Jeff Pearlman

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I was a college newspaper advisor

I am not one who likes to carry his anger.

When I’m mad about something, I write about it. Cliche as that sounds, it almost always works. For some reason, putting anger to pen is my release. Does it backfire? Sometimes. Mostly, though, it relieves me; sets my angst free.

I am angry.

I have been angry for, oh, seven months now. The anger has hung with me; followed me; tied itself around my neck. I’ve tried ridding myself of it—through conversation, through exercise, through positive mental imagery. Nothing has worked. So I’m here, at my laptop, on this blog, writing.

I am an adjunct journalism professor at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. I’m in my third year, and make—I believe—$2,500 per semester. I don’t do this for (obviously) money or (obviously) glory. I do it because I’m genuinely passionate about journalism, and when I think back to the teachers I had at the University of Delaware (specifically, Bill Fleischman, Chuck Stone and Ted Spiker), I recall inspiring men who made me want to leap from my seat and report and write and express and expose and emote. Like those three fantastic professors, I see journalism as, potentially, something beautiful and great. Despite the doom and gloom of 2013, I encourage my students to enter the field. It has, after all, given me a blissful life.

Beginning in the fall of 2011, I took over as advisor to The Touchstone, the school’s student newspaper. As far as I could tell, Manhattanville had never had a regularly published paper. In my first year at the school, it came out, oh, three times. Maybe four. Having attended Delaware, where our paper came out twice per week, I knew (and loved) what a quality student newspaper brings to a campus. First, of course, information. Second, a priceless and invaluable outlet for aspiring journalists. Literally, college writers need college clips to land jobs. Third—and perhaps most important—a sense of community. Back at Delaware, the Review was like its own little ink-stained fraternity. We’d stay up in the office until 3 … 4 in the morning, eating cold pizza, blasting Ween and Nirvana, debating over headlines and jump spaces and ad placement. It became my home away from home; the ugly, soda-stained orange couch became my second bed.

I had been blessed with some wonderful students at Manhattanville, and it pained me—truly pained me—that they were not offered this. So I asked to take over as advisor (unpaid position). And the college agreed. They said they would provide office space and allow complete editorial independence. I told them the paper would, initially, rely on financial assistance from the school (for printing costs), with the long-term goal of generating enough advertising revenue to be self-sufficient. I also told them I would, for the first year or so, work close up with the students, in order to teach them not merely how to be student journalists—but how to be journalists. Everyone was on board.

The first new Touchstone came out in September 2011. It was (I believe) 12 pages. The editor in chief was a student named Marina, a wonderful Brazilian woman who came from a journalism family. The executive editor, Julie, was an aspiring teacher with a magnificent eye for newspaper design and layout. There was a staff of, oh, 15 or so students—strong for a new endeavor. That initial edition was filled with errors and blunders. Bad headlines, run-on sentences, misidentified photographs—and I was as proud as a new parent. The students worked hard. Really hard. On deadline night, they were up until 3 am, eating cold pizza, blasting Tupac. I sat alongside Marina and Julie, exhausted, but also thrilled that, potentially, they were getting a taste of the bliss. A couple of days later I drove out to the Long Island printing press and picked up the paper. I helped the students hand out copies; thrilled by the pride in their faces. This meant something to them and, of course, to me.

Over the ensuing year, the paper came out (almost without fail) every two weeks. There were highs and lows, ups and downs. One columnist wrote a line about, “eating like we’re in Ethiopia” (or something like that), and several Ethiopian students complained. There was an ugly college incident involving racial slurs and a school bus, and the reporters covered it well. Some of the columns were blistering—the food here sucks, this college doesn’t care about us—and I encouraged it. A college newspaper is supposed to be a vent; a place to tee off; to express oneself. It’s a learning tool; a very important one.

Come year’s end, three editors landed top-shelf internships: One at MSNBC and the Rachel Maddow Show, one at Sports Illustrated, one at a Wall Street investment newspaper. I was giddy. Beyond giddy. Another staffer, our sports editor, was hired by NBC Sports. Again—giddy.

I didn’t love 4 am deadline nights; I didn’t love driving 1 1/2 hours to get the newspaper; I didn’t love the exhaustion. But, really, things could not have gone better. It was a wonderful start.

Summer came

Summer went.

Two days into the Fall 2012 semester, I called Marina (the editor) to ask about the newspaper’s first meeting.

“Are you still the advisor?” she said.

“Of course,” I said.

“You may want to check,” she said. “That’s not what I heard.”

I told her she was, surely, wrong. I mean, who dumps a free newspaper advisor? Especially one who helped revive a dead newspaper? Especially one who works in the field and has lots of contacts and loves, loves, loves, loves, loves, loves journalism? I mean, who would do that?

I e-mailed the dean of students.

The dean of students e-mailed me back. He said I should come in for a talk.

Fuck.

I came in for a talk. He stammered and stuttered; lots of “uhhh” and “ehhh.” He said it wasn’t his decision and wasn’t his call, but that the college placed another professor in charge of the newspaper; a professor who has spent the majority of his career doing public relations and consulting. Not that anything’s wrong with public relations and consulting. It’s just not journalism.

The dean told me it wasn’t his call.

“Whose call was it?” I asked.

He didn’t know. Or wouldn’t say.

“So I’ve been fired from an unpaid position?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” he said.

The editor, Marina, went to The Touchstone office. All the stuff belonging to the previous year’s staff was either removed or thrown out. Nobody told her about the change; nobody told any of the students about the change. A new editor was enlisted—without the new advisor ever telling the old editor she was, like me, dumped.

I was encouraged—by many—to quit the school. “To hell with them,” my mom said. “You don’t need it …”

“No,” the wife said. “You owe it to the students. And you love teaching.”

When I told the heads of my department about the happenings, they had no idea. We wound up having a meeting with the provost. She apologized, also said it wasn’t her call, but that the college was concerned about “the message.” What if prospective students, taking a campus tour, pick up the Touchstone and see a column about crappy food or bad policies? What then? I told her that journalism can’t be taught as public relations; that students must be able to voice their displeasure—and pleasure—in a free forum. A college newspaper is not a promotional pamphlet. A college newspaper is a newspaper.

To my great shock, I sat in front of her and my voice began to crack. Again, I told her, I made no money to do this; I certainly didn’t need to do this for my career. It was, 100 percent, about love, passion, developing journalists, seeing them published and, ultimately, hired. She nodded and smiled and empathized.

The meeting ended.

I was later told, by multiple college officials, that this came down to one thing, and one thing only: Image control.

