Eighteen members of The Emory Wheel’s editorial board voted Monday on three amendments to the newspaper’s current constitution.
The amendments address the Wheel’s internal structure and ethical considerations. Amendments one and three passed unanimously, while amendment two passed with one abstention.
“Our current editorial structure brings into account some ethical issues” said Zak Hudak, College junior and Editor-in-Chief. “The new editorial system is a necessary thing that will allow our paper to have more impact and integrity.”
The Wheel’s Constitution was ratified on January 29, 1998, and defines guidelines for staff structure, voting procedures and expected conduct of those involved with the newspaper.
Under the proposed amendments, the impeachment of the Editor-in-Chief will require a petition, formatting style within all Wheel articles will be consistent and the editorial board will consist of the Editor-in-Chief and nine to 15 members of the Emory community who are not editors for sections or involved with other aspects of the Wheel.
The editorial board currently consists of the Editor-in-Chief, the executive editor, managing editors, photo editors, layout editors, digital editors, associate editors, all section editors and their assistants.
The new editorial board structure, as established in the second amendment, will ensure a division between objective news coverage and opinion writing. This particular amendment took shape amidst last month’s on-campus chalkings and resulting protests. Hudak said that he found it crucial to “cut out all those who had touched the story” from participating in staff editorial discussions about those events in order to maintain credibility and neutrality.
Positions on the editorial board, which will require 10 to 15 hour-per-week commitments, will be filled by members of the Emory community. Potential candidates will submit applications for recommendation by current Wheel editors, who will then report their recommendations to the editor-in-chief for approval.
College senior and Opinion Editor Brandon Wagner emphasized the necessity of this change, saying that the newspaper’s opinion pieces may now “have the scope that the Emory community deserves.”
In addition to presenting ethical concerns, the current editorial board structure brings in too many opinions, Hudak said.
“With 25 people in the room, [generating an editorial] is impractical, as it is difficult to come up with anything that has teeth,” Hudak said.
The new set up will also provide a more manageable workload for section editors.
“The changes would allow section editors more time to work exclusively on their sections, so that content can be improved,” said Sam Budnyk, College junior and managing editor.
While Hudak said the new editorial board may encounter a few “growing pains” at first, he said that he expects a positive outcome from the new system.
“We have a group of extraordinarily motivated and talented people, so I have confidence in everyone working here and the new people coming in,” he said. “The new system … has checks and balances, so editors can veto decisions I make.”
Goizueta Business School senior Dustin Slade and the Wheel’s previous Editor-in-Chief also expressed confidence in the new editorial board structure.
“The changes will allow the Wheel to cover campus on a whole new level, on a new level of professionalism,” he said.
Although it will be the most significant change, the implementation of a new editorial board structure through the second amendment to the Wheel’s constitution is only one of three changes.
Amendment one to the Wheel’s constitution outlines the voting procedure for Editor-in-Chief, stating that individuals who wish to run for the position must declare their candidacy two weeks in advance. This candidacy must be approved in a vote by Wheel staff members, including members of the editorial board. During the election, the candidate must receive over half of the votes in order to be elected.
Editors are also able to impeach the Editor-in-Chief in a process of petitioning and voting with a two-thirds majority. Impeachment will now have a clearly defined process, whereas before, Wheel staff needed to produce a two-thirds vote favoring impeachment. The new amendment states that half of the section editors must sign a petition to pursue impeachment of the Editor-in-Chief, and the Faculty Advisor must schedule a vote.
Amendment three defines stylistic updates that need to be implemented throughout the constitution, such as the correction of grammatical errors and word inconsistencies.
“Editorial Board,” for instance, will refer to the group that partakes in opinion-forming duties, while “Editors of The Emory Wheel” will refer to those who are responsible in other administrative and objective capacities, including as section editors.
With these amendments, both Hudak and Slade expressed optimism for the Wheel’s future.
“Overall, the Wheel will be a more serious institution, but also a better newspaper with more potential impact on campus,” Hudak said.
No staff member involved in writing amendments contributed to reporting or editing of this article.