Editorial: State Press stands with Normal Noise following creative suppression

Barrett, the Honors College's censorship of the spring 2016 issue of Normal Noise is unwarranted.

The State Press prides itself on journalistic independence. Although our publication has a faculty adviser from the University and falls under the jurisdiction of campus media, we fight to produce content independent of the influences of ASU’s administration.

However, other student publications do not have that privilege. With this in mind, we feel the need to speak out when a fellow student media outlet feels stifled.

We find the suppression of the spring 2016 issue of “Normal Noise,” a culture magazine published by ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, to be reprehensible. 

Barrett funds “Normal Noise,” and in turn, demands prior review of the magazine before the distribution of each issue. Prior review is a journalistic process in which a non-editorial party demands to read an outlet’s content before it is published.

The censorship stemmed from a painting of a female nude commissioned for the issue.

Although Barrett acted within its right as a publisher to censor content, it refused to clearly express the policies to which it adheres when The State Press repeatedly requested an interview.

The State Press is not subject to this review in the interest of preserving journalistic integrity. Allowing an administrative official or even a source to read through our stories and edit our content would subject us to their agendas.

We do not represent the University’s interests. We represent its students.

The censorship of “Normal Noise’s” spring issue was unwarranted and contradictory to a precedent set by the University and Barrett in previous events and publications.

As part of First Friday — a monthly celebration of art and culture in downtown Phoenix — in the spring semester of the 2015-16 academic year, Barrett faculty hosted an art show featuring work by downtown Phoenix campus Barrett students. In this show, several pieces depicted the nude human form.

All incoming Barrett students are required to take two semesters of The Human Event, a class that emphasizes creative expression to promote student growth. Much of what is covered in The Human Event explores human sexuality and would likely be censored under the same standards that Barrett applied to “Normal Noise.”

While the policies are inconsistent, Barrett’s message is clear: Student artists of “Normal Noise” may have their creative freedom limited without explanation.

Censoring the voice of a student publication without giving any apparent justification goes against everything we believe this University stands for.

As an independent student-run publication, we use our freedom of speech to stand with “Normal Noise” and against actions of censorship without fear of retribution.


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