'Anti-university' story pulled from campus paper

July 17, 2008

The University of Sunderland has been accused of censoring a student newspaper article critical of the university.

As part of their coursework, journalism undergraduates write articles for a newspaper called The Wear, which is distributed on campus.

Fraser McClennan, a second-year student, wrote an article that raised concerns about a lack of assistance given by the university to students leaving halls of residence and seeking private accommodation.

Jamie Smith, the paper's student editor, said he was told on The Wear's press day by Kevin Overbury, a journalism lecturer, that the story would have to be pulled. "Kevin said that because Fraser's story was anti-university we couldn't print it, as (the university) wanted to use (the paper) as a promotional tool," Mr Smith said.

"I understand why the university wants to use the newspaper for promotional purposes, and it is a taste of the real world for journalists to have stories pulled, but as the editor of the publication, I wanted to see (it) in the paper," he said.

Mr McClennan wrote to Guy Starkey, associate dean of the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, to complain that the university was "undermining the core values of journalism".

Dr Starkey replied: "You will be aware, I'm sure, that newspaper journalists often have to work within constraints imposed upon them by their proprietors and editors. If you work for a Murdoch paper you probably don't do a piece that knocks Sky very often, for instance!" He advised the student to try to place the story elsewhere.

Mr Overbury was not available for comment.

Chris Rushton, head of journalism at the university, said: "This edition of The Wear splashed on a story about plans being late for a new student bar - hardly an example of kowtowing to university authorities."

He said Mr McClennan's story was "a controversial issue that required more work".

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show