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Stall Meeting Gives Closure To Misunderstanding

March 11, 2013 by admin

 

By Daniel Natale
 
 “Let me preface this by saying that this is to be a conversation, not a bashing session,” said Arts and Communications Dean William Burns, addressing a room of about 25 people, including students, faculty and staff at The Stall meeting Tuesday. “This story was written in order to raise awareness for a threat on campus, and it was undeniably newsworthy.”  Burns’ words kicked off a discussion regarding the Feb. 21 issue of The Stall, which caused controversy around several Brookdale campuses.
   The controversy began when Charanne Smith, the director of the Neptune Higher Education Center, called the front page of the paper into question at the Feb. 26 Governance meeting.
   Smith found the story with the headline, “WANTED: Suspect Sought For Attempted Theft Outside LAH,’’ and an artist’s drawing of the suspect offensive as the lead story on an issue of the paper labeled “Black History Month 2013.”
    Many of the forum agreed. In fact, in an email sent to the editor of The Stall on March 4, BCC President Maureen Murphy referred to “the collegewide outrage over this last issue.”
   As Smith began to speak on Tuesday, it became clear that her intentions coincided with Burns. Although she was offended by the story’s juxtaposition, she said that she was not interested in embarrassing anybody or tarnishing anybody’s name. 
   ”We want this to be a learning situation,” Smith said.Smith said that she agreed that the story was newsworthy, and that it should have been in the paper. However, she was upset that the story made the front page and believed that it was presented in an insensitive matter. 
   “It’s not a matter of changing content, it’s about changing layout,” said Sondra Cannon, manager of diversity inclusion and compliance. “This particular issue is about impact and intent. You were not trying to disparage a particular group. You wanted to make an impact that had a different intent than the impact that it caused.” 
   However, some Brookdale students present at the meeting did not see any problems with the story. 
   “It was a crime, and it needed to be reported. I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple or yellow, the man committed a crime, and they were right to report it,” said Joe Reyes, a journalism student.
   “For those of you who aren’t of color, you might not know how difficult this is for a person of color to see,” said Meghan Ingstrup, a student service generalist. Ingstrup said that a news story on a minority, unfortunately, is too often seen as being more representative of the population, than a news story on a white person. 
   In the headline, The Stall used a font reminiscent of the Old West wanted signs. Smith and Cannon explained that this could be seen as offensive as those posters were often used to locate runaway slaves.
   “I never connected the title with Black History Month. I simply saw it as an attempt to generate awareness for a threat on campus,” said journalism student Jeanne Donnelly.
   Joe Malanaphy, the editor of The Stall, said the story was written strictly as a news story with no intended racial undertones
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