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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Students Plan to Protest The Daily

Posted by on Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 4:49 PM

A Facebook group is growing by over one hundred members a day as students organize to protest the UW’s increasingly conservative student newspaper, The Daily.

The paper ran an editorial last week by columnist John Fay defending California’s bigoted Prop 8, which banned gay marriage. The hackneyed piece made unsubstantiated and incendiary arguments about gay people and marriage. Fay wrote that “homosexuality is more of an emotional condition,” homosexuality is “a problem that needs to be dealt with,” and he suggested that gay marriages may lead to “incest, bestiality … or a 70-year-old man … marry[ing] 10 underage girls.” This illustration accompanied the article:

daily_bestiality.jpg “Matthew Jackson, he is an illustrator on staff, and he felt [the man-and-sheep drawing] represented the argument,” says Kristin Millis, director of Student Publications. The paper’s editorial board, under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Sarah Jeglum, also endorsed Republican Dino Rossi for governor in October.

The Daily has the right to post what it wants,” says rally organizer Kyle Rapinan. But, he says, “We want The Daily to apologize for the image it chose and not checking Fay's article for accuracy.”

“I think the paper should respond to its readers about what content is desirable and what is downright targeting and hateful,” says Rapinan. “The Daily should not post things that target minorities and spread fear and ignorance.”

The group, calling itself "Students for a Hate Free Daily," is adamant that it doesn’t want to censor the paper, but rather push the editorial leadership to be more inclusive about its viewpoints.

Normally, I’d think that rallying in protest of a newspaper would be absurd; if you don’t like what it publishes, protest by refusing to buy or read it. As people stop reading the paper, it would atrophy and die. But UW students heavily subsidize The Daily—the sole newspaper published campus—whether they like it or not. The $1.1. million budget is backed by $200,000 in student activity fees, says Millis. An additional $150,000 of ad revenues comes from university departments. So if their 15,000 copies-a-day student newspaper—which can never die or face competition due to artificial market forces—is hijacked by a right-wing editor like Jeglum, then it makes sense for the students to grab her by the ears with a bullhorn.

While removing the paper’s school subsidy could cripple the paper—I think that would be a bad strategy—that threat looms over the staff and editors. “I think that they take risks with offending public and of having that money taken away, and I think they are aware of those risks,” says Millis.

The rally begins at noon on Friday, December 5 on the Husky Union Building lawn.


Comments (31) RSS

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I've worked for Millis before and she's absolutely top-notch. I hope the editor situation improves.
Posted by Joshua on December 3, 2008 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Why don't the protestors try writing for the Daily -- a little editorial counterpoint, perhaps? Or try writing for another on-campus newspaper? Protests are a dime a dozen at the UW, and in Seattle generally. No one cares.
Posted by joykiller on December 3, 2008 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Kyle Rapinan is a Pride Foundation Scholar! I saw him give an inspirational speech at the last Pride Foundation Scholarship breakfast. He could be the next Harvey Milk, seriously. I wept.

Hey, if you're a community minded person, and would like to consider making a financial contribution to the furthering of the cause -- on the social-fabric level -- you should know about the Pride Foundation. You can learn more about them here:

Pride is the largest Queer Community Foundation in the US, supporting many LGBTQQ (we're really inclusive folks) causes all over the Pacific Northwest. They also give away scholarships to kids and adults who are part of the LGBTQQ and allied community, especially those who have leadership abilities like Kyle Rapinan.

This year, Pride will invest in more future leaders (over $350,000, I think this year alone for scholarships) and community groups, and you can help by bundling your money with others to make larger grants and scholarships possible.

With Pride Foundation you can, literally, finance the movement.
Posted by Josef Krebs on December 3, 2008 at 5:12 PM · Report this
When a paper receives a student subsidy, it has a certain responsibility toward the student body, perhaps not "legally" but ethically and professionally it does. It's just not right to take money from the student body and use it to promote a narrow agenda. Either they need a more balanced student paper, or that $1.2 million funding should be split among multiple student papers to compete for readership.
Posted by Simac on December 3, 2008 at 5:14 PM · Report this
I went to high school with John Fay.

He was a weird Christian then and I don't see that much has changed.
Posted by headlesshorseman on December 3, 2008 at 5:15 PM · Report this
There were alternate papers at the UW but they died because no one read them and, what's more, no one would write for them.
Posted by exelizabeth on December 3, 2008 at 5:44 PM · Report this
@5: I went to school with him too.