I felt like I got over it. I really did. My class started its own online newspaper, The Pub Wrap, and that was fulfilling. I was told only my students could contribute; that it couldn’t compete with Touchstone. “Compete?” I said. “This isn’t a contest …”

I moved on; emotionally distanced myself from the college (I’m completing my final semester as we speak); tried to love my students without any of the lingering anger. I brought in some excellent guest speakers (Rick Jervis, a Pulitzer Prize winner; Amanda Sidman from the Today Show; Brian Mansfield of USA Today, Steve Cannella and Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated); had the students do a cool (well, I think it’s cool) final project; pushed the kids toward internships. My class evaluations were excellent. I am, I think, a good teacher.

I was fine.

Then the Touchstone came out. And it was brutal. A pamphlet. A PR pamphlet. Awful layout, no rhyme or reason; mugshots alongside every story. It looks like a bad high school newspaper, or a mediocre junior high school newspaper. (For the record, I don’t blame the students at all. At all. They’re new to this). I actually asked the provost for her take. “I thought it was quite good,” she said.

I was speechless.

And that’s when it hit me. The college doesn’t aspire to a quality student newspaper. It’s about safety. Easiness. Why have an established journalist advise students on journalism when you have a PR person advise students on journalism? Why aim for excellence when mediocrity is so comfortable? Hell, I could have helped my students put out a New York Times-quality product, and it wouldn’t have mattered. It was never about the journalism, per se, or the newspaper.

It was about mediocrity.

So now, Manhattanville’s student newspaper is back where it was two years ago. It’s come out two times thus far, with a dormant website, no Twitter presence, no sense of purpose. The clips are—from a career standpoint—relatively useless, because creativity and aggressiveness are clearly not encouraged. I read it and, literally, feel like crying. So much potential; so much opportunity.

So little interest.

What hurts most (and what, I suppose, inspires me to write this) is that this sort of stuff is going on everywhere. Journalism is, undeniably, under attack. Newspapers are closing. Corporate entities are stifling free press; colleges and universities are cracking down on student-generated publications. We, as a nation, are increasingly comfortable with the idea of limited voice.

It’s a dangerous path.

One, come semester’s end, I no longer want part of.

  • Kirk

    I expressed interest in my school newspaper (which was more what you were shooting for than a PR brochure) and even took the one class for journalism that was offered. I was told by the newspaper that I could help if I wanted, and the professor that taught the class said, I kid you not, without reading any of my writing, “Well, you will be lucky to do anything more than write for a small town paper, assuming you decide to live in a small town, but you’ll never even work in a mid-size city as a journalist, so…if you really want to do this, go ahead…”

    I dropped the class (which only met once a week and was cancelled at last notice half the time) halfway through the semester and never went to another newspaper meeting again.

    • http://Sooutthem! C Darryl Mattison

      Please let us know the name of the school! How else can people hold them accountable. I’m looking up Manhattanville’s address right now…

  • The Mighty Quinn

    Oh, Jeff. Man, I’m sorry.

    Also, WHOSE.

  • Kevin

    Tough story. I have a similar experience so I can totally relate. I was the advisor for a high school broadcast. Much like you, I created the show from scratch. For three years, we put the show out weekly to much fanfare from the students and admin. And while I wasn’t “removed” I have moved on and what has happened has been depressing. The new advisor has done two shows – both unwatchable – and then stopped doing them completely. The project I worked so hard creating is dead, and the students have lost an amazing outlet for their self confidence (because performing in front of your peers – especially in high school – is not easy) and a job skill. Very depressing.

    On the good side though, I left the school to continue my education and am taking a class from the great Ted Spiker in the summer. Very much looking forward to it. Don’t let the experience ruin your entire opinion on teaching. I love it – and it sounds like you were good at it.

  • Derf Backderf

    Man, tough tale.

    The J-school I graduated from, at Ohio State University, doesn’t even exist anymore. When I attended, it was one of the Top 5 J-schools in the country, with 40 profs and a 1,000 students. Our student paper, The Lantern, published FIVE days a week, with a circulation of 50,000. Ten years after I graduated, the J-School was folded into the College of Communications. A few years after that, it was no longer even a degree program. The profs are all gone, and the facilities in the inappropriately named Journalism Building now are home to the Criminology School. The Lantern still publishes, a sad little tabloid staffed by student volunteers, most with no training or interest in the field.

    Why did this happen? OSU President Gordon Gee explained to me that Ohio State was devoting itself to research majors, engineering, the sciences, medicine, etc and “lesser” majors would be offered by “lesser” state universities. He had no answer for why journalism got the boot but the School of Dance survived.

    My theory mirrors your own. The Lantern was the primary watchdog of university affairs, staffed by the top-flight journalism students who went on to work for every major paper and news service in the land. Every backroom deal, every screw-up, every scandal, every controversy was covered by the paper, and EVERYone on campus read about it. By axing the J-school, the administration de-fanged its watchdog. What a happy coincidence!

    • John B. Saul

      I’ve mourned the passing of the OSU School of Journalism for years. Never heard an explanation for it until this one you reported from Gee. Makes me even sadder. Graduated in 1970.

    • Johnny Stormchaser

      That sucks. But Gordon Golly Gee Whillikers has proven time and again that he can’t be taken seriously. He’s a clown, a fawning toady, known only for his wrong-headed ideas about OSU, other universities, and the world at large.

  • Christian

    Jeff, I’m sincerely sorry to hear about that. Although it’s difficult to see sometimes, there are places who are committed to teaching and preserving excellent journalism. I’m lucky enough to learn from some of the best at Mizzou. Anyways, I hope you don’t feel like your quest to teach the craft went in vain. A couple weeks ago you were gracious enough to give me some feedback on my work and it meant a lot to me. Thanks.

    • Brian

      Ya, makes me happy I went to Mizzou as well. Easy to forget how lucky we were.

  • http://www.computerconciergeny.com Mike

    So now if any of my son’s friends are thinking about Manhattanville they can refer them to this article bypassing the PR police. If this ranks high enough in SEO it may ruffle some feathers at Manhattanville. That said, I agree with you Jeff. A college newspaper should not be a PR tool but rather a learning ground for prospective journalists. If there is an issue with the administration, food quality, etc it should not be censored.

  • http://templefootballforever.blogspot.com Mike Gibson

    Wow. I thought George Orwell’s 1984 was just a Novel. Mindspeak lives at Manhattanville College. Sad.

    • Harry Proudfoot

      1984 arrived a long time ago. It started with the Supreme Court rejecting freedom of the high school press in the 1980s. Since then, we have increasingly conditioned young people to the idea of a restricted press.

