Students and professors at Central Connecticut State University gathered at a press conference to challenge the decision the campus newspaper made to dismiss opinion editor Marissa Blaszko.
Blaszko, a sophomore, was let go from the newspaper on March 10 when editors decided that her participation in activist groups, such as Youth for Socialist, posed as a conflict of interest for CCSU’s newspaper, The Recorder.
Blaszko said the paper knew about her involvement in such groups prior to hiring her and the paper had been trying to censor her writing for the past two semesters.
“A Letter from The Recorder’s Editorial Board”, which appeared in the April 7th edition of the paper said the executive editors gave Blaszko the option to dismiss her political ties and focus on her work at paper.
“She left us no choice, after no response, but to terminate her,” the letter from the editorial board stated.
“For these editors to say that the student body’s rights to speak and assemble are subordinate to corporate journalistic principles developed by the for-profit media is to say that the needs of a campus are less important than the career aspirations of a half dozen students,” Blaszko said, referring to the editors who fired her based on paper’s constitution and ethics code it implies on its staff. The policy is modeled similarly to The New York Times ethics code.
Blaszko said at the press conference that the newspaper receives $30,000 in fees annually from the student body and the money should be put to something that the whole campus can enjoy.
The paper should not be a training ground for the journalist department, according to Blaszko.
She proposes adding a clause to The Recorder’s constitution that guarantees student protection against the paper’s editorial policies. Blaszko said she wants students to come down on institutional discrimination.
Speakers at the press conference praised Blaszko’s good work, saying that her dismissal as editor based on her political views was uncalled for and believed she should be reinstated as opinion editor.
“I’ve read her articles, I’ve read her work, and it’s quite fantastic,” Brooke DelGuidice, student and member of the Progressive Student Alliance said. “If, as an opinion editor she had allowed her political opinions to get in the way of the job she was doing, I could understand why she would be removed from this position; however that was not the case.”
DelGuidice said Blaszko was removed from her position because of a disagreement. She said someone looked at her political opinions and disagreed with them and decided that was grounds to remove her.
Anthony Cannella, associate professor of English at CCSU who teaches several journalism classes said that Blaszko wasn’t fired because of The Recorder’s hierarchy didn’t agree her political views.
Cannella said she was let go because she wanted to be an opinion editor and be an activist in certain causes. This is a conflict of interest he said.
The Recorder said in their letter that Blaszko still has the right to submit work to the paper.
“They can’t stop be from writing stories,” Blaszko said. “But that doesn’t mean they have to publish the work.”
Cannella said Blaszko should have known about the code of ethics. He said the language in The Recorder’s code isn’t perfect, but it is a good code.
“It’s generally a solid code, similar to the Courant’s, New York Times and National Public Radio,” Cannella said.
Blaszko will be appealing her case on Friday April 17 to the university’s media board. She said she is confident that the media board will do what the students’ want and reinstate her as opinion editor.
Click here to read Ken Krayeske’s interview with The Recorder’s editor.