Cursor experiences increasing pressure from the TU/e Executive Board and the editorial board not to publish certain articles that they consider undesirable. The most recent example of this is an article about conflict of interest, written by our colleague Bridget Spoor. A negative advice was issued by the editorial board regarding the publication of this article, but the advice was not based on journalistic principles. According to the editorial board, the article “does not meet the information needs of the TU/e community.”
Shortly afterwards, pressure was put on our editor-in-chief Han Konings to take up another position within the organization. This after a first attempt to dismiss him from his post in 2021, also after a sensitive article.
The restriction of freedom of press and the pressure exerted have had a negative impact on the editorial staff for a long time. It has become apparent that the current editorial statute does not provide sufficient protection - as prescribed by the Dutch Association of Journalists - to safeguard Cursor's independence.
We feel enormous uncertainty about the future of Cursor as an independent medium that writes according to generally applicable journalistic standards about matters that have to do with the TU/e community or are relevant to this community. Also about matters that are less favorable for the reputation of the university, as was the case with the article in question.
The editors have thoroughly checked whether the article has been written in accordance with all agreed journalistic principles; all sources and facts have been carefully checked. Room has been given for an adversarial procedure and the person the article is about has not been able to demonstrate any factual mistakes. Yet the editorial board stuck with its negative advice to refrain from publishing and the pressure not to publish became increasingly tangible. The editor-in-chief decided not to publish the article under these circumstances because he was afraid of the consequences.
Our colleague Bridget Spoor “couldn't live with this”, as she repeatedly indicated to the rest of the editors, and ultimately felt forced to take this issue into her own hands through the Whistleblowers Protection Act. On June 26, she filed an official complaint with the university. After many detours, the complaint ended up with the committee for reporting irregularities. The people involved in this case will not be heard until the end of October.
In this situation we cannot do our job properly. We ask the Executive Board to be transparent with the community about whether Cursor should be able to function as an independent journalistic medium. If that is the case, the following steps are necessary to safeguard that independence:
- The current editorial board will make way for a new, independent editorial board;
- Cursor's editorial staff will have a vote in appointing a new editor-in-chief;
- The editorial statute is being revised to safeguard Cursor's independence.
The Cursor editors