clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Oh, this is rich: an article about conservative student newspaper on college campuses being, er, "helped along" by conservative organizations.

Enjoy some choice tidbits.

In an eight-hour session that bore little resemblance to a traditional journalism class, the students were taught how to start their own conservative newspapers and opinion journals. And how to pick fights with lefty bogeymen on the faculty and in student government.

By the end of the day, the student journalists were fired up for battle -- determined not only to change the tenor of notoriously liberal campus dialogues, but also, in the long run, to alter the basic makeup of the nation's professional news outlets.

"What do you want professors to feel when you call them up?" asked Owen Rounds, a former speechwriter for Rudolph Giuliani.

"Threatened," replied Duncan Wilson, a tousle-haired 19-year-old from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

I'd go for "amused," myself. Most of my professors seemed fairly concerned with tolerating different viewpoints, so presumably they wouldn't feel "threatened" unless they felt you were going to misrepresent them in some way, yes? And is that how you really want to change the press? (And how would that be a change again?)

The Free Press, whose front page features the slogan "We Do Not Apologize," is among the newest members of the fraternity, having begun this year. But its bite-the-ankles approach is typical of the breed. The Free Press prints embarrassing e-mails from faculty members and taunts the administration with surveys showing that most professors are Democrats.

"A lot of my professors don't try to hide the fact they are outright Marxists," said Nicholas Romero, 20, the feisty editor of the Free Press.

Yes--funny, that. Some of my professors didn't try to hide the fact that they're outright pants-wearers, either.

Romero, whose father is a doctor, became a convert to the conservative cause when the school asked him if he wanted to live in one of the "minority-interest" floors that concentrate minority students in parts of some residence halls. He said he was appalled at what he viewed as an implication that, as a Latino, he didn't "have the social skills" to interact with other ethnic or racial groups.

Jeez, that sounds like the kind of thing a liberal would take offense at. Weird.

Computers and publishing software are so sophisticated that, in days, a lone student can become a subversive Citizen Kane, spreading a message to hundreds and, often, thousands of readers.

See below for what I think about being "subversive."

Another difference: The conservative political organizations that train the right-wing editors are better organized than ever. The Leadership Institute, which sponsored the North Carolina seminar, is one of three organizations that train and fund conservative journalists. Founded by Morton Blackwell, a former Reagan White House operative, the institute offers to pay the costs of printing first issues.

Help me out here--I assume the counter to the charge that maybe you're not so marginalized when a national group pays for your first issue (and trains you to bait liberals, which shouldn't take too long) would be that liberal "official" campus newspapers (the Oberlin campus newspaper being about as liberal as the New York Times--which is to say sort of, but not really) get all sorts of school money and so they're just evening out the scales. Of course, as far as I can tell, most colleges are happy to fund an organization that wants to put out its own publication, and most student newspapers are open to whoever wants to write there (you should see some of the shit I got away with in the Oberlin Review over the years) so it's unclear why they would feel marginalized. I guess the thing is that if you're on an official student publication or organization you can't be too offensive or your funding will be yanked. And, er, I assume there's a presumed political bias there, right? Riiight.

The organizations boast that their graduates have gone on to some of the most prestigious media outlets in the nation, including Esquire magazine, CNN, Time and Newsweek, as well as major metropolitan papers. Some see such "seeding" of the news media with conservatives as a welcome check on the liberalism of mainstream papers.

Yes--funny that, how conservatives have gone on to work for the mainstream media. I'm sure this is just a recent phenomenon.

"I think it's great if more young conservatives are going into journalism," said Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media critic. Noting that journalism has traditionally attracted liberal students "who want to change the world," he said, "we can definitely use people who have different political and cultural points of view."

Hahahahahahahaha. Oh man. Yeah, definitely don't want people who want to change the world in there. Those people suck. Wow.

David Brock, the onetime conservative author who has become a born-again Democrat, said campus conflicts are "phony wars instigated by conservatives. They introduce division and polarity where none exist."


Duncan Wilson, the UNC Charlotte student, complained that college Republicans got less than $500 in student fees this year. The campus gay club got $2,241, which was used partly to put on a show featuring drag queens, he said.

*cough* Well, that might have something to do with the fact that the gay organization wasn't formed for the specific purpose of pissing off other students, right?

Wilson, who started college at 16, was particularly incensed at his "Marxist" sociology professor. Would it be all right, he asked, to label the man "Public Enemy No. 1?"

That was probably going too far, seminar teachers warned.

Good call there, guys.

UPDATE: an astute poster on Atrios' blog points out the following:

"Today's publications share some characteristics with the conservative tracts that sprang up in the 1980s. The staffs remain all-volunteer and money is always short. The Free Press survives on private donations to pay the $1,400 it costs each month to print its run of 6,000 copies."

Translation: They can't survive in a free market. The irony is just too rich.