Difference of opinion not grounds for dismissal

Viewers of a commentary show don’t tune in to hear canned statements contrived to please certain parties. All value of the show would be lost if the said commentator acted and talked like a puppet and didn’t honestly delve into his or her unique opinions.

Apparently, Mark Cohen, director of athletic media relations, disagrees.

Senior broadcast journalism major Brian Smith was asked to go on a talking-heads style show on the MountainWest Sports Network to share his thoughts on the football team. The only mistake Smith made was offering them.

Smith was told this week that he is no longer allowed to use camera equipment owned by the network to appear on the show after he made comments that the media relations department deemed “critical.”

Smith, like all other student journalists at the Schieffer School of Journalism, is taught to value his freedom of speech and to stand firm in this right. The fact that he was pulled from the show because he chose to be honest without self-censorship is embarrassing.

Nothing Smith said during the spot was blatantly offensive or inappropriate. Agree or not with his opinion that an incoming quarterback could possibly be better than an existing one, it was hardly out of line.

Student journalists are arguably more well-versed on their teams’ dynamics than professional journalists. Not only do they go to school and possibly classes with these players, but they are also on the sidelines during the games and off-season practices. Their attention is more concentrated on their school’s teams.

The Mtn. offered a valuable opportunity for college sports fans to hear from student journalists and benefit from their unique expertise and point of view. Frogs’ fans no longer have that same opportunity.

The university should evaluate whether this decision is in line with its mission statement and whether the message this sends to its students is the one it intended to convey.

Managing editor Saerom Yoo for the editorial board.