      Now we are doing at colleges and universities. They now produce reporters who accept being imbedded in units and being told they can’t take pictures of flag draped coffins.

      Ninety percent of our media are owned by a literal handful–five–of corporations–none of whom have an interest in anything outside the corporate interests. We have had nearly 300 oil pipeline leaks already this year at the same time we are trying to decide about the Keystone Pipeline. That news is thoroughly unreported while celebrity news clogs the news hole.

      And nobody gives a damn.

      When they came for the Jews, I said nothing because I was not a Jew. When they came for the communists I said nothing because I was not a communist…

      We are in big trouble in this country because we are more worried about image than we are in acknowledging that there are things that are wrong–and that some powerful people put personal profit and power ahead of the good of the community.

      We are walking dead unless we begin to do what we have to do in order to keep our press truly free–and our nation a real rather than imagined republic.

  • http://www.submitstrength.com Drew Kuespert

    When I was a freshman, we took a March field trip to the Indiana State House. As a rite of passage, they allowed us 2 hours of free time to roam around the city to eat, shop, etc. Two friends and I said “the he’ll with that!” and, as “journalists” with our middle school (7th through 9th at the time) newspaper, we decide to “crash” the NCAA Tournament opening round Presser

  • http://www.submitstrength.com Drew Kuespert

    When I was a freshman, we took a March field trip to the Indiana State House. As a rite of passage, they allowed us 2 hours of free time to roam around the city to eat, shop, etc. Two friends and I said “the he’ll with that!” and, as “journalists” with our middle school (7th through 9th at the time) newspaper, we decide to “crash” the NCAA Tournament opening round at the Indiana Convention Center/RCA Dome for anything we could get our hands on. We roamed that expansive hallways of the ICC. We yanked on locked door handles when guards weren’t looking. We tried getting into an employees-only elevator. Finally, we turned a corner and saw a mop-headed old woman in a wrinkled security outfit thumbing through the Indy Star at some sort of post. We asked “What’s going on in there?”Reminiscent of “Momma” in Throw Momma From The Train, she nearly yells, “Press Conference.” We looked at each other, turned back to hurt, stood erect and proudly stated, “We’re sports writers from the Grossing Guardsman, ma’am.” She had a snotty look on her face for about 2 seconds, then shrugged her shoulders and said “Go ahead.” I’m sure we all pissed our pants a bit, but we still weren’t sure what this was about. We walked in and sitting at the front of the room is Ball State coach Rick Majerus. We had several reporters give us quizzical looks as we sat in the back and watched. We began taking notes on a scrap paper that we found on the floor. A couple players talked thereafter and, within 10 minutes, it was over. We were bummed we missed the vast majority of it. My friend, Randy, said “There’s another door at the end of the room. Let’s check it out.” To our surprise, no one stopped us or asked what we were doing. We went right in. Then we noticed, adjacent to the hall we were in, was a practice court. Walking in our direction then stopping to talk to reporters were Pervis Ellison and Denny Crum. We didn’t ask anything. Just listened. Took mental notes. Watched the mannerisms of the reporters. Randy asked for a couple autographs. Soon, they were gone. We turned around to leave as well, but we were stopped when Nolan Richardson blocked our path. He and his players were going to talk to some reporters first before stepping on the court. This time, we were a little more bold, shouldering up right next to the others (Rick Telander?), listening and nodding and jotting on our little scraps. And we had to get a couple autographs. Coach Richardson’s huge hands swallowed up my pen. “Big O” signed another (Oliver Miller?). We walked out like we’d been there before, but we absolutely exploded with excitement when we left the ICC. We told all our friends on the bus, but no one believed us and said the signatures were faked. When we got back to our school and told our newspaper advisor, she was so proud of us. She asked us to write about our adventure. It was on the front page. It gave us legitimacy. It gave us success. It gave us giddy delight. But, above all, it gave us courage. We all used the experience–and the encouragement of our advisor–to stay courageous enough to generally take advantage of every opportunity that fell into our paths, even if we had to create them or rattle some locked door handles. Randy used his courage to follow a path all the way to working in the Bush White House and now work in P.R. in D.C. I became a middle school History teacher and strength equipment business owner. Last month, we went on a field trip to Indianapolis to see a play. Afterward, we gave our kids 90 minutes of free time to roam. While most shopped around the Circle Centre Mall or ate at the food court, I encouraged some to see what they might be able to discover if they went on the paths less traveled. A few went back to the theater to talk to the actors. Others sat down and ate with them when they hit the food court for their post-performance Subway. It was encouraging to me that many of my students have the same type of desire and spirit that I did. But, it took an encourager to make us think outside the box.

    • Bret Yeilding

      Sad story from Jeff and a great one from Drew. Jeff’s story (and many of the others) reminds me of my favorite joke about administrators.

      A blind rabbit and a blind snake meet on the trail. Because they are blind neither animal knows what it is. The snake checks the rabbit out and says “You are furry and have big ears so you are a rabbit.” The rabbit checks out the snakes and says “You are slimy and scaly and have no balls so you are an administrator.”

  • david

    I wrote, back in the 1980s, for my university paper. I was regularly appalled by the paper’s half-assed copyediting and hopeless errors in spelling, puncutation, grammar, etc.

    And when they started introducing errors into my own pieces? I tried talking to the editor about it; he said, well, mistakes happen.

    Not in my pieces, I said. You don’t put mistakes in my pieces. Leave them alone. He didn’t, so I stopped writing for the paper. (I write for a newspaper now, a monthly column; except for cuts for space, it runs verbatim.)

  • http://realitybitesback.blogspot.com Steve Gosset

    Jeff, as a fan of your work (belatedly finished recently “Love Me, Hate Me”), I admire your passion and commitment to instilling journalism’s greatest virtues to students willing and eager to learn from skilled practitioners like yourself. My perceptions of Manhattanville was that it was always more laissez-faire about these kinds of endeavors. That they would, in 2013, so blatantly censor a newspaper speaks volumes.
    I remember the first college paper I worked for, at the University of Maryland, was an independent corporation, and was immune from pressures like these. That might be a route successors might seek to explore.
    I hope you’ll find another suitable venue for your work, perhaps–from what I’ve seen–the more-enlightened realm of Purchase College just down the road.

  • http://www.ErikShermanBaseball.com Erik Sherman

    Very sorry to read this, Jeff. Your love of writing and teaching has always come through in our discussions.
    I believe this is more a societal issue, one where we are actually less free to speak and write openly. We are in a society where everyone is fearful of offending and losing their jobs over how they communicate. It’s kind of Orwellian. Sad. Hope you decide to pursue another opportunity elsewhere.

