Newsroom or Classroom?

Old newspaper pros quit the FIU journalism school as academicians run the show

Hall also says students in the broadcast journalism program were censored when a segment they had prepared for football coach Don Strock's television program on WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) was declared by the school's athletic department to be unacceptable because of its tone. Neither Strock nor Teresa Ponte, the faculty advisor to the broadcast journalism students, could be reached.

"I don't know what they were doing, accepting censorship by the athletic department," Hall says. "They're teaching that journalism is really public relations."

School officials say Hall, despite an admirable career at FIU, is a "disgruntled employee" with an ax to grind. "I don't understand why Kevin Hall feels the need to throw mud at a program he helped build to a level of prominence and is now only going to get better," Riordan says.

Kevin Hall: "I cannot continue to teach in this environment, which has so 
little respect for the needs of journalism students"
Colby Katz
Kevin Hall: "I cannot continue to teach in this environment, which has so little respect for the needs of journalism students"

McQueen, the former journalism department chairman who is now managing editor of the Macon Telegraph in Macon, Georgia, says the FIU imbroglio mirrors the tensions in other journalism programs around the nation, with grizzled former reporters contending for supremacy with degree-minded journalism academicians. "Should people who want to be journalists be taught by masters of the craft, despite their lack of academic credentials, or by people with no real solid, long-term experience?" McQueen asks.

Neither Hall nor Green have graduate degrees, only decades of journalism experience; two new FIU journalism faculty hires don't have extensive daily newspaper experience. One is Lyn Millner, who will become a visiting professor next fall. She is a regular contributor to USA Today, mostly as a book reviewer, and to National Public Radio, Riordan says. The other new hire, whose name was withheld, has worked for South Florida publications but never achieved the prominence of Green, McQueen, or Hall.

Indeed McQueen has a master's degree in mass communication from Florida Atlantic University, and he has written regularly for trade publications like the American Journalism Review and Quill. "Yet I was told by a committee of my peers, after three years as the department chairman, that I would never stand for a tenure promotion," McQueen says. "I didn't fit the model of someone who would be granted tenure."

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I am a graduate of FIU's School of Journalism. Kevin Hall was the best professor I ever had. I am sorry to learn he is no longer teaching there; however, I am not surprised he took a stand based on values, ethics and always thinking on what is good for the students... Wherever you are Mr. Hall: Thank you! I was lucky enough to have you as a teacher.

Miguel Alvaro Sarmiento 

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