Iowa school must pay fees for restricting distribution

IOWA — Iowa State University was forced to pay The Ames Daily Tribune $86,769 by a federal court to help bear the burden of legal expenses associated with a lawsuit against the school.

The lawsuit, which was settled out of court last June, centered around distribution rights on campus.

The suit began when owners of Partnership Press, which owns the Daily Tribune, sued the university, which offered more distribution areas for the campus student paper than for other publications.

It was settled when university administrators agreed to allow the publishers of the Campus Reader and The Ames Daily Tribune to distribute at 39 campus locations. However, Daily Tribune representatives were still upset because the settlement excluded the paper from distributing on certain areas of campus.

Regardless of the suit, Michael Gartner, editor and co-owner of the Tribune, said in an Associated Press story that he was happy with the legal payments awarded.

“That is a large fee award, and I hope it stands as a reminder that no government entity should tread on the speech and press rights secured by the First Amendment,” Gartner said.

Paul Tanaka, director of university legal services, said he feels the paper’s award was not as much as it could have been.

“Although I understand the Tribune regarded it as a victory, the truth of the matter is that the fees that were awarded were at the lower end of the spectrum,” Tanaka said. The maximum award the school could have received was approximately $109,000, while the low was $68,000.

Another related case regarding the Tribune’s efforts to open the campus newspaper’s advertising and business records is still pending before the Iowa Supreme Court, said Tribune lawyer Michael Giudicessi.

In a related conflict between the campus and community newspaper, the Iowa State Daily is awaiting word on the consequences of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit. Annette Forbes, the publication’s general manager, said the tax agency has not contacted the paper yet concerning a possible penalty.

“We have had no further comment from the IRS on that appeal,” she said. The paper, which was included in a university audit for 1995 and 1996, was told that it owed up to $30,000 in back taxes because there was not enough student involvement in the advertising department.