Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gannett eyes yet another student newspaper

The publisher and editor of The Coloradoan, a Gannett paper in Fort Collins, Colo., met Tuesday with Colorado State University officials to discuss a "strategic partnership" to run the student newspaper, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The news comes just five months after The Rocky Mountain Collegian made national headlines for running an editorial that said "Taser This.... Fuck Bush." Editor-in-Chief J. David McSwane was reprimanded but not fired for his actions.

"This is not happening in a vacuum," Mike Hiestand, an attorney for the Student Press Law Center told The Rocky Mountain Collegian. "This is happening after a very public, pretty nasty fight" between university officials and McSwane.

McSwane asked to attend the meeting between university and Coloradoan officials, but he and Collegian reporters were denied access, according to the Collegian article.

Gannett already owns two student newspapers, FSView & Florida Flambeau, the twice-weekly student paper serving Florida State University, and Central Florida Future at the University of Central Florida. (See articles on the 2006 sale of FSView & Florida Flambeau in The New York Times and InsideHigherEd.com.)

The listserv of College Media Advisers, a national organization a campus newspaper advisers and business managers, was abuzz with news of the Gannett-Colorado State University meeting.

"This takes privatization in a whole new direction and threatens the very core of student press freedom on that campus," wrote Kathy Lawrence, director of student media at the University of Texas-Austin, and a former CMA president. "Everyone who cares about an independent student press needs to sound the alarm loudly."

The news of Gannett's interest in The Rocky Mountain Collegian comes at a time when many professional newspaper publishers are looking for ways to attract a younger readership. Some are trying to lure college students with special regional Web sites aimed at college students like The Loop in Rochester, NY, SwoCol in Southwestern Ohio and BigLickU in Roanoke, Virginia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gannet 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- all 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?

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 the college paper in the last 5 years. They will offer the 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 the 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 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.