Daily Archives: January 23, 2015

A disturbance last month after a Western Illinois University (WIU) Black Student Association dance was captured on video by student journalist Nicholas Stewart. He was suspended as editor-in-chief of WIU’s Western Courier student newspaper after the school learned that he sold melee footage to news outlets.

Nicholas Stewart

Nicholas Stewart

“I am taking this action,” WIU student services vice-president Gary Biller wrote to Stewart, “because I believe that your action as editor-in-chief poses a threat to the normal operations of the university. …In our meeting of December 15, 2014, you admitted to receiving personal compensation for a video that was sold with the banner of ‘Western Courier’ displayed. To date I can find no record of compensation to the University or the Western Courier.”

Retired WIU journalism professor Bill Knight is so angry about the suspension that he feels “like spitting nails.” Here’s an email he distributed Friday afternoon:

From: Bill Knight
Date: Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 2:05 PM
Subject: administrator suspends Western Courier kid for doing journalism

Hi: Below are two links [here and here] to stories this week about a WIU administrator who found a loophole to punish a Courier editor for covering a protest that turned into a melee, which got a little national attention — and he was compensated for his freelance work. …

This incident may not get as much notice, but it’s idiotic. I feel like drafting a note and listing some of our names/gigs to send to WIU’s president and Board president. What do you think?

I feel like spitting nails… Forward to anyone you think might seize up a bit, too.

Bill Knight

Knight tells me in an email that “this seems like an overreaction followed by overkill.” He adds:

I think if the news footage Stewart shot would’ve shown sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, the University would not have investigated, much less suspended the student journalist.

The WIU student newspaper manual says freelance work has to be approved beforehand, but it doesn’t say by whom, and since he’s been doing similar video work for some time (as a freelancer, mostly weather-related, and with student broadcasting: News/WIUTV) there’s precedence/past practice.

I asked Biller over the phone this afternoon what Stewart did that made him “a threat to normal operations of the university”; he declined to say. I told the administrator that I suspected the editor was being punished because his entrepreneurship resulted in some bad PR for the school. Biller denied that.

How much was Stewart paid his video footage? I asked Biller.

Gary Biller

Gary Biller

“I don’t know,” he said. Biller told me he never asked the amount when he met with Stewart.

“You’re getting the school auditor involved in this,” I said, “and you didn’t even ask how much money this involved?”

Biller said it didn’t matter if it was $10 or $10,000, and declined to say more.

I’ve invited Stewart to comment on the university’s actions. He told his newspaper that “at no point did they [the university] actually ask me to give them the money. … they never came back and said, ‘Hey you need to give your money to the university.’ I also never even received all of the money I made off the video.”

Update: The suspended editor-in-chief writes in an email:

“Earlier this morning, Biller clarified the actual codes I allegedly broke in the code of conduct when I asked since they were not written clearly in the letter informing me of my suspension:

Section D.17e, “Committing acts of dishonesty, including but not limited to, the following: attempting to represent the University, any recognized student organization, or any official University group without the explicit prior consent of the officials of that group”.

Section D.19g, “Engaging in act of theft or abuse of computer time, including, but not limited to: unauthorized financial gain or commercial activity”.
Section D.23, “Committing violations of rules and regulations duly established and promulgated by other University departments”.

“The internal auditing department sent me an email requesting we meet on Monday. I have not responded yet as I’m still working with the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) to get legal representation for this meeting.”

* Student editor suspended from duties after selling video of brawl ( | (
* Read the letter that Biller wrote to the student editor (

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From April 2013

Posted today on

“I don’t want to speak ill of the dying, but what is the plausible audience in such a magazine?” asks journalist Kurt Andersen. “It was too kind of nitty-gritty and old-fashioned, back-to-the-land hippie magazine for the food-farm porn market, and yet too ‘What about the dairy situation in the Philippines?’ for people who are really raising chickens for a living.”

* Modern Farmer ceases publication after staff walks out (
* Earlier: Here comes Modern Farmer, a print quarterly (


Sports Illustrated: “Our commitment to photography is as strong as ever, and we will continue to create the best original content possible.”

Strong as ever? No it isn’t, Sports Illustrated – not when you lay off every one of your photographers.

