By President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D.
September 10, 2015
It is with compassion, and a sincere desire to ensure that I address recent concerns expressed by our student journalists, that I write this letter.
The opinion column by Reggie Mizell that was published in The Famuan on Sept. 3, 2015 has led to the misperception that my Administration is creating a “new” newspaper that is designed to replace the student-run paper as the voice of our student body.
The fact is, the University is not creating a “new” newspaper; it is merely updating and upgrading its existing online news site, famunews.com.
The site is powered by the Office of Communications and External Relations and receives more than 300,000 hits a year. Mr. Mizell’s article, unfortunately, took my responses to questions about plans for the then-uncompleted site out of context. So, the goal of this letter is to provide clarification.
There has been a clarion cry for a news platform that better provides updates for official communications from the University’s Administration regarding the activities of the entire campus community, especially in light of various blogs and other social media pages that misreport information about the University. This revamped site is our response.
Renewing our presence in this space is exciting and important to our community and is certainly not a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and does not or will not inhibit student expression. It simply is a part of our efforts to modernize our brand, implement the best and current practices for online publishing, and further spread our message.
I respect the role of an independent student-run newspaper, and this site is separate and distinct from The Famuan. In fact, many universities have an official administration news site and an official student-run news site.
Indeed, The Famuan and other student-run organizations are essential to the University’s goal to provide the most well-rounded, educational experience possible to students so that they can be competitive in the 21st-century global economy. Universities exist solely to educate their students, and this University encourages our students to gain as much experience as possible in their fields of study. The Famuan has been successful in providing that opportunity and has a storied, award-winning legacy of producing some of the nation’s top journalists.
All of the work to update our existing site, so that it is enhances the University’s brand, was done in-house by existing staff. The cost incurred beyond the pre-existing budget for up-keeping and maintaining our current site: $70.00.
There was never any intent to hide the updating or re-launch of our news site. At the time that I was questioned about the site, it was still being finalized and being prepared for a test-launch. The site is designed to serve as a vehicle to provide informative and positive updates about the exciting things happening at the University as a whole and to further tell our unique and inspirational story. Users will also have the opportunity to sign up to have information from the site delivered to their email inboxes.
It is important to note that the existing news site contains links to student media including The Famuan, FAMU TV-20, and WANM 90.5 FM, and the updated site will continue to promote these links.
It should also be noted that I frequently participate in student media interviews, and on the first day of class, one of the first places I visited was the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, spending time talking with students eager to begin the school year. I believe in our journalism and graphic communication students, just as I believe in all of our students.
Additionally, the Office of Communications and External Relations has a documented history of offering multiple professional development opportunities to students from the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication each semester, and I am positive that it will continue to do so as we reach the official site launch.
I hope this letter sheds light on my Administration’s ongoing support of not only our student journalists but also all of our bright and talented students.
We look forward to enhancing our reach, and working with our students, as we continue to renew and revitalize our excellence as a collective University community.