Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's risky, but we can't hold out much longer. We have no choice.

I bookmarked an interesting story a couple months ago when I first thought about starting a blog.

The Associated Press wrote a piece on March 18 about three student newspapers refusing to publish an advertisement from a pro-life group.

Read "Three College Papers Say No to Anti-Abortion Group's Ad" for more information.

You can see the ad below:

Ten university student newspapers accepted the advertisement. Student newspapers at UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout and Marquette University in Milwaukee did not.

I respect the decision by the three newspaper editors to deny publication of the ad. It contains false information. The morning after pill does not cause "chemical abortion." Plan B and RU-486 (the abortion pill) are not the same. Plan B, which must be used within 72 hours after intercourse, stops the release of the egg. The abortion pill, which can be used later in a pregnancy, causes the uterus to empty. Two pills for two separate scenarios leading to two outcomes.

Student editors are responsible for all content that makes its way to print, either in stories or in advertisements. Advertisements may be rejected, as long as students make the decision to do so. The 1997 federal appeals case, Yeo v. Town of Lexington, upheld this right and ruled against a man who sued a school district after student editors at a high school newspaper and yearbook rejected an advertisement promoting abstinence.

Advertisements are often the last thing student editors want to deal with. As an editor, you'll likely be confronted with ad problems. Administrators will be unhappy with ads from bars. Pro-life and pro-choice groups will be unhappy if their ads appear next to each other. Women's groups won't like ads with women in bikinis. Don't get me started on sex toy ads. It's probably best not to run them in the orientation issue.

Student editors: take a little time to see what ads are coming in. Ask questions. Learn about what ads are on the horizon. Don't let yourself be surprised. Allow time to prepare a defense for anything that might generation criticism. It's better than being caught with your pants down... especially on spring break.

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