SI photography director Brad Smith says:

We’re still going to cover games, we’re going to shoot portraits, we’re going to cover Olympics, we’ll be at the Final Four, we will be at championships, we’ll be there.

In my grandest thoughts I hope [the laid off photographers] will continue to contribute to the magazine. I can’t imagine a world where they don’t. We just have to figure out what this new structure is.

The new structure is this: You’ll no longer pay benefits or salaries to photographers and you’ll hope these veterans will continue to fill your pages as freelancers who are struggling to make ends meet.

* Sports Illustrated lays off all staff photographers (

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From a Q&A with former Chrysler, Ford and Nissan publicist Jason Vines:

I’ve invited Keith Bradsher to respond. (He’s now reporting from Hong Kong, and it was shortly after midnight there when I contacted him.) Meanwhile, Times automobiles editor James G. Cobb tells Romenesko readers:

Keith Bradsher is one of the brightest, most driven reporters I know …and few auto reporters have had as much impact on the industry. Trucks & SUVs are safer because of their “Bradsher bars.” Not many reporters have safety features named for them!

Update: Bradsher tells Romenesko readers:

Jason and I have had many cheerful conversations over the years, so I was sorry to see his remark calling me a prick.

Keith Bradsher

Keith Bradsher

The truth is that I’ve always been quietly grateful to him for one thing over the years, and sort of owe him one. It dates back to when Ford added hollow steel beams below and behind the bumpers of the giant Ford Excursion SUV to reduce the risk that they would override the front ends of cars in collisions, and began modifying other SUVs as well. Ford had done crash tests after my initial articles ran, and Ford engineers discovered that without the bars, the Excursion would run right over the front end of their own Ford Taurus mid-sized sedan and plow through the passenger compartment. With the bars, the Excursion engaged the Taurus crumple zones and a head-on collision became very survivable for crash dummies in the Taurus. Jason organized a press conference at which Ford showed videos of the crash tests with and without the beams. To a group of other reporters on the sidelines of that press conference, although not to me, Jason said that Ford engineers referred internally to the bars as “Bradsher bars”. That effectively coined the term, and I still appreciate it.

If Jason comes through Hong Kong, I’ll certainly invite him to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and try to buy him a beer.

* Jason Vines zings NYT’s Keith Bradsher ( | The Car & Driver Q&A | (

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* Headline Ave., near the Albuquerque Journal. ( | That’s better than the dead end Newspaper Rd. (
* Sports Illustrated lays off its last six staff photographers. (
* Michael Bloomberg: I want to buy the New York Times. Arthur Sulzberger Jr.: Sorry, it’s not for sale. (
* Time for the Times to start printing vulgarities when they’re used by newsmakers? ( | FYI: The AP uses “pee” in tweets. (@scottcharton)
* CBC no longer allows its on-air journalists to make paid appearances. (
* Bob Dylan gives an exclusive to AARP Magazine. (
* Zanny Minton-Beddoes was the only woman who applied for The Economist’s editor-in-chief job. (
* Cleveland’s police chief talks to “60 Minutes,” but snubs local reporters. (
* Loyola University Maryland’s student newspaper gains 750 Twitter followers by live-tweeting a hearing about a disorderly campus bar. (@loyolagreyhound) | “Student journalism at its finest.” (@JonMeoli)
* “They’re embarrassing themselves” at CNBC, says former CNBC star Maria Bartiromo. (
* Watch Vivian Schiller and David Folkenflik chat about innovative media companies and other things. (
* Can the newspaper industry reverse its long slump? (
* Jezebel staffers fear that The Awl publishing their seating chart threatens their safety. (
* The Advocate says it’s overtaken the Times-Picayune as Louisiana’s largest newspaper. (
* SkyMall catalog files for bankruptcy. (No reason to page through it now that planes have Wi-Fi.) ( | (
* Clark County uses its website for an “unusual public rebuke” of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (
* The Review-Journal temporarily shuts off comments due to “an increase in uncivil behavior and dialogue.” (
* Northeastern University’s School of Journalism partners with Boston’s Fox affiliate. (
* An “awful” Pennsylvania law bars convicts from discussing their crimes with journalists and others if it causes their victims anguish. (