The president of University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s student government claims his organization has the constitutional right to name the school’s newspaper’s top editor, and says it will do that at a June 4 meeting. (For many years, a panel of professors, journalists and students has chosen the editor-in-chief of the Rebel Yell.)
UNLV journalism professor and Rebel Yell Advisory Board member Mary Hausch points out:
It’s a peril for any news entity to derive its authority from a government entity. It’s an intolerable situation for student journalists to be placed in. …I cannot encourage my students to work on a newspaper where the editor is chosen by the student government.
This is from the Rebel Yell’s story on the controversy:
Jami Vallesteros, chair of the RYAB [Rebel Yell Advisory Board], said he’s spoken with journalists, both outside and within UNLV, who find the appointment of an editor-in-chief by the student government problematic.
“I think the consensus is that it’s unethical for a government entity to be controlling a supposedly independent paper,” Vallesteros said. “The key here is to not have CSUN appoint editors.”
Mark Ciavola, the 37-year-old student government president who also serves as Nevada College Republicans chairman, says he wants to see that student fees are spent responsibly and doesn’t intend to influence editorial decisions.
“The idea that we’re supposed to fund half the budget and they don’t want us appointing the editor-in-chief because of independence is laughable.” (The paper gets about $111,000 a year from student fees.)