Last week, the editor-in-chief of The Red and Black at UGA resigned over a controversy involving alcohol, the president of the university, and elected officials. While these limited details sound like the makings of a legitimate controversy, further inspection of the event leaves us questioning the response to the event.
As we’ve reported in this issue, former Red and Black Editor-in-Chief Daniel Burnett resigned Monday, Nov. 29, after being asked to leave the president’s box at the school’s football game against Georgia Tech on Nov. 27. Burnett was drinking at a tailgate party before the game.
As students who plan to enter the journalism industry after college, or already have entered said industry, we feel that it’s important to learn a lesson from Burnett’s actions. No matter how professional one feels they may be, it is never a wise idea to mix business and pleasure. As editor-in-chief, Burnett served as the public face for The Red and Black, and his actions as editor-in-chief had the power to do harm to the reputation of UGA’s student newspaper.
Still, we also feel that Burnett’s resignation was overkill in this situation. According to representatives for both Governor Sonny Perdue and Governor-elect Nathan Deal, who were both present in the president’s box, neither man saw anything out of the ordinary. When asked to leave, Burnett left without any argument.
The embarrassment of being asked to leave any place due to intoxication, no matter how well-handled it may be, should have been enough in this situation. There have not been any claims that Burnett was particularly belligerent, and Burnett was of age to consume alcohol. Additionally, let’s not forget the place where everything took place — at a football game.
Looking through Burnett’s work at The Red and Black as editor-in-chief, it’s apparent that he worked to keep up the impartiality of journalists at his paper, while also keeping up efforts to make the paper a watchdog, rather than a lapdog, of the university. It’s a model we all should appreciate, and it’s a shame that The Red and Black has lost a leader standing for these principles.