Phi Beta Cons

“Pompoms” P.R.

Campuses are increasingly worried that editorially independent alumni publications are at odds with their fund-raising strategy of touting an institution’s achievements and keeping the lid on its failures and scandals. Editors of alumni magazines, for example, from Columbia University and Williams College, say that campus officials are increasingly attempting to wrest control of the content communicated to graduates.
On the one hand, such magazines do have an obligation to uphold the mission of the campuses. On the other, the increasing drive by campus administrators to gain control over content and permit only, as The Wall Street Journal describes it, “loyal…cheerleading [or ‘pompoms’-preferring]” publications makes it difficult for alums and the public to get at what’s really happening in colleges and universities.

Such public-relations tactics only reinforce secrecy and lack of accountability on campuses, and they make rigorous investigative reporting on higher education all the more indispensable.

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