When you point a finger there are always three pointing back at you.
In covering the weeks, months and now year following Robert Champion’s death, The Famuan is in a recovery mode. Some who were wary of having their names appear on our pages are finally coming around. And the days of campus-wide persecution have subsided. We cannot help but wonder what brought on the firestorm in the first place.
If it is a question of credibility, then that is perfectly understandable. All media outlets strive to establish, maintain and/or improve their credibility daily. The same goes for The Famuan. We work hard to ensure the accuracy of our pages and we sometimes have errors. There is not a publication on this campus, let alone this planet, that has been completely error free, 100 percent of the time.
As adults we should be able to recognize the difference between someone making a mistake and a libelous defamatory claim. The mistakes that The Famuan has made in covering Champion’s death and the events that followed should not have warranted public humiliation to be dealt out by university officials for the entire student body to see. There are journalists working in the Middle East who have faced less persecution.
Some feel that because we are the school newspaper, it is our job to always present the university in a positive light. That notion is incorrect. It is not the job of any news publication to present anything but the news, positive or negative. Some felt that The Famuan should have protected the university by not reporting what was going on. As journalists, we have learned that hiding information to persuade the public into a certain belief is unethical. So we decided to do what we do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and publish what is going on at Florida A&M.
The moments following Champion’s death were pivotal to the future of FAMU. The decisions made thereafter have shaped our present and future. While this served as a defining moment for some, others needed someone to blame. The Famuan became the scapegoat for many people. While our Student Government Association threatened to reduce us to an online publication, some members of the student body felt that Twitter was an adequate platform to voice their disdain for us.
The front page of every Famuan says “The Student Voice of Florida A&M University since 1900.” This means that our doors and our pages are open to any and all who want to write. Those who complain about the quality of The Famuan and have not even contributed so much as a quote to its pages are part of the problem, not the solution. As students at this school, everyone should want to see its entities succeeding. When the football team needs our support, we put on our T-shirts and yell in unison in the stands. Why should it be any different for The Famuan, which relies on the student body’s Activity and Service fees to run?
The problem is that should not be. If The Famuan needs better writers then be that better writer. Step outside of your 140 characters and say something that people will actually pay attention to.