Student journalists still waiting for answers on newspaper theft

CALIFORNIA– Student journalists at Pasadena City College are currentlywaiting for the release of a police report detailing the May 8 theft of nearly5,000 copies of their newspaper, theCourier.

Theafternoon of the theft, four people entered the Courier’s office and dropped offgarbage bags filled with torn up copies of thenewspaper, Courier News Editor Dean Leesaid. The bags had a note attachedtaking responsibility for the theft with a signature claiming to be from thecampus Hispanic group MEChA, he added.

The note expresseddisappointment in the paper’s coverage, claiming the newspaper failed toreport on an event sponsored by MEChA the week prior, Leesaid.

”The end of the note said, ‘we see this as arepresentative example of the attitude the campusCourier has toward higher education andtowards MEChA. As students of PCC we cannot accept this issue of the campusCourier,”’ hesaid.

Shortly after the bags were dropped off, staff members calledthe campus police and filed a report. However, the investigation is stillunderway, and members of MEChA claim the group as a whole was not responsiblefor the theft, Lee said.

Brad Young, interim director of PasadenaCity College’s Police and Safety Services Department, did not respond to severalmessages seeking comment.

The Courier staff, with the help of adviserMikki Bolliger, predicted the theft cost the paper more than$2,000.

”It’s going to be $1,200…that’s what thepolice have estimated, but they didn’t take into account the advertisingthat was in there and lost. [The advertising] by itself was just under$1,000,” said Bolliger, who has been theCourier’s adviser for more than30 years.

The paper’s staff is not concerned with money at this point.

”It’s not really the money we’re after asfar as the paper. We’re working more toward an academic solution…thatsomebody is held responsible for doing this,” Lee said. ”We’remore interested in the fact that [those responsible] are basically denying theschool the newspaper. They’re saying that they have the right to stealnewspapers, which they don’t.”

Bolliger agreed saying, ”[the students] wanted something done so that everyone on campus is aware that you can’t go around destroying newspapers. They don’t want the college to say, ‘OK, well let’s just negotiate and find out what wasbothering these people when they did it.’ It doesn’t matter what wasbothering them, destroying papers is wrong.”

Juan Gutierrez,director of public relations at Pasadena City College, declined to comment onthe newspaper theft during a pending investigation, but said that if studentsare charged with the theft, they will be punished.

”ThePasadena City College follows the [education] code of California and complieswith all federal, state and local laws. If there have been violations, thosethat committed the violations will be held accountable,” Gutierrezsaid.

Bolliger said she hopes that a precedent set forth the lasttime the Courier was stolen willprevail.

”I think the last time [there was a theft] was in the1990s, and at that time, the student was prosecuted,” she said. ”Hepaid for the run of the paper and we reran the paper because all the copies hadbeen destroyed…so he paid for the initial run, the rerun of the paper and theadvertising.”

The Courier staff has had some contact withthe group they believe took their papers, Bolliger said.

”Thepresident of MEChA came in last week and he said that the group is notresponsible for this. He said, ‘we are about education…some of ourmembers may have done this, but it is not the group,”’ shesaid.