That guy is going to die a virgin.
Posted by V on December 3, 2008 at 5:58 PM · Report this
@5: I went to school with him too.

That guy is going to die a virgin.
Posted by V on December 3, 2008 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Is the Daily news staff going to cover the protest?!
Posted by Maggie on December 3, 2008 at 6:32 PM · Report this
Here's the thing, The Student Activities Fees committee (SAF) that oversees the distribution of funds to student organizations, including the Daily, cannot take away funds from the paper. I'm on a mailing list for that committee and they have researched legal precedent concerning this and if they took away the money and the Daily sued over it then the SAF committee would lose to freedom of speech arguments. Both the UW administration and the SAF committee cannot legally punish the paper either financially, through censorship, or any kind of approval process.

Now what the students COULD do, which would be far more damaging, would be to organize the threat of an advertising boycott if they do not issue an apology. Of course when they don't issue it they would have to follow through, but if they manage to get even the UW departments to withhold their advertising...that's a hell of a lot of money...a lot more than what they get from student fees. Hey students, are you listening?
Posted by Usnitch on December 3, 2008 at 6:35 PM · Report this
We are. If the rally does not improve relations we may have to do this.

-Kyle R
Students for a Hate Free Daily
Posted by Kyle R on December 3, 2008 at 7:01 PM · Report this
I miss college. That was some fun shit.
Posted by drewl on December 3, 2008 at 7:22 PM · Report this
A counterpoint to the argument is not the point. There was one, and it was well written. The fact of the matter is that what was publish is inflammatory, offensive to a large population of students that *fund the paper* and COMPLETELY INACCURATE. It should not have been published with or without a counter.
Posted by inrenonowandmissinguw on December 3, 2008 at 7:35 PM · Report this
One thing that can be done is have an opt-outable student fee for the newspaper; students can choose to not fund organizations they don't approve of. Its what we do here at McGill University, I'm not sure if UW has the same policy.

We fund both our student newspapers and QPIRG (Quebec PIRG -- our left-leaning advocacy group on campus) through opt-outable student fees. This way students who don't approve of the message put forth by these organizations don't have to support them, financially. The left-leaning organizations stay afloat because there's broad support for that on our campus. It puts some market-consciousness into our system, and it seems to work.
Posted by Jaya on December 3, 2008 at 7:41 PM · Report this
I think a boycott of advertisers, even a threat of one could be effective.
Posted by elswinger on December 3, 2008 at 7:57 PM · Report this
Working for the Daily was a really bad environment for the two months I tried last year. It was quite hostile-feeling.
Posted by Kris on December 3, 2008 at 7:58 PM · Report this
Campus advertising is $150,000 a year, not $1.5 million. This is not a subsidy. Other advertising that makes up the average $900,000 a year of advertising (all sold by students) includes classifieds, local, and national.

