Even as the paper’s content, audience and staff have evolved over time, The Temple News has continually carried out its slogan of being “a watchdog for the Temple University community since 1921.”
The reporting of national, local and university events, like the Vietnam War, an increase in student marijuana usage, the approval of the 2018-19 operating budget and the local community dissent about the planned on-campus stadium, reflects how The Temple News has held the university and public officials accountable.
The Temple News reached out to former reporters and editors and gathered information about how the stories they produced during their time on staff held the university accountable on behalf of students, employees and the local community.
Arlene Notoro Morgan, assistant dean for external affairs at Klein College of Media and Communication and editor-in-chief for the Temple News in the 1965-66 academic year, kept the university community informed about the increase in students’ marijuana use through stories she wrote in 1965 as a reporter for The Temple News.
The university thought marijuana and drug use were not acceptable topics to write about, Morgan said. Carl Grip, the dean of students from 1956 to 1968, had a meeting with Morgan in which he said he did not want stories about drugs on campus to be published, however, they continued to write about this topic.
The Temple News also reported on how university administration and students responded to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1967, The Temple News reported on protests from students about the Vietnam War. Posters with the slogan “CONFRONT THE WARMAKERS” were posted on bulletin boards, windows of buildings and on the sidewalks to show resistance to the war in Vietnam.
Students protested to hold the federal government accountable for this “meaningless war”, wrote Howie Shapiro, an adjunct journalism professor, Broadway critic for the Classical Network of National Public Radio affiliates and the 1968 copy editor for The Temple News, in a 1967 article for the paper.
Clubs, like DuBois Club, Young Socialist Forum, Student Mobilization Committee, Americans for a Democratic Society and Students for a Democratic Society, served as an outlet for students to express their political views, Shapiro wrote. Each club opposed the country’s policies and war effort in Vietnam.
Resist, a national group, which included university professors, planned to march in Washington D.C. on Oct. 20, 1967, and to confront Attorney General Ramsey Clark. They wanted to publicly announce their resistance to the war in Vietnam and their intentions of helping others avoid the draft, Shapiro wrote.
Professors like English professor Robert Edenbaum, thought the Vietnam War was immoral, illegal and corrupt. English professor Maxwell S. Luria said that there are several moral issues concerning the war like killing, maiming and forcing the United States of America’s idea of freedom onto another country, Shapiro wrote.
“It was an interesting time to be a training journalist because let’s face it, how many times would you be in college when the President of the United States was assassinated, and the country was turned to turmoil, you know, and the Vietnam War was going on and Civil Rights Movement was going on,” Morgan said.
Despite university backlash, the paper maintained its goal of informing the student body and showing how university policies like cutting collegiate sports directly affect student-athletes and coaches.
The Board of Trustees unanimously approved Athletic Director Kevin Clark’s recommendation to cut seven intercollegiate sports including baseball, softball, men’s track and field, men’s gymnastics, women’s rowing and men’s crew in December 2014, according to a Temple News article written by Avery Maehrer, the 2013-14 Sports editor and 2014-15 editor-in-chief for The Temple News.
“It was heartbreaking because these student-athletes and these coaches, their lives are really affected by this, and, you know, as student journalists, it was an opportunity for us to really give a voice to what they were going through,” Maehrer said.
The paper documented how the administration’s decision created job losses and impacted student-athletes and coaches as their futures were uncertain, Maehrer said.
The administration has a duty to preserve the rich history of these programs and should have been transparent when announcing the sports cuts, as opposed to not giving the sports teams prior notice of the changes, Maehrer said.
“All those things, I think, were part of how we as student journalists, you know, attempted to be watchdogs with this story,” Maehrer said.
Keeping a check on administration’s decisions has also kept the surrounding community informed on topics, like the proposed football stadium.
Temple’s 2014 master plan called for a new football stadium in North Philadelphia. North Central residents, students and faculty addressed the negative impacts of the stadium, and community members formed an activist group, The Stadium Stompers, advocating against the on-campus stadium, The Temple News reported.
The Stadium Stompers marched from Temple’s Main Campus to City Hall in protest of the proposed on-campus stadium in May 2018, The Temple News reported. The group recommends that the stadium be built in Ambler, Pennsylvania, rather than in North Philadelphia.
The Stadium Stompers emphasized the need for reallocation of the $130 million budgeted for the stadium to public education and affordable housing for veterans and senior citizens, The Temple News reported.
As a result of the community dissent, the stadium project is no longer under consideration, according to the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s report on the university.
By reporting on behalf of the community’s perspective that the money should go to education and housing rather than a football stadium, the paper made certain that local resident voices were heard.
Ensuring that the university is held responsible for its decisions has manifested in real physical changes like the row and crewing team being reinstated and the termination of the football stadium project due to community dissent.
“[The Temple News] always held the watchdog role and it’s pretty much lived up to that challenge,” Morgan said. “I don’t think it’s ever been afraid to go after a story.”