FAMU’s new editor speaks, adviser doesn’t

FAMU’s student newspaper, the Famuan, has a new editor.

Her name is Angie Meus. She replaces Karl Etters, the editor who had recently won the job but was forced to reapply for it because of a libel charge against the paper from 2011. Back then, Etters was a reporter but not an editor.

He and other observers have wondered if FAMU’s apply-for-your-own-job scheme, plus the weirdness he’s faced this month (see previous posts), was simply because he worked at the paper back then.

Perhaps administrators sought a clean sweep – a new editor for a new era.

But apparently, that’s not the case. Meus, now a senior, was actually in management at the time: She was the opinions editor.

“I have been writing for The Famuan since my freshman year,” she emailed me last night. “I was the opinions editor my junior year.”

I wanted to pose the same question to the Famuan’s new adviser, Kanya Stewart. Her predecessor was fired without comment, and she was hired without FAMU posting the job or consulting students (as the j-school dean had previously promised).

And since there’s still been no official announcement, no one besides Stewart and her boss – and we don’t actually know who she reports to – has seen her job description, her salary, or even her schedule.

It appears Stewart is working at FAMU part-time. She still lists “Co-Owner/ Publicist” at Proclaim Creative & Marketing Group on her Linkedin page.

Since Etters says Stewart told him he was being replaced for writing “negative” stories, I wanted to ask Stewart about that, too. Stewart hasn’t return two phone calls, but she did email me Wednesday night…

Thank you for your interest in the FAMUan. I just received your voice message. I would be happy to respond to your questions via email.

So I emailed her back: What did you mean when you said Karl focused too much on “negative” coverage? Who hired you as adviser? When was your job interview? With whom?

Yesterday, I received this response…

I appreciate your interest in the FAMUan. At this time it is best that you direct any questions you may have regarding this matter to FAMU’s Office of Communication.

Meus was more forthcoming.

“I don’t really know the whole story behind that situation,” she emailed me. “I think it is very unfortunate, but I’m looking forward to working with our new adviser.”

I asked Etters about Meus. He said defiantly, “She’s a friend, this isn’t about her.” And he’s right.

This is about FAMU’s administrators, who I believe are manipulating students for their own greedy purposes. Meus is as much a victim as Etters, because she’s being taught lessons she thinks are helping her career – when actually, they’re hurting her.

Etters was replaced because he says Stewart told him he “didn’t fit into the vision of The Famuan” – which involved too many “negative” stories. And indeed, Etters’ byline is over many of the toughest articles printed last year. He also wrote a few opinion pieces of his own. One was called We are Journalists, Not Publicists.

So Etters has been replaced by Meus, a woman with no listed Famuan news experience. According to her resume, she was a reporter for the campus TV station, whose archives reveal none of the hard-hitting reporting Etters did.

That’s no slam on Meus. She might not want to pursue hard news. Again, this is about administrators putting a hard-working student – which Etters says she is – in a bad spot.

When I asked Meus about her “vision” for the Famuan – and how that differs from Etters – she told me…

Karl and I have never had that discussion. I can only tell you what my vision is and that is to mend the disconnect between the newspaper and the student body. We are “the student voice of FAMU” and I take that very seriously.

Sadly, that doesn’t sound particularly journalistic to me.

I fear Meus is being misled by a secretly hired adviser who continues to run her own PR firm – and who has written glowingly about the j-school dean, who was probably the woman who hired her.

The first issue of the new-vision Famuan debuts Wednesday.

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