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Cal State University Times

January 02, 1988

The future survival of the University Times is not the main issue surrounding press freedom, as much as concerted attempts by both the university and student body governments to manipulate and control news flow. This has been the practice at Cal State Los Angeles for at least the last five years, and something must be done to stop it.

From 1983 to 1985 I was the UT's special assignment reporter and specialized in hard news and investigative reporting. I pride myself on having broken several important award-winning stories in that time, but often did so with high-level administrators making blatant and unsuccessful moves to prevent critical stories of the university from being published. This frequently involved closed-door meetings with faculty advisers to have certain stories killed, although they ran nonetheless.

The recent method of control strikes right at the paper's heart: Both administrators and student body government representatives have a say in who becomes editor, which is a clear conflict-of-interest.

Much of the UT's fighting with the Associated Students lies in President Eric Peacock's complaint of lack of UT accountability for stories he considers in violation of the Communications Code. If Peacock feels his complaints of libel and/or inaccuracy are valid, he need only file a suit in court to address his grievances. Toying with the news staff and its stories is not the way to do it.

The practice of administrative and student government members on the board has occasionally led in the past to choosing some editors-in-chiefs who did not have hard news acumen.

This is just fine to a public information head like Ruth Goldway who wants to turn the UT into a public relations tabloid for the university--meaning no negative or critical news, only favorable PR articles.

This is indeed distressing on a campus rocked with scandals over the last few years. Much malfeasance at CSULA still remains unreported. I've talked to literally hundreds of people on campus who cannot talk openly of campus malfeasance for fear of administrative retaliation. It is the UT's job to seek and expose such corruption.

The UT must move to become independent (both fiscally and politically) of campus influences if this goal is to be realized.

MICHAEL JOHN ROTSTAN

Los Angeles

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