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I was searching for university-related blogs today, and instead happened upon this, a thread started in the forums at Free Republic bashing Shawn Redden and explaining why he was banned from the site. Apparently someone on there used an article of his as an example of unclear thinking of one sort or another, and he wrote back a biting email denouncing the site and its denizens and asking them to remove his works from their site.

The first post in the thread contains the text of his email and a brief explanation, after which follow 299 posts bashing Redden, the newspaper, the university, and various spelling errors. I posted a fairly well-received response, post #301, after reading the entire thread and coming to the conclusion that someone needed to rebut their arguments against the newspaper:

"'Lo FReepers. I'm the current copy chief of the newspaper here at the university, and I, too, recognize that the paper isn't the best that it could be. I would, however, like to address some of the things that've been said so far in this thread. I've seen a lot of assumptions made about the newspaper, the university, and our stance on Shawn Redden (a male, by the way), and while some of those assumptions are completely correct, others are far from the truth.

Here's the deal: we students don't like reading Shawn Redden's drivel any more than you do. Just reading through the hundreds of posts in this thread, I've learned a lot more about the guy's motivations, so now I feel even more justified in having written this letter to the editor (of my own paper, yes) a while back telling Redden to, in short, shut up:

[my letter to the editor here]

This was published in an issue a while back, and apparently acquaintances have taken to mocking him, asking him things like, "Are those noodles you're eating fascist noodles, Shawn?"

In any case, here's the deal with the newspaper. Yes, it's somewhat of a crappy college rag. Despite our $350,000/year budget, incorporated status, and paid editorial staff, we still hardly meet bottom-barrel standards. This year we increased the number of times the paper is published, but it still only comes out three times a week. When I visited this university during my senior year of high school, I picked up a copy of the paper, leafed through it, then copy-edited it then and there. (Believe me, it used to be worse.) I decided that when I came here, I'd try to make the paper better. I started writing for the paper last fall, and since then I've moved up through the ranks of contributing reporter, staff reporter, and copy editor to occupy the position of copy chief (a new position this year, actually, created so that I could have leeway to critique the paper and rip it apart each production night). I work hard to get the paper even in as good of shape as you see it now.

I'm not, however, responsible for the website that many of you have had occasion to visit. I apologize—that actually used to look good and load better than it does now, in contrast to the improvement seen in the rest of the paper's endeavors.

A few more things: 1. We're not under the umbrella of the university, so your tax dollars don't fund us. I'm pretty sure we subsist on advertising revenues, though I could be wrong. In any case, we've been an independent corporation since 1995, though our offices are still on campus in a space that's traditionally been ours. 2. The university is in St. Louis, Mo., not the Pacific Northwest. 3. I'm also pretty sure that authors retain the copyright to their works. The newspaper retains the right to edit submissions for content, etc., so perhaps in their edited form submissions might be considered the paper's property, but otherwise we can do what we want with our articles. 4. We at the paper don't particularly like Redden—but we respect his right to foam at the mouth and rant pointlessly if he wants. That and the opinion section is article-starved.

As copy chief, I'm trying to make the paper better, but for better or worse, the paper will only be as good as its writers are. At best, it's still a college newspaper. There's no getting around that. For some reason we've got a particularly awful crop of writers at the moment, and we're top-heavy, with too many good writers simply occupying berths in editorial positions. So it goes, for now.

I realize that not all of you care about the paper aside from the fact that we provide space for Shawn Redden's rants, but I wanted to clarify those few issues. Thanks for reading."

That was fun. Replies thus far include:

"This alum of the Wash U. law school thanks you for your post."



Thank you for your post! I hope you didn't get the idea that we paint everybody there at the university with the same broad brush we used to lambaste Shawn. I think we all know he's a bit farther out than most folks there."


"Very well written! It appears that the paper does have something going for it. A little thing you may want to pass on to Herr Redden in regards to:

Who are these "corrupt, hypocritical, religious fundamentalist, crypto-fascist war profiteers"?

Please remind him to include neanderthal in his description of conservatives.

We worked hard to earn that title and I'm a little hurt that he can't be bothered to throw one more little adjective in there.



10:40 am, November 19, 2003 :: the jablog years

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