ARIZONA — About 1,800 copies of the student newspaper at Arizona State University at the West campus disappeared from news stands Nov. 1, and editors suspect the theft is connected to satirical photos published in the issue.
West Express Editor in Chief Eric Johnson said a staff member discovered that newspapers were missing just a few hours after the issue was distributed to spots around the Phoenix, Ariz. campus.
“I was in disbelief,” Johnson said. “I was really disappointed because we have a really small staff and we put in a lot of hours and a lot of effort.”
The stolen issue was part of the newspaper’s annual Halloween “spoof” edition and included photos that were “risquÄ and satirical,” Johnson said. He also said some of the photographs specifically criticized members of the student government.
Jessi Pederson, president of the Associated Students of Arizona State University West, said that the relationship between the West Express and student government leaders has been negative in the past, but denied any involvement with the theft.
“The student government is taking the proper channels to talk with the administration to eradicate this situation,” Pederson said. “[We] have not had the most positive relationship, but we’re looking into some kind of mediation.”
Staff members replaced the missing papers with extra copies of the issue. The West Express prints 3,000 copies per issue, and adviser James Garcia estimated the paper lost $1,200 in advertising revenues and printing costs. Staff members reported the incident to campus security and the Students Affairs Office. The university is investigating the incident, Johnson said.
Garcia said the theft should raise concern around campus.
“The entire community should be extremely disturbed and outraged because this is a microcosm of the type of incidents that occur around the world but in more severe ways,” Garcia said.
The West Express held a free speech forum on Nov. 13 with a panel of experts, Garcia said. He said the event was intended to let the university community know that newspaper theft is “not just a college prank.”