Controversial Tribune History

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There have been clashes between the Tribune and the university administration in the past. Here are two prominent examples:

Pro-abortion rights ad leads to firing, apology

On Nov. 10, 1989, the Tribune ran an advertisement supporting a pro-abortion rights rally at the state Capitol. The advertisement was criticized by the administration, who considered the advertisement immoral.

By Nov. 14, the editors who had approved the advertisement issued an apology. In the apology, they noted that "publication of the advertisement was contrary to the university's policy and … was offensive to many Tribune readers."

Judy Riedl, the business manager at the time, was fired and furious over her dismissal.

"Marquette is just hell-bent on having control, and I don't know why," Riedl, now general manager for the Oregon Daily Emerald, said.

But Francis Lazarus, then vice president for academic affairs, told the Tribune in its Nov. 14, 1989 issue, "I think the running of the ad has certainly hurt the image of the university. Are we or are we not a Catholic institution committed to Catholic principles? It's a principled stand. When one of those principles have been violated we've taken appropriate action to overcome that violation."

Lazarus, now president of the University of Dallas, was on retreat and unable to offer new comments for this article.

While she believed the students did nothing wrong, Sharon Murphy, then dean of the College of Communication, Journalism and Performing Arts, said the controversy could have been avoided.

"Good sense would dictate that some advertising needs careful scrutiny." Murphy said. Instead of running the ad, the newspaper could have run a news article on the abortion rights rally. Doing so, Murphy said. would not have violated the Board of Student Publications policy, which said advertisments and editorials cannot contradict Marquette's official positions or catholic moral teachings.

Editorial leads to controversy, editors' resignations

In late March 1993, the editorial board at the time wished to publish an editorial regarding RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill." According to the March 26, 1993 Tribune, the newspaper's adviser at the time, Bill Blanton, informed the board that the editorial, which supported a scientific, non-political investigation of RU-486, violated the Board of Student Publications policy.

"People think (an editorial is) the university's point of view," said Jim Scotton, current chair of the journalism department and chairman of the Board of Student Publications at the time. To avoid that perception, the board changed the editorial to an opinion piece, signed by six board members.

But the university still was not satisfied.

"The university said we could run it if we ran an opposing piece in the same issue," said Eric Schnabel, the managing editor of the Tribune at the time, in an e-mail. "We said we'd run an opposing piece in a subsequent issue as our charter demands."

The charter, Schnabel said, required balance over several issues, as opposed to in every issue.

Schnabel and most of the editorial board resigned. Another editor handled the last month of publication for the school year. The editorial was published as an opinion piece and was debated in several subsequent issues.

Editorials were dropped from the Tribune in October 1993, and were not reinstated until January 2005. According to Bill Elliott, dean of the College of Communication, there is no official policy now as to news and editorial content of the Tribune, but there is an advertising policy.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 8 2005.

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