For at least one day last week, Liberty University administrators blocked campus access to the Web site of Lynchburg’s News & Advocate. According to reports, the site was blocked after the newspaper ran a story about the amount of federal student aid the school receives.
The chancellor of the evangelical college, Jerry Falwell Jr., told the News & Advocate that campus policies allow administrators to “block a number of sites at will.” Falwell wouldn’t give the newspaper a reason for blocking access to its site: “We’re a private organization and we don’t have to give a reason and we’re not.” Falwell said the decision was not related to the newspaper’s content.
But Jim Romenesko of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization, reported that an employee of the newspaper believes the site was blocked because of an article by reporter Liz Barry headlined: ”Liberty tops state in federal aid for its students.”
Barry reported that the school received about $445 million in federal financial aid last fiscal year, an increase partly driven by the rapid growth of its online program.
Last week, Salon.com picked up the story and pointed out that Liberty received more funds than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which received $420 million from the federal government.
As of Monday, campus access to the News & Advocate’s site had been unblocked, the paper said..
Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, a Southern Baptist pastor and televangelist who often commented on conservative issues. Falwell died in 2007 and the school is now led by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr.
Liberty is the largest private university in Virginia and “fastest growing Christian Evangelical university in the world,” according to its Web site. In the fall, Liberty had 12,000 students enrolled at its residential campus; last academic year, 52,956 students were enrolled online.
You can read the full News & Advocate article, here.
The original post has been updated.