A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


By Quill

Editor fired for apology letter
Brian Gomez was fired as sports editor of The State Press, the student newspaper at Arizona State University, for apologizing to university officials for an editorial the paper ran.

The editorial, which ran Oct. 18, criticized a university program called the Sun Devil Recruiters. The athletic department program uses volunteers, attractive co-eds, to show athletic recruits around campus. The unsigned article did not just comment on the program, but went on to state: “Maybe rather than volunteers, we should just be honest and call them ‘hos to attract the bros.’ “ The editorial ended with this line: “At least Heidi Fleiss had a little more respect than that.”

Gomez, outraged by the opinion piece, complained to the editorial’s author, Editor in Chief Jessica Wanke. After a one-week suspension, Gomez still had his job – until he sent an apology letter to ASU Football Coach Dirk Koetter and Athletic Director Gene Smith appeared on thesundevils.com, an ASU Web site. He was then fired as sports editor for the paper.

Student columnist defends position
A standing-room-only crowd assembled Oct. 30 at a forum held at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha to discuss a controversial newspaper column that ran in the campus paper, the Observer.

More than 200 students attended the nearly two-hour forum, which was held so students could respond to the column that linked African-American culture with a deadly mob attack in Milwaukee. The column was about the Sept. 29 mob beating and death of Charlie Young Jr. Young and his attackers, most of whom were juveniles, were black.

Columnist Dan Hubert, assistant editor of the Observer, wrote a column that blamed aspects of African-American lifestyles for the beating death. Hubert wrote that the incident could be blamed on black Milwaukeeans who live on welfare, have children out of wedlock and even dress in certain types of clothing.

Hubert apologized for offending readers at the forum, but he insisted that he intended the commentary to speak out on behalf of the victim. “If you want to be mad at someone, don’t be mad at me,” Hubert said. “Be mad at the monsters who beat Charlie Young’s brains out.” He added: “I’m not sorry for standing up for Charlie Young. And I’m not sorry for standing up for what I believe in.”

While some agreed with Hubert and even more defended his First Amendment rights, most agreed that the editorial was racist in its stereotypes and blanket statements about African-Americans.

Vermont paper fires editor over sourcing
The Times Argus in Barre, Vt., has dismissed the managing editor because a heroin-addicted teenage prostitute he wrote about cannot be found. Publisher R. John Mitchell said an investigation started after readers began to question the authenticity of the story.

“It was brought to our attention that some of the details of the story were not accurate or true and we checked them out,” Mitchell said. “It turns out they were not true. The person in the story, it wasn’t proven that she exists.”

Managing Editor Scott Fletcher, author of the five-part series, stands by the source’s existence. An encounter with a 16-year-old girl, identified as DeeDee, takes place in a park in Montpelier, and suggests she propositioned men for sex to pay for heroin.

“What I was looking for was a local person who was involved with heroin,” Fletcher said. “In the course of interviewing eight, nine, 10 people, I met this young woman.”

No one – including Fletcher – has been able to locate the girl since the story appeared.

Tagged under: