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Red and Back?

Photo of Auburn summer journalism workshop alum and former (and future?) Red and Black editor Polina Marinova back in the day.

What a 48 hours for the Red and Black staff.  Here is a quick update.  You can read yesterday’s post for the background.  The Red and Black had scheduled an open house for new staff members Friday that quickly turned into a media event that ended up closed to the media.  From what I can glean from the various reports, here is what happened.

(By the way, the short story is, the Red and Black students mainly won, forcing the board to back down on many issues.)

— Content control reverted back to the students.  The position of editorial director was renamed editorial adviser.

— The board of directors apologized to the students and to the community.

— The board member who wrote a particularly odious memo, Ed Stamper, resigned from the board.  His resignation letter — which, sadly, included far too many “it’s/its” mistakes — claimed that the memo was an internal draft, but still was poorly written and conceived.

— The student editors were invited to reapply for their positions.  Ex-editor Polina Marinova (an alum of Auburn’s summer journalism workshop) indicated that she would.

— A confrontation between Red and Black Publisher Harry Montevideo and Grady NewsSource reporter Joshua Buce resulted in both on the floor.  Montevideo said it was because they tripped; Buce claimed Montevideo tackled him.  This is one part of the story that is unresolved.  It might result in criminal charges filed against Montevideo.

— A look at the Red and Black’s 2011 IRS Form 990 showed that Montevideo earned $189,545, almost 20% of the newspaper’s budget.  It also represented a raise of more than $70,000 from the previous year.  That is serious money.

— A look at the Red and Black bylaws showed that the board of directors was supposed to have two student members — something that has not happened for several years.  Meanwhile, at least two board members, including the chairman and the aforementioned Stamper, had been on the board for more than 30 years, despite the term limits mentioned in the bylaws.  That is serious embarrassment.

If the Red and Black folks were sincere in their apologies, Marinova and her managing editor, Julia Carpenter, will be rehired to their jobs.  Morales has announced no timetable for when the hires will be announced.

Everyone agrees that it has been a surreal 48 hours in Athens.  Well worth the popcorn.  As UGA professor Barry Hollander told them on his blog, “Have a beer, have several, finally get some sleep, and then get back to doing good journalism.”

Congratulations, Red and Black folks.  You did yourselves, your school and your profession proud.  (And please, someone look at these mismanagement issues on the Red and Black board.)

For more information, start with redanddead.com.

Photo via PolinaMarinova.com.

John Carvalho, associate professor of journalism at Auburn, blogs about the sports media at johncarvalhoau.tumblr.com. Find him on Twitter at @johncarvalhoau. Read his previous columns here.

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