Friday, December 3, 2010

Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser?

My last blog post, looking at MariLuz Diaz' "Imagine..." column got a lot of interesting responses. For those who didn't read it, Diaz' column was about usage of the "n-word" and how she felt it was not acceptable. My response was about how I felt that the word was slowly becoming more acceptable.

I was discussing the blog post with the Editor-in-Chief of West Virginia University's newspaper, (aka my girlfriend, Candace Nelson). My "blog influence" at Concord is something that has come up as a topic between us several times. She's impressed that I have decent readership and, more importantly, that people seem to listen to me when I say something.

She was looking through the comments section and asking me about the people. There were a couple anonymous comments, a comment from Justin Grathwohl, one from MariLuz, and a couple from Lindsey Mullins. Grathwohl is a former Concord student who is now working in the Las Vegas area. He was involved in the SGA and was also a former Concordian columnist. MariLuz is the current Opinions Editor of The Concordian. Mullins is the faculty adviser of the paper.

When I told her who Mullins was, she brought up whether or not it was appropriate for Mullins to be making the comments that she was making. That led to Candace writing her own blog post about the subject. Here's the link -

She discusses the role of an adviser, and how she feels as though Mullins was acting unprofessionaly by posting comments about MariLuz' work in my blog.

"Yes, maybe [MariLuz'] writing isn't up to par," Candace writes. "Maybe she needs to do some more work, but when was it ever, ever okay to critique your student's work on the public blog of another student?"

Candace notes the fact that Mullins is representing Concord University as a professor, and that she believes this looks bad on Concord's part - "This adviser is representing her university, and Concord seriously made a flawed decision in hiring this women if this is any indication of how she runs her newspaper."

I've been a member of the newspaper staff under Lindsey Mullins for three semesters. Two as Editor-in-Chief of the paper, and one as a staff writer. My two as EIC were her first two semesters as a professor at Concord. I blogged about Mullins in June, after a chance meeting at Taco Bell. Click here to read that. At the time, she was not coming back to Concord in the fall; however, that obviously changed, as she's still here.

I don't know if I'll have any thoughts on the subject I want to throw out. I'll let Candace's blog post sink in and see what comes out of that. Any thoughts, comments, criticism, etc on the subject from anybody else is welcome and encouraged. As always, anonymous comments are allowed. Keep it civil and relatively clean.


  1. I've always felt that Concord is a very unique school. The numbers there are small enough where professors and advisers can have a bit more slack when it comes to interacting with their students on and off campus in both professional and casual encounters. A lot of the professors/advisers are very awesome people who I, on occasion, called friend and could really talk to them.

    It seems, to me, that people from larger schools don't quite get that concept since their advisers are usually somewhat distant characters who they rarely interact with on a regular basis.

    It's not really something that can be accurately explained as it's really, in my mind, a unique process at Concord. There were a lot of faculty and staff that I knew on a casual (sometimes first name) basis. It's a professional small town.

  2. Furthermore, I feel this kind of relationship Concord students can build with their advisers is a Good Thing (TM).

  3. Concord is a unique school. I feel those who go/went to small colleges feel as though WVU is one giant University where you interact with everyone. You don't. I'm within a small college, one of the smallest on campus - the journalism school. So, the numbers are small, and I'm on a first-name basis with a lot, if not most, of my professors. I have casual relationships with them, I've gone out for drinks with them. But they would never bash my writing on another person's blog.

    Building a close relationship with an adviser is a great thing. In fact, it's usually essential to running a successful paper. That's why this is so sad to see. I would be very uncomfortable, betrayed, embarrassed, etc., if the person who is supposed to be my "friend" and help me, just straight up says how terrible I am for the entire world to see. As a journalist, you get enough bashing from readers. Advisers are people who are supposed to build you up and make you better. Those people should criticize you in private, let the readers bash.

  4. Thank you Justin for your response. I chose to return to Concord as a faculty member for the reasons your brought up. I apologize if any were offended by my response and I will not respond to any more student blogs as a result of this attack on my character.
    I don't think that stating that one article a student wrote out of 16 semesters isn't her finest work is unprofessional. I thought that since MariLuz's column had been attacked I would use it as an opportunity to discuss how to deal with attacks and to use them to motivate her to be examine her work from a critical perspective prior to print. If anyone perceived my response differently then I apologize. Even professionals do things sometimes that they may regret later.... I never said I was perfect!

    My staff knows that I want our student newspaper to be very successful and almost weekly I praise them for their great work.

    The great news is that I don't have to answer to Candace Nelson. If any of MY students want to addresss issues with me regarding my posts or anything else my office hours are posted. I am sure my direct supervisor Mr. Jack Sheffler's are also posted.