  • John Jenks

    Some advice for your provost. Given the skill set and experiences students are acquiring they can optimize their career opportunities by learning Korean. They’ll be exactly the type of journalists Kim Jong-un will want to hire.

  • MC

    Jeff, this is a great, if ultimately depressing piece. It really brought me back to the days when my fellow journalism students, some of whom are still close friends of mine, resurrected our little college’s paper. Same deal: Little budget, late nights, musty old couch, cold pizza, arguments about jumps and what goes above and below the fold, embarrassing-in-retrospect errors …

    Only, fortunately for us, we still had just enough institutional support to put out an independent paper, even if it was only every two weeks or so. We ran into resistance from some quarters, of course, particularly from the student government organization and their protectors in the dean of students’ office, and we pissed off an array of campus entities, but we pretty much got to print what we wanted to.

    Remembering all of that only makes me sadder and angrier for what your students and you went through at Manhattanville. It’s a damned shame. Those kids — and kids everywhere else — deserve a lot better than this crap.

    • Marty

      Well said, Colonel.

  • Matt

    Isn’t the answer to a column blasting the food to attempt to serve better food? What a disgrace.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/simon_shargot Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb

    I was a writer and then sports editor of my school paper, the Guelph-Humber Radix, holding both those positions in the same year in 2009. I had a blast working on both sides, and it taught me so much about this field.

    And then, by the time I graduated last year (I had to take a few extra years due to both a learning disability and the school doing things like misplacing my transcript), the newspaper was gone. They changed the program, they changed the professors, and the newspaper is now a website that any student can contribute to, basically when they feel like it. It made me so upset to see this happen. How can journalism students get a feel for what it’s really like working in these environments when the journalism school won’t even publish a newspaper (or magazines for that matter, I’m pretty sure our class was the last one to publish the school magazine). I’m just really glad I got the experience, because when I read stories like this I worry about future journalists. They will miss out on some valuable learning experiences because schools want to save a few bucks, and figure “Well they can write, so they’ll be fine.”

    Jeff, man, the system fucking sucks, but good on you for trying to fix it. I hope there’s a journalism school out there that will appreciate what you do as a prof. Seriously, I read these posts about your classes and I get pretty jealous of your students, your class sounds like it would have been a blast. Keep on fighting the good fight.

  • http://elsewhensandotherwheres.wordpress.com Steve Brisendine

    It’s not confined to J-schools, sadly. I spent some years at a smalltown daily, and for a while I had a column that ran on the main editorial page. (Heck, we all did. It was a staff of five.)

    I did have a good deal of leeway, I must confess — until I wrote a column bemoaning shoddy drive-through service. I didn’t even name the establishments, and I heard a good deal of venting from people who had gone through the same thing.

    And yet, I still got called into the publisher’s office, dressed down and told to have all columns vetted from then on.

    Lesson clear: Don’t irritate the advertisers, even if you’re right. Granted, I know the revenue woes small papers often face — but it felt at the time, and still does, as though keeping the advertisers was more important than connecting with readers and holding up a mirror.

  • http://frombeiruttojupiter.blogspot.com Cathie

    Congrats to Manhattenville. You were so concerned about your image. When this story gets out, no one will want to go there. You could have had a paper that would attract students, but no.

  • http://www.SportsFieldGuide.com Joe Gisondi

    As I read this, I almost smashed my hand through my computer because I know this happens way too frequently. Colleges don’t want anything to hurt their image, which is a reason many schools hide real crimes under the guise of ‘judicial affairs.’ That’s why violent crimes and rapes happen at a magically low percentage on college campuses. Sadly, admins across the country attempt this all the time.

    • Dennis Shea

      Agree that independent newspapers are the way to go. The problem with papers funded by the administration in a litigious environment is that they feel compelled to micro-risk-manage, even if they don’t image manage.

      As for JA, you’re simply wrong. JA operates as a separate and independent system. Students can (and are) both sentenced by a real judged, and receive JA penalties on top of and in addition to what the law provides.

  • Ben Kabak

    Love it. You are ON IT.

  • Whitney

    I was EIC of my college weekly my senior year and thought I wanted to work at a newspaper. We ran a front page, above the fold story with the headline, “Quarterback arrested,” when exactly that happened after he shouted gay slurs at another student from his window one night. We received emails from students, faculty and staff asking why it was made so prominent and why it mattered that he was quarterback. Obviously they didn’t know the elements of newsworthiness.

    I received a threatening email from the recipient of the slurs claiming we had publicly outed him (though he appeared on the student TV station mere weeks before as an openly gay student). Then, at my weekly meeting with the college president, I was kept from turning on my recorder and basically berated for 15 minutes and not allowed to ask any questions or talk about anything else. The thing I’ll always remember him saying: “The newspaper should be a branch of the marketing office, not a bunch of stuff that makes us look bad.” The only one who was polite to me/my staff about the whole thing was the quarterback, whose lawyers had instructed him not to talk.

    Luckily the new marketing director was a former newspaper editor and backed me up strongly, along with my advisers. But that experience and several that followed it showed me journalism was not where I wanted to be. Ironically enough, I’m now in PR. I’m sad for students who don’t get the real journalism opportunities they deserve. And people wonder why newspapers are dying a slow and ugly death.

  • ItsCalledJournalismForAReason

    Completely agree.

    I loved my campus newspaper, but unfortunately the school did not. In a matter of a months they basically fired the entire student staff and hired a new EIC (a 51-year-old mom) who then preceded to hire even more new faces. It took about two months to change the face of the newspaper. Now, I almost feel ashamed to be tied to it at all.

    The design and content took a huge nosedive. And the “advisor” never had our backs – not once. We were thrown under the bus. At least I graduated before the changes…so many underclassmen are SOL now.

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  • http://www.ehtcurrent.com Laura Stetser

    Thanks for telling your story- as a former UD/Review alumna who came through UD’s fantastic program a few years after you, I too had my passion for journalism sparked through the professors and at that amazingly well-run student paper. Not only did we get to collect usable clips of which to be proud, we were able to truly understand all that goes into producing the news. It’s a shame your students are no longer afforded this opportunity. The need for real journalists has not faded, even if the platform has evolved, and college should be the place to educate them in the craft.

  • Dawn

    While I commiserated with Jeff while reading his article, I also enjoyed reading the comments of readers even more. The written (or typed) word still has power to move people. No matter the speed and impersonalization of technology, the human mind and need to express themselves can’t be quelled. Thank you for sharing your stories here.

  • GME

    I was EIC of a biweekly at a community college in Michigan, and remember well how the administration dropped the job of advisor on a new adjunct after the longtime faculty advisor retired. Still, the staff gelled and we produced a great, reinvigorated paper that was better than it had been in years. We won the paper’s second ever Best in State that year.

