I am reprinting the open letter here.
For the record, while I wouldn’t mind continuing to write for the Spec, there is a whole other story going on that must get out, and that I will continue to pursue regardless.
***please forward widely***
THIS JUST IN: SPECTATOR FIRES POLITICAL COLUMNISTS
Open Letter to the Columbia Daily Spectator and the Columbia Community
On January 19, just one day before the start of the spring 2004 semester, the staff of the Columbia Daily Spectator summarily fired nine of the paper’s thirteen acting opinion columnists: Paul Reyfman, Jennifer Thorpe, Joe Valenti, Alex Rolfe, Laura Durkay, Ariel Beery, Daniel Dorsch, Seth Anziska, and Jeffrey Stedman.
Among the “Spectator Nine” are columnists who have written for the paper for several years and others who were just beginning. One thing unites them–all were bold writers who never shied away from any controversy, campus or political, and now the Spectator staff is attempting to silence student voices and steer away from the debate that makes the op-ed page a crucial outlet of student opinion for the Columbia community.
The columnists were informed by e-mail from Editorial Page Editor Rachael King that “the Opinion page needs a major overhaul in order to make it more interesting and enjoyable.” But in reality, this was a conscious campaign to eliminate the Spectator’s most outspoken and controversial political columnists. After protests from several columnists, Rachael admitted the truth. “As for
getting rid of the political writers, you’re right, we are trying to do so,” Rachael wrote. “The major complaint about Opinion is that it is too much politics.” From whom this complaint came was unclear.
The fired columnists were given no warning that their positions were in jeopardy and the selection process was completely non-transparent. While the editor and associate editor fired many talented and experienced writers, they left space for their own personal opinion columns and are now hiring new writers.
We, the undersigned, consider these actions a reprehensible attempt to silence debate of important political issues in the pages of the Spectator. We urge all who are outraged by these actions to send letters of protest to the Columbia Daily Spectator, at email@example.com. In addition, we implore all writers to withhold opinion submissions from the Spectator until the fired columnists are reinstated in a just and open manner.
Laura Durkay, fired columnist
Jennifer Thorpe, fired columnist
Ariel Beery, fired columnist
Jeffrey Stedman, fired columnist
Seth Anziska, fired columnist
Daniel Dorsch, fired columnist
Signature list in formation. To add your signature, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, Columbia affiliation (if any) and Columbia Daily Spectator affiliation (if any.)