The Daily has been actively working toward independence from student fee subsidy by increasing advertising and through fundraising.
Posted by advertising on December 3, 2008 at 8:03 PM · Report this
@17) You are right. The ad revenue I referred to was supposed to say $150,000. That was a typing error on my part. I've corrected the post. Thank you.
Posted by Dominic Holden on December 3, 2008 at 8:16 PM · Report this
This is like, "small, small fish gets into pond WAAAY over his head and writes stuff that should have been kept in his own thoughts, but can't retract it because he wants to be a Big Time Journalist."
I almost, sorta feel sorry for the guy for writing it. Maybe he just wanted attention?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on December 3, 2008 at 10:36 PM · Report this
I think any anti-homosexual opinion is going to be a hateful, inflammatory, and offensive opinion. Should there be no anti-homosexual opinions published? Frankly, I prefer open discourse, even if that mean bigots like Fay get a mouthpiece for their hate every once and a while.
Posted by Chris A. on December 3, 2008 at 10:48 PM · Report this
The group, calling itself "Students for a Hate Free Daily," is adamant that it doesn’t want to censor the paper, but rather push the editorial leadership to be more inclusive about its viewpoints.
Posted by UW student on December 3, 2008 at 11:28 PM · Report this
@20, Well then they should publish anti-white, anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-blond, anti-female, anti-male and anti-bald opinions too. You can't give bigots a mouthpiece. That's not open discourse. That's just hate.
Posted by another Andy on December 4, 2008 at 12:55 AM · Report this
Dominic, it's fine to say you think its the suxxorz that the Daily is now run by a conservative editor who publishes views you don't like. But don't try to pretend that you are making some principaled argument about the non-subsidization of political hackery. The Daily has had about 40 years of leftist leadership, and I don't believe you ever complained about their subsidy for any of that time.
Posted by David Wright on December 4, 2008 at 1:51 AM · Report this
Clearly some on the staff are spending for a top notch education and might as well be throwing the money down the disposal.
Posted by Vince on December 4, 2008 at 6:45 AM · Report this
I could kick John Fay's ass.
Posted by Mr. Poe on December 4, 2008 at 7:53 AM · Report this
This article is HORRIBLE journalism. People complain that the Daily has a slant? No where in the article does it mention that the opinion piece was part of a weekly side by side, point counter point format which included a pro gay marriage stance. The author of this article fails to mention why the Daily is increasingly conservative, other than a non-sequitur reference to an unrelated political endorsement that happened to be for a republican (MY GOD, NOT IN SEATTLE!). The paper ran a two page feature on drag queens the next week (a feature that was planned far in advance) and has consistently published authors with an uber liberal slant. If anything, the Daily is attempting to move into a more "objective" realm rather than the ultra liberal sensationalism that gives the Stranger all of its hits. I would also like to know where the conclusion that Sarah Jeglum is "right winged" or that she "hijacked" the paper came from. Did you interview staff? Did you observe dynamics in The Daily newsroom? Dominic, you need to learn that when reporting NEWS, keep you personal opinion out of it. That's what the opinion section is for. But I guess since you don't work for a real newspaper, so it's not a big deal.
Posted by SERIOUSLY? get a life stranger. on December 4, 2008 at 8:59 AM · Report this
I stopped reading the Daily a couple of years ago because I was tired of the straight white males on the editorial page whining about how they're so oppressed; it was the anti-affirmative action pieces that were running then that were the last straw for me. This is kind of a problem, though: I'm not sure how to start boycotting the paper over this. Should I pick up a copy and ostentatiously throw it away?

Honestly, my impression of the Daily's editorial page is that it makes an effort to be balanced, and it's pretty much identical to those of the student papers I've seen at other colleges; it seems these kids just need to work through this stuff on their own. Remember, these ideas are all Rational! and Original! and Free-thinking! for the kid who wrote them... even if they're tediously, offensively conventional to us grown-ups. For a lot of students, the college campus is their first real exposure to contemporary, adult public discourse-- and the first time they're forced to realize that their own experience is only a tiny piece of the vast diversity that makes up human experience. This makes some students feel small, and it makes some of them act like assholes.

Of course, we should be protesting this. We should be pointing out how tediously conventional it is; we should be pointing out the logical flaws; we should be pointing out the civil rights ramifications of the issue; we should be pointing out that the author is clearly an asshole. However, the response needs to be one that continues to engage the assholes. Muzzling them doesn't help-- they just bite harder once they get the muzzle off.
Posted by m on December 4, 2008 at 9:22 AM · Report this
OK, this individual opinion piece was ignorant, inaccurate and bigoted. That's worth a protest.

But trying to couple that with the endorsement of Dino Rossi and the appearance of non-liberal viewpoints on the editorial page (gasp!) as a sign that the whole paper is staffed with neocons and should be boycotted, have its funding withdrawn, etc., is bullshit.

And to think we on the left think of the right as closed-minded.
Posted by rjh on December 4, 2008 at 9:54 AM · Report this
I've already said Yes to the event on FB.

Should be fun.
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 4, 2008 at 10:43 AM · Report this
@26: this isn't an article, it's a blog. duh.
Posted by geofre on December 4, 2008 at 1:38 PM · Report this
@2 We have written, we do write. This is a fascist editor who has hijacked the paper. When a group of funidie Ukrainians hijacked their student government at American River College (Sacramento, CA) and called for the passage of Prop. 8, their recall began with such a rally. You are not only a joykiller (who would desire such a moniker?) but a super-cynic. Plus, you are wrong, protests are not a dime a dozen at the UW; you are confusing us with UC Berkeley. Why don't we all just go home, drink herbal tea, and forget this ever happened? Not at my school, not on my watch.
Posted by Ian at the UW on December 5, 2008 at 10:50 AM · Report this

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