    But, with a green advisor and staff, we didn’t see the truck coming in the form of over-the-summer surprise new rules mandating student journalists be hired as college employees in order to receive our meager compensation (pennies on the hour, if that). Previously, we had been paid as independent contractors, and always out of our own budget.

    About three months into the fall semester, the HR department found some leverage on me and I was given the choice (by the comm. dept head out of the blue) to resign or I wouldn’t be paid. As an independent student with no parental net, I had no choice.

    I passed the torch to talented staff members and the paper endured for another two years with a strong staff that produced good, solid student journalism and even got some scoops. When the advisor was unable to continue, the college installed a PR adjunct who was actually in a relationship with the college’s main PR flak. I think you could probably guess what the paper looks like now.

  • Kurt Tondorf

    Jeff, I love that you created something of worth for those 15 kids, no matter how fleeting.

    I wrote a sports column for The Daily Tar Heel at UNC, the venerated student-run daily paper, and was blessed to be taught by two septuagenarian superheroes at the J-school: Chuck Stone, who would regale us with stories from his hell-raising days at the Philly Daily News, and Jim Shumaker, who would use his red flair pen to circle overly florid phrasings in my columns, draw a line to the margin, and tremulously write JESUS CHRIST.

    Because of these men (one of whom I see was your mentor as well) I did my best to raise my own kind of hell. I wrote about the cruel conduct of the school’s champion lacrosse coach, calling for his dismissal (he was eventually fired, but not before coming to the paper to track me down). I pointed a finger at the athletic department’s trivial reprimand of a star linebacker for a sexual assault (he had to do a book report and didn’t miss a game).

    My editor fielded call after displeasured call from the athletic department. They vaguely hinted they could take my press pass away for the sports I was covering … but they did not, and more importantly, not once did Kevin Schwartz, the general manager and guardian of the paper on behalf of us kids, tell me to stop writing what I was writing. Nor did anyone else.

    Your remembrances of your “ink-stained fraternity” are mine as well. I made $.80/hr working as an assistant editor for the DTH and still think it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

  • Mary

    Related to so much in your column. As a high school adviser for 20 years the same thing happened in terms of losing the position. Still heartbroken, angry, and very distant from it all. Retiring in June. It has been two long years and not much progress moving on.

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  • Chris

    As a J-school grad student, I hope you SEO the living the daylights out of this post and put Manhattanville out of it’s misery.

    • Chris

      *its. Oh autocorrect…

  • http://cnnsi.com Chris

    I am not a journalist, nor have I ever studied it when in school. As a matter of fact I hated writing papers! I thought this was a great article and by the end I was just as pissed as Jeff.

  • Kent

    This just reinforces my opinion that US Universities have definite tiers of excellence, and Manhattanville must be in the very lowest level. I wrote for 3 of the 4 regular publications at my alma mater and enjoyed it thoroughly. Controversy was continual, criticism of the administration habitual, and journalists like Ali Velshi were created during my time.

    The author is better served finding a school worthy of his ability and dedication.

  • Paul

    If you can show you were fired because of the content of the newspaper, then its a First Amendment issue. I had something similar happen almost a year and a half ago. I fought it and won a settlement from the university. The organizations that helped me the most were the Student Press Law Center and FIRE. I also had a “rock star” first amendment lawyer take my case pro bono. So there’s hope for a wronged adviser.

    • jwg

      It’s my understanding that the Supreme Court has held that the freedom of the press does not apply to private universities. First Amendment only protects against government abridgement of freedom of the press.

    • Also an adviser

      Not a lawyer, but I think there’s little recourse when it’s a private school, particularly since he was volunteering as adviser and teaching as an adjunct. Those organizations can certainly help draw attention to the situation though. They don’t just work with public schools. Even when the law won’t protect free speech on private school campuses, they advocate supporting the “spirit of the First Amendment” as an ethical value that’s vital to intellectual freedom and just plain good teaching.

  • Eric Goolsby

    When I was still in the military, I deployed to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. While there, the deployed commander asked me to start a small newsletter to help with morale. He told me to be irreverent, humorous and above all else, not dull. I started talking to everyone on the island to come up with short stories for the newsletter, named the Diego Dragon (even had an icon I designed of a dragon draped around the earth). I attended intramural sporting events and wrote about them. I did movie reviews. All with a little sense of the twisted sense of humor I posses. The problem was, I had to pass the newsletter through at least two captains before it got to the commander. They absolutely HACKED up my pieces, taking out all the witticism and making it the same dull newsletter all bases put out. I finally went directly to the commander and told him what was going on. He instructed me to bring it right to him. From that point on, the jokes flowed freely and I even got away with some digs at the leadership AND the president. It was awesome. Sadly, after I rotated back to the states, someone brought me a copy that had been done since I left. It was back to the dull newsletter I hated(they even removed the dragon icon and renamed it something lame like Diego News. I’m not a journalist, but I love the written word. So sad, that people who are supposed to love journalism and teach it, don’t appreciate it.

  • Susi

    I wonder what you think of this article that came out at the Review a few weeks ago:
    http://www.udreview.com/american-overconsumption-bad-for-environment-1.3008001

  • paul needell

    my most heartfelt sympathies, jeff. as a now-retired journalism lover/lifer (32 years worth), i too, weep for the industry, our passion, that so fulfilled us. and am so saddened that those who aspire to ollow our path will be denied the life we both treasure… but, seriously, this development shocks you? it’s a miracle yo did such wonderful work with your students for as long as you did. today’s world of ‘journalism’ is spit upon at every turn and inevitably leaves lifers/lovers like us bitter in the end. an i always promised my self never to become one of those ‘bitter old hacks’ who preceded us. as much as i still strive to encourage the youngin’s still hungry to follow in our footsteps, it’s a never-ending tale of one step fowrard, two steps back, i’m afraid.

  • http://www.martinnicholson.com Marty Nicholson

    Wow…just wow. PR certainly is part of communications, but NOT journalism. As a proud graduate of the University of Missouri J-School, I took several PR courses. Worked in PR…and in journalism. I much prefer journalism. Write the truth – for good or bad – and see what happens. I tweet for a D-1 basketball program and have to be very positive about my comments. At times, it’s tough, and while I don’t criticize, I write what I see. So far, I am enjoying it, though. Good luck, Jeff.

  • Greg

    Mr. Pearlman,

    You have destroyed any journalistic credibility that you might have had by inserting an “f-bomb” in the middle of your blog. If you are unable or unwilling to make your point without needless vulgarity, then you are not the appropriate person to serve as an adviser to a student newspaper.

