‘Bum steer’ wants student life newspaper
Administrators nix director’s plan for a second student paper.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
Though the petition did not cite individual Ranger stories, its list of grievances included typos, factual errors and “false representations with an abject failure to print corrections and retractions.”
Further, it claimed, “Those who wish to declare open dissent into any printed portion of The Ranger are either rejected or printed in a neutered fashion, wherein the voice of dissent is weakened.”
Students spending time to create a petition voicing opposition to The Ranger shows they read the publication.
“I’m not going to debate logic with you, because I’m not,” Posadas said Friday.
He said campus leaders only represent a small portion of the entire student population.
“I think that if we took a poll of the entire college, then, A, they would probably be surprised that there was a college newspaper. Two, maybe they wouldn’t be interested in your practices,” he said.
Posadas said the main difference between a “student-run” newspaper and The Ranger is that the “student-run” publication would not be a laboratory newspaper.
Posadas said because The Ranger is a laboratory newspaper, “You’re writing for a grade; you’re writing for a class.”
Odom said, “Most college newspapers serve as a laboratory function in that students get to practice what they learn in classes. However, at the same time, they also serve their college communities by providing news and information targeted toward that audience.”
Odom said much of The Ranger’s content is created through classes, but the staff of The Ranger is made up of student editors who submit applications and are interviewed by the Student Publication Board.
Student life is invited to participate in board interviews but has not sent a representative in the last few years. Posadas participated in his first year as student life director.
Odom continued, “A large percent is created by editors, who, beyond their class requirements, or who don’t even have the class requirements, but they’re required to do that as part of the stipend they earn for being editor.”
Odom said Ranger reporters allot substantial amounts of time to the reporting process.
“We could never pay them enough, nor give them enough academic credit for all the hours that they do that because they want to learn, they want to have good clips, and they genuinely want to serve the public by providing information,” she said.
Posadas said he understood Ranger stories “often get changed, and final approval is set up by the faculty — as it should be — because it is a class.”
He said Friday a coordinator with journalism experience would be hired, and the coordinator’s salary would come from the “staffing” line item of his proposed $800,000 student activities budget.
Posadas said the $70,000 listed in the budget for the student publication would go toward operation, printing and travel costs.
Posadas called a laboratory newspaper, such as The Ranger, a “controlled environment.”
“Free and independent newspapers tend to have a global point of view,” Posadas said.
“The school isn’t a real-life experience. The school isn’t a world experience,” he said.
Posadas said Friday, “A free and independent student newspaper isn’t told what to report on. You all (Ranger reporters) are given a beat, right? And your beat is SAC.”
Posadas said reporters writing for a student life publication could write about whatever they choose.
“A free and independent student newspaper could go anywhere. … No one tells them — they say what their beat is,” he said.
However, Posadas then said a student editor would determine national, state and international beats for reporters.
Faculty members determine beats for Ranger reporters, he said, “because it’s a laboratory paper. It’s an exercise.”
Ranger reporters are assigned areas of coverage called beats throughout the college and district and are required to submit news tips for those beats each week.
Posadas said the stories students write for a student life publication will focus on events outside of an academic setting. “Depending upon the specialist we hire … they’ll do stories that are meaningful globally, meaningful to the city of San Antonio … probably less about how much a chess piece costs, or why does so-and-so travel so much. It’s a little bit more of a broader scope,” he said.
Posadas referred to stories The Ranger has written about expenses in the student life budget.
Throughout the 2011-12 academic year, Posadas has frequently been hostile to Ranger reporters, once threatening an editor with a charge of stalking and, another time, telling the editor he would assess a fee in exchange for an interview.
That incident won him inclusion in the Texas Monthly’s Bum Steer awards and ridicule in national sites from The Poynter Institute to Huffington Post.
At an April 5 Student Activity Fee Committee meeting, the committee approved a proposed $800,000 student activities budget, to be presented to Zeigler.
Though Posadas and psychology sophomore Jacob Wong, Student Government Association president, said the idea for a student publication came from student input from SGA events and Presidents Round Table events, neither was able to determine when the idea for a student publication was created nor the names of any specific students.
Nor is there any mention of such a project in The Ranger’s coverage of Presidents Round Table meetings.
Vela said May 2 the four other district colleges have not prepared budgets reflecting a doubling of the student activity fee in time to be approved for the start of the fall semester, and he expects the budget will remain at $1 per credit hour of enrollment per student.
“We know students want it,” Posadas said. “We know that journalism students want it. Journalism students — many journalism students — are like, ‘I don’t want a lab paper. I want a paper where my voice gets heard.’”