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.