University newspaper prints controversial photos

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October 5, 2007

3:46 PM

__ Grambling State Univ. paper’s noose photos gain national attention__

Grambling State University in Grambling, La., began an investigation of the school newspaper Monday after the newspaper printed photographs of teachers putting nooses around children’s necks at nearby, university-run Alma J. Brown Elementary School. The school newspaper, The Gramblinite, stated that the adults were teaching students about the “Jena Six” and how nooses were a symbol of racism in American society.

p. The Gramblinite’s online website removed three photographs from the event after a staff conference call. University President Horace Judson ordered the removal of all traces of the article regarding the event this past weekend and the newspaper responded by taking down the controversial photos and re-posting 10 different, non-controversial images on Monday.

p. “We do not approve of censorship or prior review,” the current Gramblinite editor-in-chief De’Eric M. Henry told Fox News. “We stand by our editorial decision to inform the students of Grambling State University of news events that affect them.”

p. Presently, the photos are no longer on the Gramblinite’s website pending investigation by the university. However, a lengthy debate of reader comments still remains on the website. Many were disapproving of the photographs, but some realized that restraining circulation of the pictures would be a violation of civil rights.

p. “When will administrators and faculty learn that you cannot stifle the First Amendment in misguided attempts to appease nervous community members and ill informed alumni?” Dr. Elizabeth F. Desnoyers-Colas, assistant professor of communication at Armstrong Atlantic State University, said.

p. Grambling State University, which is an historically black college, has had previous disputes with The Gramblinite. Last January, Provost Robert Dixon ordered the newspaper to stop publication, citing bad editing and plagiarism as the cause. Although the newspaper was deemed “appropriate” the next week, Dixon’s move was widely criticized by both alumni as well as the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va. and then-Gramblinite editor Darryl Smith.

p. “The Gramblinite only did what our motto stands for: ‘We don’t make the news; we report it,’” Henry said.

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