Florida A&M Blocks Student Newspaper

Florida A&M University has apparently blocked the school’s student newspaper, The Famuan, from publishing new issues until the staff goes through “additional training.” According to an article by Jennifer Portman in the Tallahassee Democrat:

School of Journalism & Graphic Communication Dean Ann Kimbrough decided to delay publication of the spring semester’s first edition until Jan. 30 following the filing of a libel lawsuit last month by a former Marching 100 drum major.

“This is an opportunity,” she said. “We need to make sure we are all involved in the training related to our jobs.”

The school has also removed the paper’s adviser and told all staff they must reapply for their positions .

The major violation here apparently stems from an article the paper published following the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion in 2011.

The article said that the university had suspended Keon Hollis, also a drummer, in connection with the hazing death. In fact, according to a correction later published, the university took no action against Hollis.

The The Famuan was sued for defamation of character as a result of the article.

That’s an unfortunate incident, for sure, but why is the university delaying publication of the paper? How much additional staff training is needed? The paper published an error. Staff doesn’t need “extra training” (anything more than one very serious lecture) to know newspapers aren’t supposed to publish things that aren’t true.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer