Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The staff of Lindenwood University’s print magazine, the Legacy, put out their fifth issue in April, not knowing that it would be the magazine’s final issue.
On June 29, Dr. Joseph Alsobrook, dean of the School of Arts, Media and Communications at Lindenwood, told the staff they were no longer going to print the magazine. Alsobrook’s reasoning for the discontinuation of the magazine was due to budget cuts and better educational opportunities, but the staff of the Legacy have reason to believe this is the administration trying to censor their work.
The Legacy magazine was formerly a newspaper before switching from a weekly publication to monthly in October 2017. After the change in publication schedule, the format and content shifted to magazine style.
“When we switched to the magazine format, it allowed us to take the time to work on pieces, do really investigative reporting, go in-depth, and it was not so time sensitive,” Madeline Raineri, news editor and community relations director for the Legacy, said.
The staff of the Legacy magazine used the change in format to publish long-form stories tackling topics such as sexual abuse and mental health on campus. The staff earned 16 awards at the Missouri College Media Association conference, with stories covering these controversial topics earning recognition. The Legacy’s campus readers seemed to enjoy the magazine’s content as well.
“We never received any complaints from administration, and I would say we only received extremely positive feedback from our audience, students and faculty alike,” Raineri said.
Given the magazine’s generally positive reception, the staff was shocked to find out that it would no longer be printed.
“This is something we have put our entire lives into. We have spent weekends on end making sure everything is laid out. The whole experience you get from print was basically ripped out from underneath us with no context or warning. It was a total shock to the majority of the staff,” Raineri said.
Alsobrook cited a report from Jill Van Wyke, Drake University associate professor who came to Lindenwood in 2016. She performed an outside audit for the journalism department as a reason for the Legacy’s cancellation. In her report, Van Wyke wrote campus media should move toward a “multi-platform converged publication.” However, the Legacy staff questions the validity of using this report to justify stopping the printing of the Legacy.
“They never consulted [Jill Van Wyke] before using the report, it was from 2016 which was prior to the Legacy, and they took only a half of a page from her report which was 26 pages long,” Raineri said.
Alsobrook also used budget cuts as another reason to cease printing. However, the Legacy staff does not believe the costs of printing their monthly magazine was too high for the college.
“It costs roughly $2,000 to print 2,000 issues, which is doable for the university,” Raineri said. “We just got brand new turf on our football field, they installed a spirit rock, they are completely renovating a dorm, renovating our previous facilities, putting us in a new facility, and renovating the second floor of our brand new library which is only a year old. I don’t buy the budget cuts.”
Despite the administration’s reasons for ceasing to print the Legacy, Raineri and the other Legacy staff members believe the magazine was cancelled due to significant pushback from the administration about the content it was publishing.
“They said [the Legacy] was not good for the university’s image, but they would let us print a public relations magazine if we wanted to. However, that is not real journalism,” Raineri said.
In response to the decision to stop printing the Legacy, the staff has dedicated multiple stories on Lindenlink to covering the situation. They have also garnered support from Lindenwood alumni and reached out to local media in order to spread the word.
“I am pretty confident that if we can continue with the pushback, there might be some compromise at least,” Raineri said. “We are trying to keep up the pressure and let people know that this is what we think happened and that we are not going to stand for it.”
On July 9, the Legacy requested an investigation with the College Media Association into whether or not censorship occurred.