    The best news is that Mariluz and I have already discussed the blog Ms. Nelson wrote and she stated that she likes my honest criticism of her work.

    If my student didn't mind my post then who is Candace Nelson? Answer: She is another person with a right to freedom of speech
    just like me!

    I think many can see that I was just trying to get people on the blog to turn their comments into letters for the opinions page.
    Keep reading the Concordian!!

    Ms. Mullins

  5. Candace,

    No where in my post did I say that this writer was terrible!

    Ms. Mullins

  6. Ms. Mullins,

    My intentions were not to discourage you from commenting, nor were they to attack your character. I think your intentions, to help your writer, are good. The way you went about doing it was the problem. Everyone needs honest criticism, and most people need that in private. I would never do that to any of my writers, and it shocked me someone in your position would do so. That inspired me to blog. And if you can get letters to the editor out of this, that's fantastic. None of us are perfect, and oftentimes, that's why some journalists have jobs. Thanks for your response.

  7. just saying... From an alumni's perspective that was there WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too long (i think i just blew my anonymous cover...)

    Lindsey is the best thing to happen to the Communications program.. Not since the days of Ron Burgher, has there been a communications professor as honest. Her not being swayed by the political views of Bill O'Reilly and Faux News was a refreshing change. As well the same can be said it was good she was not completely and totally obsessed with rhetoric. Not saying that rhetoric is a bad thing.. You just don't have to shove it down the throats of your students 24/7.

    Lindsey (as most of her students with the exception of one exceptionally creepy one know her as) is an amazing professor and i believe that the classes i had with her were classes that i actually enjoyed attending in the CART department.

  8. Here's a comment left on Facebook by Jeff Harvey, a 20+ year reporter for the Princeton Times:

    "Chris, I only see the Concordian if I'm on campus for a story, so I'm not familiar with the story behind the story. As you already know, I spent my last two years at Concord doing everything but editor-in-chief. I was a reporter, business manager, news editor and sports editor. Kim Hartshorn and Sheila O'Briant were our advisers in respective years and Doc Burgher also took an active part in staff meetings. We had a real advantage in that Susan Wilson Tuck, then Susan Willams, came to our staff having worked as a layout person for the Monroe Watchman. Kim didn't do that much, but Sheila was with us every week for layouts.
    I've spent the last 21 years of my life with the Princeton Times, pretty much doing everything under the sun at one time or the other. I've had two handsful of bosses, either general managers, division heads, editors or de facto editors. Two of them, Cheryl Mays and Sarah Dalton, work at Concord now, one is Tammie Toler, 13 years younger than I, one, Barbara Hawkins, now does the legislative beat for WVVA. Anita Rosen Howerton is retired. I've lost track of Chuck Denham and Randy Thompson. Jim Terry and Jerry Morgan have passed away. Pretty much my education as a reporter occurred more under Anita, Sarah, Barbara and Tammie than the rest.
    I hope this has been helpful to you in some way. I would say that criticizing a student reporter in the comments section of a blog would be poor form for an advisor."

  9. Here's Lindsey Mullins response to Jeff Harvey, that she left on Facebook:


    I don't think that saying a student's work is not her best work out of a 16 week semester is criticizing her. Additionally, I wasn't being critcal of the student's recent opinion's piece. I just commented on her attack on athletes as a whole on campus on the blog (which had nothing to do about the newspaper.) However, I have learned my lesson as a young professional to not comment on blogs outside of work."

  10. I'd like to make note that 2 comments by John Gallimore & John Meadows on the blog that inspired this - "Looking at the Nov. 17 Imagine column" were sent to my blog's "spam comment" folder for some reason & I had to approve them before they could be posted. I did not realize this immediately after they posted, and therefore they were only just now added to the comments section. They both have some very interesting comments & I feel that you should check them out.

  11. As an anonymous reader I want to say that way to much time is spent on one issue. If a person does not like what is being said about them they need to go directly to whoever it was that made them feel uncomfortable and sit down and discuss the problem. Not go off half cocked and start commenting about it on a blog that sounds like it is so one sided.

  12. I agree with you anonymous reader!

  13. I too agree with the poster from December 4, 2010 9:47 PM. The keyboard is the ideal setting for the passive agressive coward who is bold enough to complain but can't handle any accountability. Chris Slater has always had a way of never having the balls to actually address someone face to face when he disagrees with them. For all the years he's spent whining about SGA (way too many), he's never bothered to hold a legitimate position there and, even more revealing, he's never even stood up and actually participated in the debate during the meeting.