    • Bill Chapman

      People like you are the problem. Political Correcness running amuck.

    • Kent

      Not an intelligent comment – this is a blog, not a thesis. And any position that young university adults would be affected by the “f-bomb” is silly.

    • http://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/ James McPherson

      Though I’m not a huge fan of profanity, in this case it’s hardly unwarranted. And the fact that you chose to focus on this doesn’t do much for your own credibility, Greg.

      • Byron

        Imagine that. Somebody used the F-word.

  • VU alum

    Re “Come year’s end, three editors landed top-shelf internships: One at MSNBC and the Rachel Maddow Show, one at Sports Illustrated, one at a Wall Street investment newspaper. I was giddy. Beyond giddy. Another staffer, our sports editor, was hired by NBC Sports. Again—giddy.”

    Amazing accomplishments in a single year – at any college! You’re a star! I think given that you were underpaid and not appreciated, you should try to find a better place to continue this work. It is always disheartening to read that someone made such strides at a college and then were replaced without even a discussion previously on any particular issue that came up that disturbed the person who decided to replace you without discussion. If it was all about someone writing some angry column once, the instances of good journalism that clearly existed given the internships your students landed, should have outweighed that. The people overseeing the school clearly never looked at examples of top notch student newspapers nor had any ambition to compete with them and shine in journalism. Perhaps they didn’t realize the school had the ability to compete but clearly your students have shown the results. Many people would give their eyeteeth for the internships your students landed.

    They will not get similar internships by working for a glorified PR arm although they can go to work for a PR firm. The provost, by saying, it was all about image control, showed she had no clue what journalism is about and far too thin a skin. The people involved in decision making needed an introduction to what good college newspapers look like and their purpose. You apparently thought they knew the point when they agreed to have a newspaper but apparently they didn’t.

    They’ve turned what was a journalism arm into free PR slavery benefiting the “image” of the college in one respect but certainly serving the college’s “image” much more poorly than would a top notch newspaper, which they were on the way to obtaining. Sounds like they don’t believe in journalism to begin with, considering what the student who wrote above said about the current advisor’s discouragement of students from attempting to do journalism and telling them the best they can do is write for a small town paper. Already YOUR students have shown that’s not true — for a fleeting moment, while you were there.

    Any college would be lucky to have you, with results like you showed your first year re internships. Keep your head up and find a better place to carry on this work (or write at some of the places yourself that you got the students those wonderful internships!).

  • Tom E

    Like many others here I came today thanks to Peter King. Like many others I am sick to my stomach at what happened to you.Like many others I am sick to my stomach at has happened to journalism in this country. I grew up in Philly and read some of the best writers daily, some you mention, others like Bill Lyons, Darrell Sifford,Clark DeLeon. Our society is poorer thanks to the death of journalism and will only get worse.

  • Amanda Lind

    :( thanks for sharing this…

  • Mattytwoshoes

    Glad I read this. Add Manhattenville College to the ranks of the burgeoning plutocracy. The ass clowns in charge clearly have no respect for freedom of speech or a free press. Yes, let’s teach our children how to be corporate shills that will say anything as long as it fills the coffers, no matter how untruthful or corrupt. And while we’re at it, let’s teach them the game of “PR Handler Three Card Monte”. “I’m not sure who made that decision but I will get right to you on that”. “I didn’t see the tapes in question but I’m a very busy man”. etc, etc. Congratulations Manhattenville, you’ve got it figured out. Those foolish Ivy League schools who allow their student newspapers to print just about anything (and I mean ANYTHING!) will soon start losing prospective students to you and your safe approach to journalism. Why don’t you just move the Touchstone’s HQ to Bejing. They could probably do a better job of censoring than you tone deaf idiots. Finally, for anyone who doesn’t know or understand that PR Hacks are the lowest form of corporate weasel…..well now you know and you know why.

  • Brian

    I majored in Journalism with a focus on Strategic Communications (PR and Advertising) at the University of Missouri – Columbia. While I did go into PR, I believe that true journalism needs to be unfettered by editorial oversight. In my career I work with journalists to pitch story ideas, but the inevitable story that comes out I have no control over. Nor do I want any. The moment journalism is bastardized to serve the needs of advertisers and PR hacks (ahem) is when it no longer is journalism and all credibility is lost. The idea that a schools newspaper is treated like a PR pamphlet is really depressing and just makes people like me look bad. Embarrassing.

  • Journalism is Worse Now

    The state of journalism has deteriorated over the past several years, moving to encourage unnecessary (and often unwanted) editorial content in what should be straightforward news. You even referenced one of the organizations, MSNBC, who along with their flip side FoxNews, is one of the worst places for objective journalistic content. I wouldn’t feel giddy if I had a student working there, I would feel dismayed that they’re going to an environment where they’re expected to start with a slant, then find some “news.”

    In your own field Jeff, there are plenty of sports journalists that now freely interject divisive, poorly researched, or irrelevant topics in their sports articles. It’s impossible to read or listen to blowhards like Rick Reilly or Skip Bayless because of this, but sadly their commercial success shows that stirring the pot causes ratings/page views for their employers – which is clearly more important to the bigwigs than putting out a thoughtful product.

    It’s fine for students to complain about food, parking, or other college annoyances, but I hope you taught them to at least talk with both sides so they can also learn about things like food budgets and student/car ratios that sometimes help cause these problems. Otherwise, they’re not really accomplishing anything newsworthy, just griping for the sake of it.

    Journalism is definitely being marginalized, and that’s a shame, but it has definitely caused some of its own problems by lowering its standards.

  • Karl Jacobs

    Reminds me of what happened at my college, CSUF.

    When I arrived there, most of the journalism instructors were either a) working journalists, or b) retired journalists. By the time I graduated, all the faculty with journalism experience were gone, replaced by faculty that all had PHDs, none in journalism. Apparently this was a mandate by the State of California, experience in what you were teaching was optional, having a PHD was the requirement.

  • Bill Chapman

    Tis is the result of Political Correctness gone wild. No one is allowed to say anything about anything because someone might be offended. Hate to say it, but you reap what you sow.

  • Graig Kinzie

    Thanks for this, Jeff. It is a conversation higher education needs to have.

    My college newspaper broke a story that illustrates exactly why an independent, student-driven paper is vital to a university.

    I was a freshman at Hastings College in the fall of 1998, writing sports for The Collegian as I worked my way into the journalism department.

    Our managing editor at The Collegian, a senior, uncovered and developed a story that resulted in the resignation of the college’s president.

