After six years of advising The ‘Burnian, it is time for a new chapter. Dr. Mark Benedetti will take over faculty adviser duties in January 2018. I would like to thank Blackburn College students, staff and faculty, as well as the many Carlinville community members, who’ve supported the student newspaper. I hope that you will continue to do so. Contrary to some misconceptions, faculty advisors don’t choose the stories and never deter the students from pursuing a worthwhile story (worthwhile is defined by the students). For obvious reasons, faculty advisors should also never be the subject of, or author, stories in the campus newspaper (I’m breaking that last rule for the first time here). And as a new chapter in the campus newspaper’s history begins, I urge readers to remember:
- The campus newspaper serves the students of Blackburn first, and what is of interest to them is not always the advisor’s (administrators, faculty or staffs’) cup of tea. Nor should it be.
- The College Media Association’s Code of Ethical Behavior for Advisors notes, “Freedom of expression and debate by means of a free and vigorous student media are essential to the effectiveness of an educational community in a democratic society. This implies the obligation of the student media to provide a forum for the expression of opinion – not only those opinions differing from established university or administrative policy, but those at odds with the media staff beliefs or opinions as well”. I acknowledge that this is sometimes uncomfortable but in the words of one ex-’Burnian editor, it is equally important to remember that “we are not PR”.
- Blackburn’s student newspaper is very different from most other student publications in large part because there is no journalism program at Blackburn and the department of English and communications only offers one journalism class a year. Very few members of The ‘Burnian team actually take these classes.
- Like every other student worker on the campus, ‘Burnian editors, designers, writers, photographers, web and social media managers are learning their jobs on the fly and mistakes are inevitable. However, unlike most Blackburn student workers, ‘Burnian mistakes are public for the campus and wider community to note, scrutinize, complain, sometimes retaliate, about.
- ‘Burnian workers are under constant pressure to make relentless, weekly deadlines. Please answer their emails, return calls or speak to them for a few minutes in person so that they may write the best article possible.
In the past three years, ‘Burnian staffers have won 12 statewide awards at the Illinois College Press Association conference against students enrolled in journalism programs who plan to make journalism their career. In this competition, our students compete against students in colleges and universities SEVEN times the student population of Blackburn.
In closing, I am beyond proud of the remarkably hard working, talented and resilient members of The ‘Burnian and their ability to bring 12 pages of campus news to you 12 times a year. They are state champs! And as my colleague takes over the helm, please support and celebrate them as such.