Liberty from Leavey

By the

February 24, 2005

The Voice’s bigger, uglier sister publication is all grown up and asking to move out from under the University’s wing.

Last spring, the Hoya’s general board voted to move the paper toward independence, and according to Hoya’s Chairman of the Board of Directors Josh Zumbrun (SFS ‘05), the paper’s leadership is currently in talks with the administration to resolve the question. With independence, the newspaper’s editors would have full financial and editorial control.

The Hoya is right to seek autonomy-truly objective journalism comes only with independence from authority.

“A newspaper should be independent of the institution it is covering,” Hoya editor-in-chief Nick Timiraos (CAS ‘06) said.

While Georgetown’s administration could not be accused of maintaining a red pen when it comes to student journalism, there have been relatively recent cases of near-censorship. In 1989 the Hoya and the Voice both stopped publication in protest of the administration’s decision not to allow the Voice to publish a pro-choice advertisement. Several years ago, the administration refused to back the Voice in a legal dispute over a controversial article, effectively stifling publication.

Currently, all three of Georgetown’s major newspapers receive an annual budget from the Media Board, which is composed of students and faculty.

While Timiraos insisted that there was no specific reason for the Hoya’s drive for independence, he said that the newspaper’s board was frustrated with the Media Board and wanted to have more control over the newspaper’s publication schedule and finances. They also wanted to be able to pay staff members.

According to Timiraos the newspaper generated $250,000 in revenue last year, $70,000 of which was pure profit but had to be returned to the University.

Both Timiraos and Zumbrun shied away from discussing the details of their talks with the University; Timiraos said, however, that he hoped to see the paper go independent by the fall 2005 semester.

Over 100 college newspapers nationwide are independent, including The Hatchet at George Washington University, which became the property of the private Hatchet Corporation in 1993.

Hatchet editor-in-chief Brian Costa said that the paper had grown stronger with the responsibility of independence.

“We take full responsibility for what we serve up,” he said. “And we experience all the benefits.”

Undoubtedly adding to Costa’s enthusiasm for his independent newspaper was the fact that mid-level editors at the paper make between $30 and $100 per issue. Costa refused to disclose his own yearly salary.

To put that in perspective, consider that the top dog at the Voice makes less than $500. For the entire semester.

Samantha Friedman will return to Saxa Politica on March 17.

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