Steve Smith, Thank You

It is time for all who are concerned about the Oregon Daily Emerald to turn our attention to the future, but before we move on there is one piece of unfinished business.

We need to thank Steve Smith. The harsh and uninformed criticism he has received is undeserved. I deeply regret if Steve’s good name has been damaged in his efforts to give back to the ODE.

Steve is an ODE alumnus who has been involved at the ODE for many years as an informal adviser and mentor.  In both Salem and Spokane he created internship pipelines to the UO and placed more ODE staffers in internships than I can count. In many instances he recruited ODE alumni into his newsrooms. He never visited campus without finding time to meet with ODE journalists.

When Steve realized that the ODE was in a serious financial trouble, he volunteered to help find a solution.  Steve has detailed his involvement on his blog and there is no need for me to go into the detail here. The bottom line is that he provided invaluable service to the ODE for one reason and one reason only: He is committed to the UO, the ODE, students, and journalism.

Much has been made about the fact that Steve included the possibility of teaching at the SOJC in his discussions with the ODE board. It is unfortunate that his effort to be transparent has been so misconstrued. As he detailed on his blog, we had a preliminary conversation about the possibility of  Steve teaching as an adjunct faculty member on a course-by-course basis.

The teaching agreement would have been no different that the relationship the SOJC has with news staff from the Register-Guard, the Oregonian, and other news organizations that also cover the UO on a regular basis. Had either of us been made aware of the students’ perception of a conflict of interest in such an arrangement, we would have worked with them to find a way to address the concerns or abandoned the idea.

He has also been charged with crafting a proposal that threatens the editorial control of the student staff. We can discuss the merits of the proposal – I happen to think it is a good one – but there is no stronger advocate than Steve Smith for press freedom and the editorial independence of the ODE. If a case can be made that the proposed structure is a threat, Steve would be the first person to take it off the table.

So, I want to thank Steve Smith for caring about the ODE and making a good faith effort to make a positive difference. The paper has a bright future if we all care about it as much as he does and if we work as hard as he has to support it.


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2 Responses to “Steve Smith, Thank You”

  1. Still A Newspaperman » Blog Archive » Musings and apologies for a Saturday morning Says:

    […] But I also am grateful for extraordinarily gracious post on his own blog last night (link here). Thank […]

  2. Michele Ross Says:

    I am the ODE Interim GM and ODE Technology and Creative Services Director. My opinions are my own and are in no way meant to represent those of the Oregon Daily Emerald Publishing Company, Inc. or any one employed there. I have worked at the ODE for 27 years.

    I would like to thank Steve Smith for all the work he did for us. Steve is one of the strongest defenders of the student voice that I have ever met. He as been a long-time, consistent friend of the Emerald and student staff.

    I began soliciting Emerald alumni to help us revitalize our organization last October. The conversation began because we need to operate in the black and become a timely, relevant multi-platform news organization. Of the many people contacted, Steve was one of the few people who had the time, energy and interest to try to help us.

    Steve volunteered his time with our organization at my and the board’s request to help turn our organization around. He, later, became a paid consultant at my request.

    I offer my support of Steve’s values and intentions. He was asked to help and help he did. We are in a much better position today, than we were last fall.

    I do not believe that editorial freedom is in jeopardy. I respect and support the student right to freely publish. I have never known the UO administration to try interfere with the student voice. I have never known the SOJC try to impose any control over the student voice. I do not believe the board of directors have made any decisions that would take editorial control from the students.

    – Michele Ross

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