    During the first week on campus, the president delivered a stirring motivational speech to the students. Most left inspired and upbeat for the year ahead.

    Our managing editor uncovered that vast portions of the president’s comments that day were originally delivered by an executive with Coca-Cola.

    Hastings College had a zero-tolerance plagiarism policy for its students. Our managing editor tracked down the original writer with Coca-Cola, confirmed he had penned the comments and when and where he originally delivered the speech. The editor then contacted the college president, who admitted using the work. He said it was not his intent to claim the speech was his original work, but he admitted failing to credit the original writer or admit that his words were not his own.

    Within two weeks, he resigned as the college president. It was the only thing anyone on campus talked about from the time the weekly student paper was printed until the president resigned.

    Student newspapers, with motivated staff and advisers not pressured by administrators, are still a powerful and necessary form of speech.

    Thanks again for sharing this. It brought back memories, and makes me now, as a small-market radio station owner, appreciate the courage it took from the editing staff and the department professors to follow through with the story despite the risk.

  • steven

    Well thanks to MMQB I read this story and just emailed the school, I have a JR who was looking at this school but no more. My money will not go to this type of school. I has her read the story and she said email the school and see what they say. She is more open minded then me it seems, let’s see if they respond. Go teach somewhere else that appreciates you and what a school paper should be.

  • Kathleen Gaffney Thometz

    I was features editor for Touchstone in the 80s. We had a great paper, no censoring that I can remember. I wrote a column: What $10,000 Gets You (or doesn’t)at Manhattanville.
    I caught a lot of flack for that article! If I only knew then what I know now! I’d give my left arm to educate my kids for $10K a year! Maybe my son will write an article about not wanting to pay $50K for granite counter tops in his dorm or a fancy gym! $10K, a good education and no debt, sounds darn good! I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t go to M’Ville or the article will never get published!

  • wiese

    Good posts and naturally the article itself. Sorry to see more news events being covered by video with TV anchors reading (off a teleprompter) the story instead of having a written piece covering the news. Even when the story itself is not multimedia condusive. I am sick in the direction our society is taking where music has to be ‘seen’ in a video and news stories have to be ‘viewed’ in a webcast. I want to HEAR music and READ news. And naturally news has to be critical and not infomercials.

  • Megan

    A friend of mine posted this blog post on facebook. It is funny because my husband and I are Americans living in Europe. We’ve kicked around the idea of staying here so our kids can benefit from the government-paid university education. It is quite a good education but in my mind, I think of American colleges and universities as a place of free thought. Guess I should check my assumptions a bit before packing our bags to head back.

  • Byron Christopher

    This is a sad story, on many levels. The person who wrote this, I suspect, had a good upbringing and he threw his heart and soul into journalism. And for the right reasons.

    But he was fucked over — for the wrong reasons.

    By and large, the reporting practiced today is to journalism what VD is to sex. Journalism today is about public relations, image, keeping the advertisers happy, protecting the status quo, etc, etc.

    When I read the blog, I could feel the man’s pain. That’s because I’ve been a reporter for 30+ years [a national award-winning reporter no less, twice].
    The blog writer is honest and he gave an accurate description of what it’s really like out there. The sad thing is that it’s happening across the country, across the continent and across the world. The blog writer is not alone.

    Journalism died a long time ago. Thank goodness, though, the dream hasn’t died. There are still good reporters who haven’t sold out or played the game. God bless the reporters who haven’t become bend-over people to protect their mortgages, car payments and pensions.

    Folks, there is something you can do: think for yourself. When you consume a media report, be your own editor. You decide if the news you’re getting is complete, not complete, public relations, honest or unbiased. Decide also to support or not support the media outlet. Support the good guys, and to hell with the pricks.

    We don’t have to be rocket scientists to work out why so-called social media has become popular. We can’t and shouldn’t trust the establishment and the institutions that support it.

    Byron Christopher, Edmonton, Canada … byronchristopher.org ["no news release journalism"]

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  • VU Alum

    I have a last thing to say — just that if the college wants to obtain more prestige, nurturing an actual journalism-oriented newspaper that was yielding internships, instead of replacing it with a public relations page would have achieved that, whereas they cannot gain prestige through public relations, just “image control.” A school’s image gains more from enhanced prestige than from parroting what the school has already achieved as dictated from the administration. The school gains status from success stories and the internships obtained. Those were really nice ones for one year running that paper.

    I thought there were good points made by “Journalism Is Worse Now” when he or she wrote: “It’s fine for students to complain about food, parking, or other college annoyances, but I hope you taught them to at least talk with both sides so they can also learn about things like food budgets and student/car ratios that sometimes help cause these problems. Otherwise, they’re not really accomplishing anything newsworthy, just griping for the sake of it.”

    On the other hand, the students complaining about food were writing opinion columns, not the objective news. Clearly the well-written straight news stories outnumbered the occasional sophomoric columns (which one might expect at a school), or the internships wouldn’t have resulted. The school will not see those types of internships again from a public relations shill page. But, hey, “image” is more important than prestige, I guess! LOL.

    Sorry that someone above objected to the F word appearing on the page. He was teaching college level students rather than infants, so it really is irrelevant that he might put that word in his personal blog. Tons of college literary page writing includes such words, for that matter. Whoever wrote that whine about that word doesn’t know anything about what matters in journalism and literature — the meaning, flow, facts, and soul of the story matters — the truth matters, not how pristine one keeps the wording.

    The former advisor is an honest man; hopefully he will find that when one door closes a better one opens.

  • Lee Simmons

    I am not a journalist or even a student, but I do like reading interesting and even provacative articles that tell things as they are. Truth is better.

    I suspect that many universities, like corporate America, don’t really care about creativity, their students (employees), their role as educators (managers, leaders), but only of the bottom line. Much of it is driven by those that they report to and they are powerless against it, like possibly the provost at Manhattanville. In some cases, being employed is more important than voicing an honest opinion, unfortunate, but reality.

    The sadest part of all and which the organizations don’t get is they do themselves more harm than good by trying to protect or project an image. Until the content is more important than said image, nothing will change.

    Potential college students should likely try to communicate with present students when evaluating where they go to school.

    Unless things change and I can’t imagine that happening, then get ready for a world full of gift wrapped mediocrity.

    It looks like what Manhattanville has done to Mr. Pearlman will do them much greater harm than the report of lousy food ever would have.

  • ERIK

    JUST THOUGH I WOULD SHARE WITH YOU WHY STUDENT NEWSPAPERS ARE IMPORTANT AND HOW A UNIVERSITY SHOULD GO ABOUT HANDLING SUCH THINGS. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pitt-news-columnist-fired-in-wake-of-secret-society-allegations-683670/

  • http://www.wenalway.com.forum Robert Knilands

    You spend far more time talking about design and layout than about content. Worse, you shrug off tons of glaring errors.

