The New Journalistic Watchdogs of Bro-ciety

Paper on Paper: The Observer Gets the Scoop on Rose Hill’s More Radical “Paper”


The paper offers less traditional reporting, and instead provides an outlet for pointed criticism and analysis. (Christina Frasca/The Observer)

In the basement of McGinley lies the office of “the paper,” a student-run newspaper publication that prides itself on avoiding the mainstream, valuing commentary and refusing to be a megaphone for Fordham events. The articles they print, which are often satirical and snarky, give a voice to the opinionated thinkers who want to say something about Fordham, or even the world, without following conventional journalistic rules.

While some articles are clearly sarcastic (“This Just In: The Truth Lies in Straight White Men”), others have a more serious tone (“Turbulence in Yemen”). Writers for the paper are quick to point out shortcomings of Fordham—at times abrasively—but have also taken an interest in some real reporting as well, specifically in the Bronx community.

Sean Kelly, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’12 and editor-in-chief of the paper, sees the publication as an outlet for students to realistically look at issues on campus and approach concerns from the ground up.

“We 100 percent acknowledge that the articles are unabashedly biased. We leave the bias up to the freedom of the writer,” Kelly said. “In allowing a higher degree of creative freedom, we like to think that we provide a perspective that’s more representative of what the student body may think.”

The paper seems unafraid to take risks, calling things out as they see them and speaking candidly about student life. For example, in an article titled, “The Beds are Too Damn Small,” Chris Gramuglia writes, “Living at Rose Hill has its benefits…[you can] be a part of a real community—that is a rarely sober, substance-abusing community that is really only studious twice a semester…”

Since they are entirely funded by the school (they print five issues per semester), the paper doesn’t need to worry about offending advertisers with some of their content.

“Because we are censorship-free, we’re able make arguments that may not be as accepted or as encouraged by administration,” said Marisa Caroll, FCRH ’13, news co-editor and soon to be editor-in-chief of the paper.

While Fordham does allow them flexibility with their content, the paper still gets in trouble for some of what’s published. Kelly said he receives complaints on a regular basis, mainly from alumni, who are mad about the paper’s use of four-letter words.

“About four years ago, a Fordham student objected to the four-letter words and sent us regular mail threatening to call U.S. World and News report to lower our standing as a university,” Kelly said. “So we do provoke ill feelings. But that is part of our point. “

If something does happen to go beyond the borders of creative freedom, the paper will be told to tone things down by their advisor, Jeffrey Gray, Vice President of Student Affairs.

Kelly said that Gray takes a “laissez-faire approach” when it comes to advising the paper. He signs off on their budget packet and if something “crosses the line,” he’ll meet with Kelly.

“He doesn’t always agree with what we do, but he thinks that we do have a place on campus,” Kelly said.

Another paper that has a prominent place on campus is the Ram, the weekly newspaper at Rose Hill. Their approach to journalism is drastically different from the paper’s. The differences between these clubs can sometimes cause hostility.

In the Ram’s April Fool’s Day issue, writers created a drinking game based on the paper, referring to staff members as hipsters.

Kelly said he’s just glad that people are reading the paper enough to formulate that strong of an opinion about it.

“Our big contention with the Ram is that they are consistently kissing the administration’s ass—they seem to be afraid to take their lips off,” Kelly said.

“If you want to hear about Fordham clubs, events, sports and basic bullet points, check with the Ram,” Caroll said, noting that the Ram is good for “Spark Note summarizing.”

The paper calls itself “Fordham University’s student journal of news, analysis, comment and review,” and rarely incorporates reporting in their stories. Of eight news articles printed, Caroll said about one or two may contain actual reporting.

“We focus on commentary and opinion analysis,” Caroll said, noting that their staff sees itself as the watchdog that remains critical of administration.

“The paper is a bunch of funny people. The world is really hard and sad but it’s also pretty funny,” Caroll said.