Online UpdateGlendale News-Press Letters to the Editor

Here is a collection of letters to the editor to the Glendale News-Press about El Vaquero’s nursing story and the stolen newspapers.

College Paper Not All About ‘Glad’ News

The thorough, balanced and sensitively written account of suicide in the June 9 Glendale Community College El Vaquero student newspaper deserves accolades, not criticism (“Vanishing newspapers stir trouble on campus,” June 21).

Writer Pauline Guinan did an outstanding job, gathering and presenting information from classmates, counselors and nursing faculty regarding the deaths of two nursing students during the recent academic year. Avoiding sensationalism, she carefully placed student suicide in the context of the disturbing and growing problem that it is.

There was a time when death by suicide was never mentioned in news accounts. The word “rape” was whispered, but never printed. Such problems have not disappeared, but today at least they are being identified and discussed. Depression, cancer and alcoholism are now acknowledged as illnesses requiring treatment, not shunning. Who among us is ignorant of the suffering caused by abuse, AIDS and addiction?

It was a tough but correct decision for President John Davitt to ensure that the papers remain in their news racks. To do otherwise would have been a distressing footnote to his lengthy and laudable career at the college.

Davitt was right: the college’s student newspaper is not independent. It is part of the college curriculum, and it should be. Journalism students, advised by a highly qualified and extremely conscientious professor, are getting real-life training covering the glad news — and sad news — of their community, just as the college’s nursing students learn first-hand in their hospital work that all medical outcomes are not necessarily positive.

But Davitt was wrong to suggest that the story verges on libel and maligns the nursing program. As I read it, the college’s nursing classes are rigorous and challenging. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The line illustration accompanying the story in the college paper is admittedly ambiguous, a seeming attempt to illustrate the truth that few want to discuss the issue. (The June 20 Glendale News-Press article refers to the illustration as a “cartoon,” incorrectly implying that it somehow makes a joke of, or satirizes, this tragedy.)

Most troubling to some, apparently, is El Vaquero’s identification of one of the suicide victims by name. But for those of us who didn’t know her, including an actual name reminds us this is an article about real people and not a subject to be wallpapered over with faceless statistics.

La Crescenta

EDITOR’S NOTE: O’Neil, a former Glendale College student (1966-67), is chairman of the Media Arts Department at Pierce College in Woodland Hills.

Papers Must Be Accessible to Readers

The papers should have been kept on the racks, no question (“Vanishing newspapers stir trouble on campus,” June 21).

Los Angeles

Thwarted Paper Blow to Free Speech

Personally I think Glendale College Supt. John Davitt should be rendered to a country that allows a total clamp-down on freedom of the press (“Vanishing newspapers stir trouble on campus,” June 21).

It would be a place where he could be more at home with censorship than here in California, where the State Assembly passed legislation in May 2006 to specifically guard college-student publications from censorship.

College newspapers are the fragile learning ground for our future journalists and their 1st Amendment rights should be fiercely guarded by educators and administrators alike. This is why I am shocked that Davitt would even suggest confiscating an entire press run because of an important, legitimate article, and that faculty advisor Michael Moreau would partially capitulate.

Journalism’s prime purpose is to fearlessly and fairly observe the workings of society and government and report those findings to the public. Theoretically, it’s how we, as a democratic nation, choose our leaders and enhance our lives through informed decisions. If we expect to survive as a healthy democracy, we must support the best in journalism at all levels and vilify any individual or institution that attempts to thwart that basic freedom.

Santa Monica

EDITOR’S NOTE: Burkhart is photojournalism adviser at Santa Monica College.