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Throwing away newspapers won’t erase facts or hard work put into the paper

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Throwing stacks of newspapers away won’t erase the truth.
Last week, there was an uproar at Central Connecticut State University when the men’s soccer coach reportedly threw away stacks of the student newspaper, The Recorder. The coach later admitted to emptying newspaper racks at the student center.
Apparently, the student paper had run an article detailing the soccer team’s academic ineligibility for next season’s NCAA tournament. The team is also not allowed to play in the Northeast Conference tournament.
But what the coach apparently didn’t realize is that throwing away a stack of newspapers isn’t going to grant his team eligibility. It isn’t going to make his team smarter or give them new focus or drive to get better grades. It isn’t going to erase the past or their failure to qualify for the tournament academically. It’s not going to give them another chance. The only thing it did was make him look like, for lack of a better word, an idiot.
Clearly I’m biased with this situation. I work for, get paid by and devote almost 15 hours of every day to a school newspaper. But even if I removed myself and my affiliations from the situation and looked at this incident objectively, I think my opinions would stay the same.
This coach needs to take responsibility for his team’s actions. Obviously I have no idea what his motives or purposes were in throwing away all these newspapers or what he was actually trying to accomplish. Maybe it was even some weird coaching ploy to try to motivate his players and drive a point home. But I played soccer most of my life. I’ve had a lot of coaches try an array of techniques, but destroying other people’s hard work was never one of them.
The sad thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about people destroying newspapers.
In February 2001, The Lantern published an article exposing an Undergraduate Student Government scandal that had occurred the preceding December. USG members had misused the organization’s funds on a dinner at Mitchell’s Steakhouse for USG members and friends, which included a limousine ride, according to a string of Lantern articles from 2001.
When USG members found out The Lantern was running a story about their scandal, they organized an effort to destroy about 10,000 copies of the paper. The USG officers involved in the effort couldn’t get their stories straight and cracked.
The incident resulted in the resignation of the USG president and punishment of the six individuals involved. Although no charges were pressed, they had to pay back money to The Lantern for lost advertising, issue public apologies and were forbidden to run for USG office.
The Missouri School of Journalism chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sent then-OSU President William “Brit” Kirwan an email saying it did not think those punishments were sufficient.
“We urge you to consider the type of student leader who would muzzle the independent voice of a free paper,” the statement said.
Clearly, attempting to destroy what those offenders apparently thought was the evidence of their scandal only brought more attention to their wrongdoings and more problems to them. If they hadn’t destroyed the papers, maybe the incident would’ve blown over.
Last year, word of the incident that happened more than a decade ago resurfaced when one of the perpetrators, who had an otherwise fairly clean record, ran for local public office. And just like Missouri School of Journalism’s SPJ, people began to question his character and leadership ability.
If the soccer coach hadn’t thrown away all those copies of The Recorder, I probably never would’ve heard about it and written this column. But I guess we’ll never know. And maybe we won’t know for 10 years down the road how the coach will see ramifications of his action. Maybe he wont see any consequences. Only time will tell. But no matter what happens, nothing changes the facts. His team still won’t compete in that tournament.
Missouri School of Journalism’s SPJ urged officials to reconsider their punishment for those who destroyed the copies of The Lantern because of the type of character it takes to do something like that. What type of person would “muzzle the independent voice of a student newspaper?”
I’ve never met any of those people, so I guess I don’t really know what kind of person it would take. Maybe they just didn’t appreciate the hard work that goes on in a student newsroom.
But I do know one thing. Destroying stacks of newspapers won’t erase the truth.
 

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