In the month of November there have been at least five incidents of newspaper theft on college campuses. At one school the thieves have been caught, but in at least two other cases the motive is unknown.
At the University of New Mexico, 2,000 copies of the Daily Lobo were taken prior to distribution on Nov. 14. After discovering the shortage, editors rushed an order to have those copies reprinted, costing the newspaper an additional $180.
Later the same day, nearly all of the missing copies appeared around Albuquerque campus with the addition of a flier. The insert was a campaign advertisement encouraging students to vote for a certain political party in the student government elections.
In a letter to the editor, the nine candidates whose names appeared on the flier apologized to the Daily Lobo for any “inconvenience” they caused the paper, but they refused to admit to any wrongdoing.
“Since the Daily Lobo is a free student publication, with student fees going to publication, and since we are all students, we do not see a problem with putting our flyers [sic] into the Daily Lobo,” the letter said.
Daily Lobo editor Iliana Limon said she has had a hard time educating the culprits that stealing newspapers as an infringement on the paper’s press freedom and expecting free advertising has negative financial consequences on the newspaper.
“They are starting to understand the severity of the crime, but still do not comprehend the full implications of their actions on our newspaper,” Limon said.
The incident is being handled by the student government as an election procedure violation, and not a newspaper theft. The nine students were ordered to pay the student government a fine of $85.50 each for violating election rules.
Limon said she has not received any reassurance from the university that the thieves will be punished independently from the punishment handed down by the student government. She is also unsure if they will recover the financial loss from the incident.
Newspapers were also stolen from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in Pomona, on Nov. 8. Copies of The Argo were placed in distribution bins on Monday, Nov. 5, and by Thursday they were gone.
Shaun Reilly, editor of The Argo, said a large percentage of the 3,500 issues printed were missing, and that the vanishing of all the papers is highly unusual. Even though Reilly has no evidence as to who stole the papers, he said the incident might be in response to two separate articles in the issue. One article pertained to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the college president and another article about vandalism to student cars.
Finally, one thousand copies of Jacksonville University’s student newspaper were discovered missing around 9 a.m. on Nov. 2.
The only copies of the Nov. 1 issue of The Navigator not stolen were the 600 reserved for the administration. The weekly newspaper was distributed around 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 1, but by the next morning all the newspaper’s public distribution boxes on campus were empty.
The Navigator received no threats prior to the theft, and there are no leads as to who is responsible or what the motivation is behind the act, said Editor Trisha Breedlove. The university’s public safety department is investigating the theft, but was unavailable for comment.
Thefts have also been reported this month at Baker University in Kansas and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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