June 21, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Student Journalist Strategize for Fall

Johnson County Community College
Wednesday, June 21, 2006


OVERLAND PARK – As student journalists attending Johnson County Community College, we must inform our readers that we will not pursue publishing The Campus Ledger either in print or online this summer.
Despite efforts from our supporters to cover the inflated expenses the board cited at their June 15 board meeting, we cannot accept these donations. Taxpayers should not have to provide additional funding when the true budgeted figures show The Ledger has funds to cover publication. In addition, working on The Ledger without pay as the trustees suggested would violate college policy.
We did not make this decision lightly. Defending ourselves from the attacks of the trustees and the college’s lawyers while scrambling to secure alternative funding for a new publication could compromise our journalistic standards. We are unwilling to gamble our integrity or our reader’s trust. After all, this staff initiated a 13-month investigation that broke the story of former president Charles Carlsen’s alleged sexual harassment that lead to his resignation/retirement.
The Ledger
not only stands as the voice of students, it stands as the voice for the campus community. Our purpose in investigating and reporting this summer was, and remains, to cover these important, far-reaching stories in The Ledger. Covering this story requires a lot of time and energy. We have to manage the college’s army of lawyers and administrators while attending to our responsibilities as students, employees, and family members.
We must thank members of the campus community and of the press who support freedom of speech and who stand committed to help us in the fight against censorship. We also extend thanks to those who came to our offices, sent letters and e-mails and to our silent supporters as well. Your support helps illuminate the Board of Trustees’ manipulations of funds, students, employees, and the residents of Johnson County. You’ve strengthened our resolve to continue reporting the story that began as in investigation into unlawful harassment but grew to encompass, policy violations, cover-ups, Kansas Open Records Act violations and now censorship.
Clearly, our mistake as student journalists came in trusting that the trustees would embrace this teachable moment by allowing the campus community access to information on the appointment of an interim president and the search for a permanent president.
We accept this opportunity to continue our in-depth investigations, to analyze our censorship concerns, and to regroup as a staff for the fall. We invite the media to continue reporting the events at the college and with our supporters and our readers to continue asking the hard questions.