University of the Incarnate Word Dean [Mendell Morgan] and the NYTimes Cancellation

Incarnate Word cancels NY Times subscription over story

Comments from Inside Higher Education.

Incarnate Word and the 1st Amendment

Obviously, Incarnate Word does not believe in a free press. When information is suppressed, everyone—including governments—lose. Incarnate Word is preparing to return to the Dark Ages and the Days of Inquisition? SHAME

Arthur Ide, at 11:35 am EDT on June 30, 2006
Mendell Morgan, Grow Up!

When I first read that Mendell Morgan cancelled the Incarnate Word’s subscription to the New York Times because he disagreed with its latest scoop, I had reacted with dismay and amusement. If I had not known better I would have assumed that the person in questions was a spoiled teenager reacting impetuously to a decission that he/she did not agree with, such as not receiving enough money for allowance. That someone in that position can make such a petulant decision is very disturbing not only for the glaring lack of professionalism and maturity but for the blatant exposure of his own political bias. Had he also cancelled the subsciption to “The Weekly Standard” or “American Conservative” or “The Washington Times” then we would all know that his approach is balanced and in the spirit of respect for all viewpoints. What Mr. Morgan is trying to do is to control the dissemination of news, of knowledge. This is in direct contradiction of what his role is about. If he disagrees with the politices of a faculty member, would he deny him/her access to the library? He has opened himself to much criticism and deservedly so. If I were the president at the Incarnate Word, I would be extremely disconcerted by this irrational decision.

Tom, at 11:35 am EDT on June 30, 2006
NY Times

As an academic librarian, I seriously question the logic for any library dean to cancel a resource unilaterally. That said, this decision doesn’t strike me as anything but tilting at windmills. I suspect that the dean cancelled merely the print version of the NY Times; I quick look at their web site reveals that they still have a historic subscription (back to 1851) through Proquest, and a current electronic subscription through Gale and Lexis-Nexis.

In other words, for the university to “cancel” its subscription to the NYT, it will have to cancel its Lexis-Nexis subscription, too. If their dean is really looking to make a statement, I’d suggest he try to cancel Lexis-Nexis. Until then, his decision (with which I disagree, though that’s irrelevant to this point) doesn’t impress me a lick.

J Wiser, Librarian, at 1:05 pm EDT on June 30, 2006

University of the Incarnate Word...ever heard of them? No? Yeah, neither have I.

What is this guy thinking? I know it’s located in Texas, so I guess they’re backing their own. The funny thing is that 4 years ago the Bush Administration was touting this program publicy. Funny how in an election year when things look bleak they “create” controversy that will make them look strong on Ntional Sercurity.

What?!?!?, at 3:10 pm EDT on June 30, 2006

The First Amendment does not require any person or organization to fund activities or organizations with which they disagree. Incarnate Word is a private university and no more obligated to support the New York Times than they are to support Stormfront.

JD, at 3:30 pm EDT on June 30, 2006

Cancelling the Times, or any offering from a news venue is no worse than ending a comic book subscription. Faculty members need to stop crying about meaningless perks. Students have no respect for whiners.

Mike, at 4:55 pm EDT on June 30, 2006

Mr. Idle,While I disagree with IC’s decision to cancel the NYT, it is actually an exercise of first amendment rights, not a blow to it.

We have no national Pravda or Signel that all must subscribe to. Thankfully we have no requirement here to keep Mein Kampf or the Red Book on the coffee table. Boycotts are the private citizen’s right and while we may disagree with the specific cause, we should never belittle the right of the citizen to choose what to buy. So, yes there is a free press but I am also free to buy or not buy it.

That said, I don’t agree with their decision and also believe that this is a decision the administration should share in making. However, it is part having a free press, not an attack on it.

MTS, UConn, at 11:15 am EDT on July 1, 2006

First of all, I would have liked to have seen Morgan make a more specific judgment about how the NYT is of no use to scholars in the university. It’s “quality” has no bearing on that, as frequently people study blatant propaganda to understand propaganda. Indeed, some people even study the advertisements in magazines and newspapers. Because of this lack of specifics, I think Morgan is being a little silly. But it is cute.

Obviously Morgan isn’t the sharpest knife in the draw, but there is a heck of a lot of irony to most of his statements:

1) Mining SWIFT data (pursuant to an administrative subpoena) is probably the least legally questionable, and the most likely to be assumed to be taking place, anyway;2) Morgan doesn’t provide specifics about how such disclosure would actually imperil national security (since most people know that there is no 4th amendment interest in financial transactions);3) Morgan doesn’t provide specifics about how the New York Times’ coverage has declined apart from the most recent events;4) Morgan doesn’t provide specifics as to how such intelligence has resulted in anyone’s apprehension (so I think he made it up);5) Finally Morgan doesn’t explain how “National Security Policy” somehow encompasses an exception to the 1st amendment, requiring Americans to not care about things deemed to be “national security” and a potential source of something to vote upon.

His email was absolutely hilarious, and I hope he writes more of them, and they get passed around.

On a serious note academics should note that selectively canceling subscriptions or funding will jeopardize even a private university’s claim to academic freedom.

Larry, at 8:25 pm EDT on July 2, 2006

Checked out
By Char Miller
Morgan acted solely on the basis of a personal political agenda — “ ... the only action I know to register protest for their irresponsible action (treason?) is to withdraw support of their operations by canceling our subscription ... ” Yet it is precisely this reckless, first-person-singular approach to library management that the ALA prohibits in the code of ethics its members agree to uphold. To wit, sections VI and VII:

“We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.

We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.”

It is beyond me how Morgan can remain in his position as dean of this invaluable library, for even his partial — but-I-don’t-really-mean-it -recantation damages his and UIW’s reputations.

Editorial: Reinstating N.Y. Times corrects wrong message.
Web Posted: 07/05/2006 12:00 AM CDT.
San Antonio Express-News