Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rocky Mountain Collegian Update

The director of student media at Colorado State University is preparing a proposal to keep the student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, under student affairs after the university's president announced he was entertaining a proposal for a strategic partnership with Gannett.

"The president has asked for a proposal from Gannett," said Jeff Browne, director of student media at the Fort Collins, Colo. university. "He has not asked us for a proposal but we're going to give him one. We're going to present the president with an alternative to corporate ownership."

On Tuesday, Colorado State University President Larry Penley sent an email to the campus community confirming rumors that university officials had met with the editor and publisher of The Coloradoan, the local Gannett paper, earlier that day.

"As a result of today's meeting," Penley wrote, "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."

Browne said he plans to address these same points in his proposal. He is collecting letters of support from journalism educators, students and others concerned about the independence of student media.

"Even if people aren't familiar with our organization they can write letters explaining why an organization headed by journalism educators is a better fit than one headed by a private corporation and why student media as an educational experience is preferable to student media as a niche publication for corporate overlord experience."

Browne said students involved in media at Colorado State University are "very upset" about Gannett's overture.

Though rumors had been circling for some time, Browne was only notified about discussions between the university and Gannett officials on Tuesday morning when Bob Moore, editor in chief of The Coloradoan, called him as a matter of courtesy to let him know about the meeting later that day with Penley. Apparently, The Coloradoan had approached Penley with the idea of a partnership three months ago and the university president had discussed the matter with the university's Board of Governors in closed-session meetings.

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. In both cases, the local Gannett newspapers bought independently owned student publications. If a deal goes through with Colorado State University, it would be the first time Gannett gets involved in a student paper that had been run by a public university, Browne said.

The CSU Student Media Office is operated under the Division of Student Affairs.

Asked what he thought about Gannett getting into the student newspaper business, Brown remarked wryly, "I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for their stockholders to see their stock rise in value.... They are brilliant capitalists seeing an opportunity to acquire established brands in niche markets."

People who want to submit letters of support may write to:
Jeff Browne, Director of Student Media
LSC Box 13
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-8038


Anonymous said...

My fellow reporters and I discussed this whole idea at our editorial board meeting tonight.
We think it sounds shady. Why would they want to buy a college newspaper? We couldn't see any benefits for Gannett/The Coloradoan.

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! They will use their newspapers on your campus to financially beat your college newspaper into submission. They can sell ads to your advertisers at a ridiculously low rate for a while to alienate your advertisers. They can sell local advertising with local advertiser inserts. They can even create customized coupon books that are inserted in the local and national papers they provide for your campus readers- Just another clever way to steal your college newspaper advertisers. If your paper has potential for profit, they will offer to buy your paper based on a multiple of your greatly reduced ad revenue. They may find it necessary just to eliminate your paper all together.

USA Today Collegiate Readership Program has flatly denied that they are targeting college newspapers- If that is the case why are they lobbying almost every college and university in the United States, sometimes for years, to get their papers on your campus?

The USA Today Collegiate Readership Program 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. On Feb. 15, 2008 a joint initiative called Quadrantone was announced by Gannett, The Tribune Newspapers, Hearst Corp and the New York Times. This program creates an unprecedented on line advertising platform that will allow this newly formed oligopoly to offer localized on line advertising on their member online newspaper websites to local advertisers who have relied on the college newspaper to reach students. With Quadrantone, even the on line editorial content can be customized to reach different demographic groups.

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 metropolitan newspaper (usually a Gannett publication)- often “free of charge” to the students but paid for by the college administration or student government association. That way the program can count all of their newspapers on campus as paid circulation to 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?

Once the USA Today Collegiate Readership program gets the local metropolitan newspaper on the college campuses, their goal is to steal college newspaper advertisers by offering below market display ad rates to local advertisers and below market on line ad rates through the Quadrantone platform. Gannett and the other large newspaper conglomerates share a common goal- put the college newspapers out of business or buy them for a fraction of what they are worth.

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. Their older customers are hooked but the new generation is not buying. When today’s readers die, so goes their readership. Therefore, to survive, Gannett and the other Quadrantone members are aggressively trying to establish a foothold on college campuses.

A few days after the local metropolitan paper and the two national papers are made available for free in nice shiny racks on the college campus, the multitude of ad reps for the local metropolitan paper and Quadrantone 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 local college paper in the last 5 years. They will offer the college newspaper advertiser a display ad rate so low that the advertiser will jump ship. Now that Quadrantone can offer locally targeted online advertising, the college newspapers that have local online advertising revenue will no longer be able to compete.

"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 or some other newspaper giant might come to the rescue and buy out your college newspaper if it has the potential for profit. If not, they will just kill it by practically giving away their ads to the college market advertisers. If the college paper gets bought out, 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.

If the students start working for Gannett, they better not 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 the USA Today Collegiate Readership Program marketers have 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.

Anonymous said...

Gannett is evil!

Anonymous said...

I have seen huge collection of newspapers at USA Today store....!