Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 33, Number 13. 1970
The Editor Resigns
The Editor Resigns
"One of the most stimulating influences experienced by a policeman is that he is constantly under a microscope."—Commonwealth Police Commissioner J. M. Davis, speaking at a summer school for journalists in Australia in February.
I think I would have to agree that, as a rule, to resign is the easy way out. But I know that it wasn't easy for me or the other members of staff to decide to resign. It would be fair to ask "What does resignation prove?—What good can it do?" Sadly, the answer would have to be that resignation proved nothing and that no good will come of it. But then we weren't trying to achieve anything.
I resigned because the Executive's decision to apologise seemed to me to involve a complete contradiction of Salient's basic function. In every issue of the newspaper there are several hundred statements which purport to be true. Most of them are fairly trivial, but some statements are significant. If I am asked to publish a statement saying that something I have written in a signed editorial is completely untrue and without foundation, what credibility can the newspaper as a whole have?
The Executive's decision involved the rejection of a policy adopted in the SRC by 290 votes to 14.....
There is a point which I should have thought the Association should have been prepared to try to expose in a court of law: no one has at any time disputed that Shadbolt was struck by a plainclothes policeman. There are several witnesses to this incident. The only dispute has been over who that policeman was.
And what about the constitutional questions raised? The Executive's action would appear to raise the question of whether the SRC has any power at all. The Executive initially made a unanimous recommendation to the SRC against an [unclear: pology], and would thus seem to have acknowledged that tho SRC had the final lower of decision.
This dispute raises a number of questions that would not normally have come to light.....But examining these issues (or deciding whether to examine them at all) is now a problem for the Association, to whom the newspaper belongs. And it's because Salient belongs to the Association that I had no choice but to publish an apology. If I had sent the newspaper to the printers without an apology in it the President would have been quite entitled to ask the printers if the apology was in the paper and, when told that it wasn't, ask the printers to insert an apology in place of any material in the paper.
This is as it should be. Salient doesn't belong to its Editor but to its publishers..... Of course, the issue was seasoned a little by personality conflicts. Denis Phelps remarked, several days before I resigned on 22 August, that he was willing to edit the newspaper and that "three senior members of the present Salient staff" were prepared to assist him.
The following members of the staff have resigned in protest at the Executive's decision in addition to myself: the Deputy Editor, Les Atkins; the Technical Editor, Graham Ingram; the Reviews Editor, Gil Peterson; photographers Alan Browne and John Eastcott; reporters Lindsay Wright, Cecily Pinker, Geoff Davies and Gavin McGuire; and John Falvey, The Advertising Manager. I have not spoken to one of the photographers and one of the reporters yet so I do not know what their attitude will be. The only other member of staff, Janet Oakley, was undecided about her attitude when I spoke to her.
I hope that whoever takes over Salient now—and any students who join its staff—will work for the principle that Salient must be free to publish the truth—about students, about policemen, about anyone. And I hope that if anyone tries to stop them from doing this they won't put up with interference. This is the first mass Salient resignation since the 1950's at least. It is a very bad precedent. I hope that all students who care about the independence of the student press will do their best to ensure that a similar situation will not recur.
The above views are probably representative of those of the rest of the Salient staff. I should like here to thank them very much indeed for the work they did for Salient. I should also like to thank Margaret Bryson, Graeme Collins, Graeme Nesbitt and the many other people who gave Salient their support this year.
It has been found necessary to abridge the above on legal advice