    You should have been replaced. The staff is better without you. Accept this. Move on.

  • http://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/ James McPherson

    Sad story, and my first newspaper advising job was at a similar institution (where I also revived a largely defunct newspaper, and taught students to use the IRS Form 990). I left after two years, and the newspaper is essentially dead (and the university nearly so).

    But now I advise an award-winning student newspaper at another private school, where the administration winces at times (and even grumbles once in a while), but also understands the value of student journalism. It’s a rare blessing, having administrators who take the newspaper seriously enough (agreeing to be interviewed regularly, even on short notice) but not too seriously (recognizing that student journalists will occasionally make dumb mistakes).

    In the last decade, the newspaper has done stories on a local cult, gender imbalance at the university, sexual awareness (complete with a life-size photo of a condom on a banana), a lawsuit against the university for a tenure decision, administrative and faculty salaries, race issues, harassment of gays, and gambling and drug use on campus, among other things — all at a private Christian university.

    A couple of times (years ago) administrators asked to see something (or have an attorney review it) in advance–but in each case, I managed to persuade them that such prior review would be a bad idea for the students and for the university. I make sure that students are familiar with the Student Press Law Center, and the Whitworthian has made good use of the SPLC.

    As adviser, I also don’t engage in prior review–I tell students I’d advise beforehand, if they ask, and criticize afterward whether they ask or not. I also hang out with them for part of deadline night, offer to proofread while I’m there (they’re generally glad to have extra eyes), and trust that they’ll ask me for advice if they have concerns.

    A few years ago, SPJ named the Whitworthian the top non-daily small university newspaper in the country. Just last week, it won the region again, and will be one of 12 considered for the top national award.

  • http://thisishorseracing.com Joe Clancy

    Well said, though a shame. Had those same inspirational professors at UD and think of them, and my time at the Review, every day. Nothing beats experience, and college newspapers provide it. Wonder what happened to that orange couch?

  • Bob Epstein

    Jeff,
    As someone who spent four years at M’Ville, I would bet anything that two of the things you touched on led to your ouster. The first one you fleshed out a bit–the image thing. Manhattanville works hard to get their students money, and have rigged the first year curriculum to lessen the risk of transfer. As such, they are very much focused on new student matriculation because they operate (moreso than universities with bigger endownments) as a business. With that in mind, they don’t want anything (whether true or not) alienating potential customers.
    Secondly, you mentioned that some Ethiopian students complained about something printed in one of the issues of the paper. I guarantee you that was part of it as well. Manhattanville fosters a super politically correct environment (with a big time left wing tilt), and any complaints from minority students would receive the utmost attention.
    Also, certain academic departments on campus contain refugees from such reputable organizations as the World Workers Party and the American Communist Party. These individuals work hard to silence any speech they deem offensive. Welcome to Manhattanville, Jeff!

  • Also an adviser

    This just sucks. I could try to say that more eloquently, but I think “sucks” gets the job done.
    I’m wrapping up my first year as a college newspaper adviser. I’m fortunate to be supported by some administrators and senior faculty who believe in student journalism and a free press, but this post shows me that if certain powers in the school get it into their heads, the rug could be yanked out from under us. I’m full-time, but not tenured, so they could oust me quickly if I fall out of favor or the paper prints something that irritates. After reading your post, though, I’m more resolved than ever to teach my students to ask tough questions and report stories that matter.

  • Stanley Blow III

    This is why I love that my college’s newspaper is completely independent of the college. They have absolutely no control over us.

  • Rick Adamczak

    Now I’m angry! The problem is we don’t have a limited voice – we have unlimited voices. Social media, etc. that are unfiltered. I like having everyone’s opinion, but at some point you need cold hard facts and context that can only be provided by journalism.

  • Rick Adamczak

    Now I’m angry!

    The problem is we have UNLIMITED voices – social media, etc.

    What’s needed is more cold hard facts, context and thoughtful perspectives only jourmalism can provide.

  • Mitchell Berger

    Within a year or so after we started a newspaper at Fordham’s CLC campus, someone committed suicide by jumping off the building’s 11th floor terrace. We covered it (the reporter was Laurie Loisel who went on to a career in journalism) and as the editor I soon got called into Dean Shea’s office. He was not happy, but he was reasonable. He didn’t like it that the suicide was our lead story. I pointed out that the story ended all of the rumors that had been flying around the campus, some of which were fairly lurid, and that once the campus knew the true, sad story of the man who had taken his life, people moved on because it wasn’t fun to speculate any more. Dean Shea took my point and admonished me to try to be a little less sensational in the future. Because without any other art to go with the story, we ran a bleak photo of the 11th floor terrace with the caption “A final view?”

    I saw how important the University regarded its image.Dean Shea could have come down with a much heavier hand, or decided that it wasn’t vital for CLC to have a newspaper and cut our funding. But he didn’t. I’m happy to say that the last time I checked that more than 30 years after we started it, the Obsever is still publishing. That doesn’t happen without institutional support. http://www.fordhamobserver.com/

  • dean

    Jeff I am a current student at Mville and LEt me just say many students are outraged at your leaving of Manhattanville. You were truly one of the most passionate and helpful professors here. there are may professor who should be fired from Mville and you were abosolutely NOT one of them. I am very displeased to hear of this especially my girlfriend who came to me in tears when she finished your last class. it just sucks that this school can be so closed minded to the wants and needs of the students. even this weekends past quad jam they had the opportunity to bring in some incredible performers but instead brought some nobody to the school which no one had a clue who the hell he was. It really is sad to hear you are lleaing and hopefully MVille will realize what a grave mistake it was to let you go.

    • dean

      do not pay attention to the grammar mistakes was done quickly without revision.

  • Cristina Abreu

    Jeff,
    This is great. I’m glad you wrote about it and made it public. I completely agree with everything you say/think. You’re Ana amazing professor and the people who are smart enough took advantage of that. I personally learned a great deal from you and owe you a lot of respect. It’s sad that you won’t be teaching anymore because you’re amazing at it! You’re just one of those professors I’ll never forget.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      shucks. thanks, Cristina. That means a great deal. You’ll always be one of my favorites.

  • Colin

    Last year’s Touchstone was abysmal. Ranting and venting does not equal good journalism. Also, comparing the access to a fully-stocked cafeteria on a daily basis to starvation and famine in Ethiopia is absolutely shameful. I’m glad that you will be taking your negativity and “high-quality” work elsewhere.

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