Carillon staff would like to express our solidarity and support for the staff at the Sheaf following the recent publication of a letter from their Board of Directors, renouncing an article on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
It sets a dangerous precedent for journalistic independence at the Sheaf for the Board of Directors to interfere with editorial decision making, especially considering the lack of transparency displayed thus far. It is particularly concerning that the Board seems to have made this decision after pressure from HonestReporting Canada, a pro-Israel lobby group whose primary purpose is to ensure that Israel is favourably portrayed in media coverage. Not only did the board bow to outside pressure from a lobby group, they undermined the hard work and effort of the reporter who wrote the story and damaged her credibility without reason or justification.
In the letter, Sheaf board members wrote that the story “The Reality of Palestine,” which included photographs, factual, historical context, an interview with a Palestinian family living in Saskatoon, and the explicit statement that anti-Zionism is not the same as antisemitism, “did not meet the journalistic standards set out in the Sheaf’s mandate.” However, they did not say how the story failed to meet those standards, nor did they provide any evidence that the story, which was written by a student and featured an interview with a Saskatoon resident, failed to “inform and entertain students by addressing those issues that are relevant to life on campus, in the city, or in the province.”
This decision by some members of the Sheaf’s board caused conflict within the board itself, with two members resigning following the vote, and the remaining three resigning following this Open letter to the Sheaf Board of Directors written by former editorial staff and contributors of the Sheaf. In the letter they include an archived form of the article in question, along with three demands:
-that the remaining members of the board resign (completed)
-that the minutes of the board meeting where the decision was reached be released to the public
-that the article be replaced on the Sheaf’s website
The incoming editor-in-chief, Ana Cristina Camacho, also resigned, saying in a prepared statement for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that “I was looking forward to leading the paper this year and I will miss a lot about being a staff member, but I am concerned with the attitudes of the people who have control of the Sheaf at the moment.”
We stand in support of the Sheaf’s staff, and the students of the University of Saskatchewan, who have a right to timely, factual, and independent reporting on the issues that matter. We are deeply disturbed by the board’s decision, and concerned for the precedent this sets for the future of independent student journalism.
S. K. Birrell, News Editor
Holly Funk, Editor-in-Chief
Shae Sackman, Technical Editor
Gillian Massie, Staff Writer
Matt Thomson, Arts & Culture Writer
Hammad Ali, Staff Writer
Morgan Ortman, Production Manager