Thursday, November 15, 2007

Daily O'Collegian staff won't post to Web site

The newspaper staff of The Daily O'Collegian at Oklahoma State University has stopped providing content from the print edition to its own Web site because of a dispute over hiring practices.

Students are publishing a daily print newspaper, but stories and photos are not being posted on, the newspaper's Web site.

The dispute stems from a decision by the Student Publications Board, which oversees all publications on campus, to grant power to the Web site's adviser, a nonstudent, to hire and Web site contributors, according to a letter in Monday's print edition from Editor-in-Chief Jenny Redden.

“This action goes against the heart of a student-run publication,” she wrote. “If students control a publication, they must have the ability to hire and fire employees of that publication. When nonstudents are afforded this power, the publication is no longer student-run. It belittles me and the other editors in the newsroom, undermining our authority to the point that we are ineffectual. … What is our recourse? We can fire them, but they can in turn seek employment at the Web site.”

Fritz Wirt, the O'Collegian's general manager, told Uwire that the print and online editions have operated separately for 12 years and have different editors. Both news organizations and their content are owned by the O’Collegian Publishing Company.

As Bryan Murley notes on the Innovation in College Media blog, this is an unusual management structure, one that really doesn't make sense in this era of converged news operations.

The print news staff is posting stories on MySpace and Facebook.

The O'Collegian Web site has a poll this week asking: "Do you agree with the newsroom's move to withhold content from the web office and migrate to Facebook and MySpace instead?"

Of the 421 people who had voted as of this writing, 71 percent said "No" and 29 percent said "Yes."

The Web site also offers this note of explanation under the heading "What's Going On?"

"There have been some interesting developments inside the offices of The Daily O'Collegian. In short, the newsroom has started a protest and is withholding all content from the Web site. Please be patient in the coming days. We do not know how long this will last. Our goal remains to provide not only a means of accessing the more than 30,000 stories we have available, but to supply breaking news when it happens with or without the content of the printed newspaper. Please comment on this story with any suggestions, we would greatly appreciate them." was started in 1995 as a student honors program project and has been on the Web since the Fall 1996 semester, according to the Web site. "A student organizing group chose the ocolly online web name to differentiate it from the printed Daily O’Collegian, although virtually all of the local news, information and entertainment online content is provided from Daily O’Collegian printed editions," the Web site says.

Best wishes to the staff of the Daily O'Collegian and to straighten this out and provide the Oklahoma State University with the coverage -- online and in print -- it deserves.

Thanks to Andrew Young, editorial director of UWIRE, for the story tip.

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