The directors of the Diamondback, the independent student daily newspaper of the University of Maryland, fired the paper's editor in chief last night, citing management practices that they said caused missed deadlines and contributed to several staff resignations.
Alfred R. Hogan, who had been editor of the paper since April, was dismissed for "misfeasance" by a 9-to-2 vote, with one abstention, by the student-faculty board of directors of Maryland Media Inc. The corporation owns the Diamondback and several other campus newspapers.
Board members said Hogan consistently missed the paper's 1 a.m. deadline, averaging 3:08 a.m. over a 21-day period. They said readers and advertisers complained that some students were not able to get a copy of the paper because it was arriving on the College Park campus late in the morning.
"For the first time in 76 years, the Diamondback has become an afternoon paper. There is a serious problem with roll time [the time copy is sent to the printer] and lack of staff," said Susan Gainen, board president.
Hogan, 26, a junior journalism major who has worked on the paper as an editor and reporter since 1981, said the missed deadlines were due to numerous staff changes since the fall semester began.
"We have had staff leaving the paper for academic reasons, family reasons, housing reasons and sometimes personality conflicts. Having to recruit and fill positions complicated putting out the paper," Hogan said. He said the publication time had improved on the average of an hour in the last 10 days.
Several board members also expressed concern that a number of senior staff members had resigned recently and were worried that Hogan did not have a proper staff to operate the paper. Maryland Media General Manager Michael Fribush said there are usually five to six more senior editors in the staff box than the three currently listed.
Hogan blamed the staffing problems on an "ongoing trend of experienced people spending less time on the paper." He said editors who used to spend three to four years on the paper now stay only one or two years.
"Under the circumstances, we've done the best we could," Hogan said, adding that two senior editors were added to the paper this week.
Greg Kerr, a 23-year-old senior government major, was appointed acting editor in chief.
After the meeting, Hogan said the board "made an unfortunate mistake. It gives me great sadness to have put in all this hard work and have this happen."
Less than two weeks after Hogan took control of the paper last spring, more than half of the paper's 50 staff members went on strike to protest his management practices, but the strike was resolved in less than 24 hours.