Home Politics AVW Newstime deactivates Student Senate election parody accounts

AVW Newstime deactivates Student Senate election parody accounts

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AVW Newstime took down its parody accounts poking fun at tickets running for Student Senate elections, including BARE, Phoenix, Student Nation and SOS, as a result of a meeting on Monday between AVW Newstime Personnel Manager Emma Wahl and Ryant Taylor.

Over the weekend, a controversy arose on the AVW Newstime Facebook fan page when student activist and presidential candidate for the BARE campaign, Ryant Taylor, left a comment asking if the satirical media outlet would have a conversation about changing or taking down the Student Senate ticket parody accounts.

The production group’s correspondent and writer Luke Fikaris and producer Evan Swingle created parody accounts for each ticket to poke fun at the senate candidates — a tradition that has been carried out for years by members of AVW Newstime.

“I went on Twitter and was like ‘I want to know more about these other tickets,’ and I found the Twitter account for Phoenix and… it seemed really unclear to me [whose account it was] and then I looked in the description and saw it said from AVW,” Taylor said.

Taylor first messaged Swingle privately to start a conversation about the accounts, and when he received no response, went to Newstime’s fan page.

 Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 1.20.22 PM

The comment started a long thread of 30-some comments, which read as a public battle between those supporting Taylor’s wanting to have a conversation and AVW’s right to criticize student campaigns. To be completely clear, most of these comments did not come from Taylor or AVW Newstime towards Taylor. Taylor commented that he wanted to have a conversation and eventually Swingle commented that he believed it would be inappropriate and unfair for him to speak with a presidential candidate during election season.

Some of the comments left said that the accounts were “inappropriate,” while others said the jokes were poorly aimed at Taylor for his race and sexual orientation. On the other side, some defended AVW by saying the accounts weren’t intended to be malicious but merely to poke fun.

“My immediate thought, just like any media organization, was they didn’t like the way we were portraying the joke. They didn’t like [that] it was at there expense — which, I would like to point out, was mostly puns,” Swingle said.

He said he asked for specific examples of the accounts being inappropriate or malicious towards a candidate, and no one could give him one.

Taylor wasn’t the only ticket representative that felt the accounts were troublesome. Other tickets had reached out to the Board of Elections to complain about the parody accounts, said BoE Co-chair Omar Kurdi.

“The BoE decided that AVW was not running on any sort of ticket. It was just political satire, so we had no control or any sort of power to censor or control AVW’s satire,” he said.
As for the creative content argument, which Taylor was really advocating for, the team completely agrees.

“I think the main issue with all of these Twitter accounts is that AVW chose to use our exact logos, our exact photos, so that they looked exactly the same. And I think that for a lot of people that was not only confusing…[but] no consent had been given. AVW hadn’t reached out to any of the tickets and asked permission to use any of the photos and that was creative content and that was made by people for a different purpose.”

Wahl, the personnel manager for AVW decided to meet with Taylor to discuss the issue in order to come to an agreement. The two decided that the best way to handle the creative content situation was to have Newstime change the logos and images.

However, because Newstime didn’t want to change their message to comply with a senate candidate’s wishes or opinions, Newstime decided to just deactivate the accounts.

“In retrospect, we should not have [used their photos] because that content didn’t belong to us,” Swingle said. “I think that’s definitely a fair assessment that was made… while I think it got the idea across, and it definitely made the joke — it made the bit — I do feel that the person that created those pictures has the right to say ‘That belongs to me’ and that we probably shouldn’t use this,” Swingle said.

“We don’t want to control anything that [Newstime puts] out. All that we wanted was that, they didn’t use our exact logos and images. And they, in turn, decided to discontinue the twitter accounts,” Taylor said.

After a few days, all parties officially involved — Taylor, Swingle and Wahl — have chalked it up to bad communication.

Swingle said that part of his practice is mastering the art of not crossing the line and he admits this is the first time AVW Newstime might have done so. But in general, the group tries to be “funny and ridiculous and [use] a lot of puns” especially with senate elections.

“The way we can do that is by starting little arguments with them, cracking jokes at their expense — not personally — but at their campaigns expense and just having some fun with them… I think one of the things that is most entertaining is, when someone argues back, we are not going to stop arguing back.”

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  1. Greg

    April 8, 2015 at 5:17 PM

    “mastering the art of not crossing the line”? That’s what parody is SUPPOSED to do. God help today’s college students, who are afraid to offend anyone for anything and want to stay in neatly demarcated boundaries of convention.


  2. […] for student government, continuing “a tradition that has been carried out for years,” The New Political […]


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