Moving on after controversy

Photo by Andrea Huls
Flagler students protested a perceived censorship issue of the Gargoyle April 13, 2007.

Abare approves governing document, mission for The Gargoyle

By Brittany Hackett |

After a controversial ending to the 2007 spring semester, The Gargoyle is moving forward with a new governing document and policy statement.

An issue arose in the spring semester after a story about a controversial proposal for Club Unity, a version of the Gay-Straight Alliance, was not published.

Gargoyle Mission and Governing Document
Photo Gallery: Protest

The issue was over the editing of the story by administration, and Gargoyle editors chose not to run the story. The issue prompted a protest in front of the college gates by approximately 100 students and a host of local media attention.

The Gargoyle’s adviser, Brian Thompson, proposed a written mission statement and governing document to President William T. Abare, Jr., as a solution to future controversies involving the newspaper. Abare said he liked the idea and told Thompson to go forward with it. The paper, Thompson said, needed a “concrete” mission to solidify its purpose and an advisory board to “help diffuse situations” like the one the paper was facing.

“I sat there and I said, ‘If this is truly more of a misunderstanding than it is a devious effort to go and change stuff, then an advisory board could have stepped in and said ‘OK, everybody, what’s the problem here and more importantly how do we fix it?’ ” Thompson said.

“I think that in many ways it will address some of the issues that have come up in the past in terms of The Gargoyle and articles in The Gargoyle and the role of the adviser, the role of the editors,” Abare said. “I hope from my standpoint it will be a way to enhance the educational experience of the students.”

On Aug. 7 the governing document for the newspaper was adopted, as well as the paper’s first mission statement. The governing document defines the roles of publisher, adviser, and editor of the newspaper, and established a seven-member advisory board to The Gargoyle. The board’s purpose is to “offer guidance, advice, and counsel to the student staff and the adviser and will serve as a sounding board for journalistic, ethical, or other questions that the student staff or the adviser may raise from time to time,” according to the document.

Abare said he sees the advisory board as a way to work with the newspaper adviser and student editors to make The Gargoyle a better newspaper and learning experience.

“I think the key is to make sure the lines of communication are kept open,” Abare said. “My expectation is one of optimism. If I had less than an optimistic view I would not have considered some kind of a change in the administration and how we operate the newspaper.”

“I do think it’s kind of a change in direction for The Gargoyle and I’m really excited about that,” said Dr. Tracy Halcomb, chair of the Communication Department. Halcomb, who also worked on the document, said the changes would allow the newspaper to remain an educational tool for Flagler’s journalism students.

“I have a really positive feeling about The Gargoyle and I think The Gargoyle will be stronger and continue to do good journalism,” Halcomb said.

Glenn Judah, the paper’s former editor who resigned at the end of last semester, said although he has permanently left the paper to pursue other interests, he is hopeful the paper can continue to move forward.

Judah, a senior communication major, said he did not want to spend his last year at Flagler possibly “running into the same problem.” He currently has an internship with The St. Augustine Record and hopes the educational value of The Gargoyle will remain its focus.

The Gargoyle is about developing students and showing what journalism is about and how hard it is,” Judah said. “The purpose of it is to learn. If you can’t do that, then something needs to change.”

Thompson said he is torn by how much the new document really changes the way The Gargoyle operates. What it really does, according to Thompson, is put what the paper has already been doing into writing.

The Gargoyle has been going through massive changes in the last three or four years and it’s really moving in the direction of what a newspaper should be,” said Thompson, adding that the new document emphasizes the educational importance of The Gargoyle.

“I’m glad there’s a mission statement and I’m glad I think there’s a future,” Judah said. “I hope it works because that would be great for The Gargoyle.”

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