To the undersigned members of UCLA student media,
Thank you for the open letter we received regarding your concern over the appointment of the editor in chief for the Daily Bruin for the 2019-2020 academic year. We appreciate your continued commitment to student media and recognize the tremendous positive impact of all our writers and editors. As such, we are cognizant of your concerns and are absolutely committed to maintaining open communication between the board and all its publications.
This year’s editor in chief selection process yielded three well-qualified candidates who all possessed their own individual and varied strengths. During the interview process, we were impressed with the knowledge, prudence and candor displayed by all three applicants. As a result, we were confident that, regardless of who was selected, their appointment would contribute to the continued success of the Daily Bruin. Regardless, this was not an easy decision for us. We deliberated for several hours and carefully weighed all of the information with which we were provided. The vote was also – unusually – not unanimous, as only a 2/3 majority was achieved, even after considerable deliberation.
Our ultimate selection for the position stood out for a few specific reasons. During her nine quarters of employment at the Daily Bruin, she displayed outstanding writing ability, a first-rate understanding of the role of the editor in chief and a superlative management track record. In addition, her experience working with a professional publication suggested her ability to successfully transfer lessons learned to the oversight of the Bruin.
As a board, we are aware that there has been an informal trend of generally confirming the candidate recommended by the staff. This practice was instituted in part because the staff endorsement has generally been overwhelmingly favorable for one candidate, but this year that was not the case. As a result, we felt it was our responsibility to listen to all students, the 39% as well as the 58%. However, as per the Communications Board Constitution, Article IV.B.1, “The Board shall appoint a student editor or general manager for each Communications Board medium.” This provision gives the board independent authority over the appointment of the Daily Bruin editor in chief. There is no provision that binds the board to accede to the staff vote, although the board does always take said vote into strong consideration, as was done this year. To clarify, this year’s vote was not unique, as it is not the first time the Communications Board has appointed an editor in chief that was not endorsed by the staff. In the past, we have also rejected candidates that ran unopposed if we did not feel confident in appointing them. As the independent publisher, manager and operator of student communications media, the board’s interest, much like that of the staff’s, is to facilitate both the short- and long-term success of The Bruin, and all our decisions are made with this commitment in mind.
The letter we received also alleges that this decision would undermine the independence of the Daily Bruin’s student journalists. We strongly disagree with this assertion. The candidate selected was self-nominated and does not have any conflicts of interest known to the board that would prevent her from adequately carrying out her duties. In your letter, the expression of faith in the chosen candidate’s ability to lead the paper is dissonant from the improper accusation of undue influence on behalf of the Communications Board or the Undergraduate Students Association Council, whether directly or indirectly. If the board was in fact acting against the interests of the publication, then it would stand to reason that our selected candidate would not have the faith of the staff, but this is not the case, as the letter indicates. In fact, the board has actively and consistently supported student media in previous disputes with student government, as we are committed to defending the integrity of our publications.
We hope that this response sufficiently addresses your concerns. Please keep in mind that, as board members, we are honor-bound by our constitution to not share information discussed specifically in our executive session. However, in the interest of openness, this letter is intended to express our rationale as far as we are constitutionally permitted.
In the meantime, we would like to continue to express our support of the current appointed candidate and her tremendous qualifications. We hope all three applicants will work together in the coming year for the benefit of the Daily Bruin. We are also receptive to opening up a forum for the discussion of any ongoing grievances, as well as proposals for tangible solutions, as is encouraged in our constitution, Article IV.D. All who are interested are encouraged to attend the Communication Board’s Operations Committee meeting in April, which is open to the public. We want to reiterate our commitment to working closely together with all our publications as we move forward.
The ASUCLA Communications Board