Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSU president 's letter on Gannett partnership

On Tuesday, Colorado State University President Larry Penley sent an e-mail to the campus community confirming rumors that university officials had met with the editor and publisher of The Coloradoan, the Gannett paper in Fort Collins, Colo., to discuss a "potential strategic partnership." Here is the complete e-mail, sent to all faculty, staff and students at 5:52 p.m.:

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students of Colorado State University:

Based on a few questions from faculty and the many students who
stopped by my office today, I want to update you regarding inquiry
from the Coloradoan - a Gannett owned newspaper - relative to a
potential strategic partnership with the Collegian.

Today, ASCSU President Katie Gleeson and I met with Coloradoan
Publisher Christine Chin and Executive Editor Robert Moore to listen
to their ideas.

Late last year, Christine Chin called my office to set up an
appointment to discuss a potential collaboration, and based on the
university's strong relationship with the Coloradoan, we agreed to
hear what the newspaper organization could offer our students.

As a result of today's meeting, we have asked Gannett to submit a
formal proposal, and asked that they address how a strategic

-Would enhance educational opportunities for student journalists;
-Would enhance professional opportunities for student journalists;
-Could enhance journalism faculty advisory participation;
-Could improve services to the larger student body.

Should the Coloradoan choose to move forward, we will make the
consideration of the proposal a public process whereby input from
students, faculty and staff will guide my advice to the Board of
Governors in making any decisions. Ultimately, the Board and I want
to seek opportunities to improve the student experience - including
educational and career opportunities - at Colorado State University.

People interested in commenting, can reach President Penley directly at


Anonymous said...

If your school is approached by the Gannett/USA Today Collegiate Readership Program, I hope that you will consider this: They want to steal your college newspaper advertisers and financially beat your college newspaper down by drastically reducing your ad revenue so that they can take over your college newspaper and promote their corporate ideology.

Gannett has a USA Today Collegiate Readership Program that has been cleverly marketed to colleges and universities across the country as a way to enlighten our students and improve the journalism skills of the campus newspaper writers.

Here is the bottom line- This USA Today program is nothing more than a
surreptitious way to curry favor with students and administrators under the guise of providing a valuable educational service to our community. Make no mistake about it. The goal of the USA Today readership program is not to enlighten our students and broaden their perspectives as they would have you believe. Their sneaky plan involves bringing USA Today and usually the New York Times on campus along with the local Gannett metropolitan newspaper- often free of charge to the students but paid for by the college administration. That way they can count all Gannett newspapers on campus as paid circulation and justify ad rate increases. The typical metropolitan newspaper is written on an 8th grade reading level. Is that the kind of education and enlightenment that our students can look forward too?

Why are they doing this? The average age of today’s metropolitan newspaper reader is 56 years old! The newspaper industry has the same dilemma as the tobacco industry. The older customers are hooked but the new generation is not buying. When today’s readers die, so goes their readership. Therefore, to survive, Gannett, the largest media company in the United States, is aggressively trying to establish a foothold on college campuses by offering three newspapers, one of which is always a local or regional Gannett publication.

A few days after the local Gannett paper and two national papers are made available for free in nice shiny racks on the campus, the multitude of ad reps for the local Gannett paper will be calling on every local business within a 10-mile radius of the campus and they will of course call EVERY national advertiser that has used your college paper in the last 5 years. They will offer your college newspaper ad customers a column inch rate that the college paper can’t possibly match. They will do this long enough to destroy the advertising revenue of the college paper. This is how Gannett gobbles up the competition.

"Citizen Kane" is often considered by movie critics to be the best

"Citizen Kane" is a 1941 mystery/drama film. Released by RKO Pictures,
it was the first feature film directed by Orson Welles. The story
traces the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a man whose career
in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but
gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power."- Wikipedia

It supposedly centers around the life of William Randolph Hearst, the
undisputed giant in the newspaper industry in the early 1900's. He
tried everything he could to ban the movie from reaching the theaters
and almost succeeded. If you want to see what corporate greed in the
newspaper industry looks like, watch the movie.

But don't worry. When all looks lost, Gannett will come to the rescue and buy out your college newspaper. By that time, half the students have already been laid off because the decrease in ad revenue has necessitated drastic measures. No problem- except that the students that are left now work for a huge multimedia conglomerate and they can kiss goodbye the editorial freedom they have taken for granted.

Once the students start working for Gannett, don’t say something that Gannett does not agree with in the college paper, especially when it comes to politics. Study Gannett’s political mindset and commit it to memory or risk being shown the door. Gannett knows how the game is played. Gannett has already bought an independent college newspaper in Florida and is about to buy another student newspaper in Colorado. This is just the beginning. The alarming fact is that Gannett has duped students and their administrators into thinking that their motives are purely altruistic. That should insult the collective intelligence of our future leaders.

The student newspaper, the last bastion of true freedom of expression in the print media, is slowly being destroyed by a modern day Citizen Kane.

georgefisch said...

USA Today and other Newspaper conglomerate Collegiate Readership Programs have flatly denied in print articles that they want to steal your college newspaper readers. “Gannett dismissed any suggestion that it planned to conquer student journalism.

"There is no grand Gannett strategy," said Tara Connell, a spokeswoman at its headquarters in McLean, Va. "Gannett is not looking to buy college newspapers. We look at all sorts of things." (quoted in numerous online publications)

Oh really? Read this article from The Rocky Mountain Collegian on Mar. 7.

Excerpt from the University of Alabama Crimson and White online 2/13/08:

“Barbara Hall, the USA Today representative who coordinated the UA (university of Alabama) program, said USA Today is trying to create a "learning environment on the University campus through the reading of newspapers."

"If they're only interested in increasing student readership, why doesn't [USA Today] just give away the papers for free?" Isom (from the Crimson and White) asked.

“Asked that question, Hall said she did not know, except that newspapers cost money to produce and distribute. She said, however, that USA Today is more for businessmen and that the paper "is not going after the college market anytime in the near future." End of quote (Crimson White Online- 2/13 /08)

Remember- only paid circulation is recognized by the Audit Bureau of Circulation- the oversight organization that verifies circulation numbers that newspapers use to increase their ad rates. That Mrs. Hall, is why you can’t give away your newspapers, but of course you knew that already didn’t you? Just another example of the double talk that Gannett is known for.

By the way- it is generally accepted that the USA Today Collegiate Readership program was started at Penn State. USA today would have us believe (per their website) that Penn State hatched the idea and USA today blessed it. Following is a link to an article published in 1989- 8 years before the "first USA today readership program."

If they are not interested in acquiring college newspapers or “partnering,” why are large newspaper corporations lobbying almost every college and university in the United States, sometimes for years, to get their papers on your campus? Every free paper on your campus takes readers and advertisers away from your college newspaper. One can only read so many newspapers.

A. Rooney