Lindenwood University administrators on Friday informed staffers at The Legacy, the student-run magazine, that the university would cease publication. The move sparked accusations of censorship from the students who work at the magazine.
The news editor of The Legacy, Madeline Raineri, said the decision was made because university officials found some coverage of issues and topics inappropriate.
Articles covering college sexual assault, suicide awareness and an investigation of a campus murder that happened 20 years ago were among the stories the school administration disapproved of, Raineri said.
University officials said the decision to stop production of the physical magazine was made to cut costs and prioritize the web and social media strategies. Raineri said that money wasn’t the issue. She said the university was planning to continue the magazine as long as the content featured favorable articles about the school.
“We were told that instead of doing a regular magazine, we could do a PR magazine and publish positive stories,” Raineri said. “We are not PR students; we’re journalism students, and that just completely goes against the ethics of journalism."
The Legacy began in late 2017 and had published five issues. The publication received 16 awards from the Missouri College Media Association conference. An issue examining youth suicides earned an honorable mention by the association for “In-Depth News Reporting” and was written by the former editor-in-chief, whose brother had committed suicide earlier this year.
“Not only are they taking away the chance for us to share things that are relevant, but they’re also taking away the chance to highlight a lot of the really positive aspects of the school,” Raineri said.
The magazine’s coverage of a murder that occured 20 years ago also brought in large numbers for the website, with about 90,000 page views.
Criticism of student-media outlets is not new, said Kari Williams, Region 7 director for the Society of Professional Journalists, of which Lindenwood University is a part. She said the elimination of student-media programs has occured on other campuses in response to stories that have not been well received by administrators.
“It just kind of seems like that's standard practice whenever student journalists are doing in-depth, investigative pieces,” Williams said. “Whenever that happens, the university, their go-to seems to be that they 'need to cut costs.'”
Representatives from the university declined to comment until next week, beyond saying The Legacy decision is due to cost-cutting.
“I want students to be able to have an advantage and have an opportunity to see how things really work in journalism and really get the experience that they deserve going into their career,” Raineri said. “I think that taking away a magazine pretty much makes our educational experience second rate.”
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