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Media:If They'd Wanted an Opinion Columnist ...

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An opinion columnist for Penn State University's student newspaper has been fired by the editor in chief for complaining in print that editors have too much control over his opinion pieces.

 

The piece that got him fired was edited and approved by a mid-level editor before publication.

 

Now the offending piece has been pulled from the paper's Web site and the paper's top editor has written her own opinion piece: 750 words to say why she doesn't need to explain herself.

 

Bryan Peach, the fired columnist, mostly just wants his two-month-old job back -- and an explanation. 

"I deserve a reason why I was fired," says Peach, the former Daily Collegian columnist, who is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Previous column topics that did not get him fired include depression among students and the annoyance of being stranded in broken dorm elevators.

 

In his Oct. 7 column, headlined "News Writing Process Yields Many Tough Obstacles," Peach criticized the way in which a journalist's ideas are diluted during the editing process, both generally and specifically at The Daily Collegian. As soon as an editor's fingerprints appear, Peach wrote, "the [opinion] column begins to reflect the Collegian's agenda rather than the columnist's."

 

Which apparently wasn't true in the column that got Peach fired.

Peach says he had not had any problems working with his immediate editor, Jen Winberry, adding that he felt his work was sometimes "over-edited" and that "the university's interests filtered through the editorial staff."

Since his dismissal on Oct. 17, Peach says he's attempted to get a written explanation of his termination from Daily Collegian editor-in-chief Jennette Hannah or faculty advisor John Harvey without success.

"Reinstatement would be ideal, but it's probably not going to happen," Peach says.

Winberry and Harvey did not respond to numerous requests for comment, but in a statement sent to other media the paper said its representatives were unable to speak on personnel matters. Hannah says she is unable to comment. In her published non-explanation of Oct. 24, she writes that her own choice to run the column was "a lapse in judgment" for which she "take[s] full responsibility."

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