Professional paper wages war in Iowa

IOWA — A first-of-its-kind lawsuit to determine whether open records laws apply to student newspapers was scheduled to begin hearings in December.Partnership Press v. Iowa State Daily was filed by the publishers of the professional Daily Tribune against the publications board at Iowa State University in December 1995. The Tribune is demanding internal advertising and marketing information from the student newspaper.Iowa State Daily claims it is a private not-for-profit organization exempt from open records laws. The university is backing the student newspaper. Last summer, the school and the student daily signed a memo of understanding. The agreement formalizes the paper’s independence and states that the Iowa State Daily is not “subject to adherence to the Iowa Meetings and Public Records laws….”In September, the Daily Tribune also filed a lawsuit directly against the university over distribution rights on campus. In that case they dispute the university’s differentiation between university and non-university, profit and not-for-profit publications for the purpose of distribution rights. The Tribune is seeking campus-wide access.The case has not yet been scheduled.The Daily Tribune has also threatened legal action against the student newspaper on a third front. The professional paper appealed to the university regents regarding what it believes is unfair competition by the student daily. According to the Daily Tribune, the Iowa State Daily has gone beyond the realm of a student newspaper, employing commercial managers and distributing papers off campus.According to Jeanette Antisdel, the professional manager of the Iowa State Daily, the regents are not likely to do respond favorably their competitor’s appeal. She said, “The case isn’t even on their docket at this time.”