's home page.
One of those demands may have been met: Steve Smith, former editor of the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., who the Emerald hired last fall as a consultant, has withdrawn his offer to serve as interim publisher of the newspaper while the newspaper mounts a nationwide search for a publisher.
"All along, my only goal has been to help the Emerald through the current financial crisis," Smith wrote on his blog Wednesday. "I am lucky to have the time and the resources to offer a year of service to the paper that helped forge my career. But I have been too close for too long with the Emerald and its fine student journalists to go to war with them now over this."
Even with Smith's decision, the newspaper staff don't plan to resume publication.
"Because Steve Smith has withdrawn from the publisher position, we feel we're in a position to negotiate with the board on the rest of our demands," Ashley Chase, the Emerald editor in chief, told KVAL News. "The strike is not about Steve Smith, it's about the actions of the board."
The Emerald article by Chase and Allie Grasgreen, the Emerald's managing editor, says the entire staff of the paper signed off on a speech and a list of demands delivered to the paper's board of directors Tuesday night.
Smith had offered to serve for a year as the paper's publisher, overseeing the student editor in a supervisory capacity, according to the article.
That arrangement is typical of newspaper management structures, where editors oversee the newsroom portion of the business while the publisher oversees the entire operation of the newspaper as a business.
The Emerald staff, however, want the editor to report to the board of directors, not the publisher, Chase said. The students also do not want the publisher to be employed by the University, "especially the School of Journalsim and Communcations," Chase said.
Tim Gleason, dean of the SOJC, called the loss of someone of Smith's professional stature "regrettable" and said he thought the issue of whether Smith taught for the school in addition to his duties as publisher could have been worked out.
"I know that both Steve and I were committed to making sure that whatever his relationship was with the school, it was one that serve the Emerald well," Gleason said.
The Emerald is an independent student-run newspaper.
Journalism programs in the U.S. vary in their level of university staff involvment in student newspapers.
Some programs employ students as reporters who report to professors or journalism professionals, who work as the paper's editors.
Journalism professors and instructors at the UO SOJC do not serve as paid editors or coaches to the Emerald newspaper staff.
One of the Emerald staff complaints was that Smith wanted to serve as an adjunct instructor at the UO School of Journalism and Communications while serving as publisher. Some journalism classes at the UO are taught by current or former working journalists instead of by academics.
According to the Emerald article by the two editors, the students won't publish another issue until the board acts to:
- Immediately rescind the offer to Steven A. Smith to serve as interim publisher April 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
- Conduct a nationwide search for a publisher, as originally voted at the Feb. 10 board meeting.
- 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.
- 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.
Sam Dotters-Katz, the UO student body president, met with the Emerald staff, who he said have been locked out of their offices in the Erb Memorial Union.
"We are the allocators of a great deal of money to the Emerald," Dotters-Katz told KVAL News. "We also have a huge vested interest in making sure that there is a responsible and effective campus media outlet on campus. We stand absolutely in solidarity with the editorial staff to make sure that student voice and student independence is respected when it comes to our media outlets."