He said/She did? So he started a newspaper & wrote about it

A student newspaper controversy is heating up at the University of Tennessee, according to a recent article from Insider Higher Ed.

Mustapha Moussa, a 40 year-old sophomore (journalism and electronic media), is editor-in-chief of the newly minted newspaper The Athenaeum News. The paper’s first two editions featured cover stories about an alleged affair between a student and professor at Tennessee. The female student has since married geography professor Henri Grissino-Mayer. The student, Brandi, is also the ex-wife of newspaper editor Moussa.

Moussa says he isn’t out for revenge, rather this journalist is out to expose a story that some have tried to keep hidden. He insists he’s just trying to do his due diligence as a journalist, according to Inside Higher Ed, and he suggests that “journalists are never popular.” His ex-wife’s attorney begs to differ, suggesting that the editor’s motives aren’t about journalistic excellence. All agree that Moussa maintains a First Amendment right to the freedom of speech , however Brandi’s attorney has said that Moussa’s journalism ethics might be skewed.

From Insider Higher Ed:

Sally Renaud, president of the College Media Advisers group, said she has no problem with more students creating newspapers, but from what she can tell, this seems to have been done with retribution in mind.

And retribution “is not an ethical reason to start a newspaper, but historically, boy, has it been,” she said. “People with power who can pay for media have used media to their advantage.”

The newspaper (Moussa) has recently taken to responding to its critics (and more response here).

Why the continued coverage of the situation? Moussa said he wants to see change in the university policy, and perhaps this is the policy in question, from the university’s faculty handbook:

Relationships between students and their teachers, advisors, and others holding positions of authority over them should be conducted in a manner that avoids potential conflicts of interest or exploitation. Given the inherent differences in power between faculty and students, all members of the university community should recognize the possibility of intentional or unintentional abuse of that power.

I wonder if Mr. Moussa might want to focus his attention on another failed policy, the policy better known as marriage vows. This seems to be the policy that has failed and that seems to be a matter between him and her, not the University of Tennessee, and certainly not front-page news of a newspaper created by a scorned ex-husband.

The question remains, can Ms. Moussa objectively report on or even investigate the university’s policies or professor that are interwoven with the demise of his marriage? Further, should he be exercising editorial control over this issue that so deeply and personally affects him? It is entirely possible that he has some legitimate claims and grievances, however creating a paper to air them doesn’t have the appearance of the most ethic way to get resolution. Personally, I’m much less inclined to believe any reports on the topic with Moussa’s paper, while the same reports in another paper would be entirely believable.

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