DEATH AND CENSORSHIP IN ALABAMA
Almost two weeks ago, a student turned up dead at the University of Alabama. The death was not reported in the Tuscaloosa News until ten days later, and then only because a concerned citizen called the editor. She (the editor) had not heard a thing. Wouldn't you think a newspaper that is the wholly owned subsidary of the New York Times would monitor local death reports? And wouldn't you think the newspaper would find it curious that the University does not issue a statement or press report on the death?
If you're like me, that's what you would think, but around here if the news is not good for business it simply doesn't get reported. And right now, of course, the university is in the midst of its recruitment season. That means doing everything possible to attract those warm, fee-paying bodies. An unexplained student death is deemed incovenient to achieving this purpose.
University administrations, like governments everywhere, can't be held accountable without vigorous investigative reporting. Having nearly eliminated freedom of speech within the university, however, administrators have now figured out a way to control the outside press. And in a one-newspaper town like Tuscaloosa, nobody's the wiser.
My advice is this: don't get bumped off in a college town, especially during recruitment season.
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