Student-Newspaper Staff Goes on Strike at U. of Oregon

March 04, 2009

The editorial staff of the student newspaper at the University of Oregon went on strike at 6 a.m. today. The staff of the Oregon Daily Emerald has made a list of demands, and until the paper’s Board of Directors complies, the strike will continue, according to the paper’s Web site.

In an editorial published today, the Emerald’s top two editors outlined what they perceived as board actions that were contrary to the interests of the newspaper. One such action was the board’s hiring of Steven A. Smith, former editor in chief of The Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Wash., as publisher.

The editors’ concerns include their perception that Mr. Smith would have authority over editorial content. In their demands to the board, they asked that the offer to Mr. Smith be rescinded.

Later this morning, however, Mr. Smith “withdrew from the fray.” Both on his personal blog and in an e-mail message posted on the Romenesko news blog of the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based organization for journalists, Mr. Smith said he would end his involvement with the paper.

Robert D’Andrea, news editor of the Emerald, said the staff would like to talk with the board about the remaining demands.

The board, in an e-mail message Tuesday night that was published in the editorial, seemed unmoved by the staff’s action: “Acceding to these demands would essentially dissolve the structure of the corporation. Furthermore, the board refuses to be bullied and blackmailed,” the message said. —Steven Bushong