COLORADO — A Gannett spokeswoman said last week the mediacompany wanted to buy Colorado State University’s student paper but stoppedcommunicating with the university after officials told the company in a Jan. 22 meeting that thepaper was not for sale.
The Rocky Mountain Collegian reported Gannett’s statements in an article publishedFriday.
Colorado State officials and representatives from the Gannett-ownednewspaper the Coloradoan previously had said the closed meeting was todiscuss a strategic partnership between the paper and the Collegian.
Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell told the Student Press Law Center Fridaythat although a partnership was discussed, the company was only seeking to buythe student paper and has not actively pursued any type of partnership.
“No one at Gannett is continuing conversation with them,” Connell said. “Apotential partnership was discussed but we haven’t followed through on that.”
Connell said there was no miscommunication between the Coloradoanand its parent company about what Gannett was seeking with the Collegian.But Connell’s comments contradicted statements made by ColoradoanExecutive Editor Robert Moore and university officials that the Januarymeeting centered on talk of a “strategic partnership” with the Collegian
and not on buying the paper. Coloradoan Publisher Christine Chin was alsopresent at the meeting.
“Strategic partnership is the phrase that Dr. Penley and Christine havebeen using, and I think that’s probably just as good a phrase as any,” Mooretold the Collegian in a January interview.
A secretary for Coloradoan Publisher Christine Chin told the StudentPress Law Center this afternoon that Chin was not taking any more phone callsabout the Collegian.
The university formed an “advisory committee” in February, which includedstudent media representatives and faculty, to review the structure of theCollegian and any proposals made by Gannett or any other parties.
Gannett never submitted a formal proposal but had not told universityofficials it was no longer seeking a partnership, Connell said.
Members of the advisory committee brought up Connell’s comments andconcerns about the committee’s purpose in a meeting Thursday, the Collegianreported.
Aaron Hedge, Collegian news editor, said he was confused byConnell’s comments.
“I don’t know why, if they weren’t seeking anything … the universitywould’ve put together the Collegian Advisory Committee and kept it goingif Gannett wasn’t looking for a partnership or anything,” Hedge said.
Collegian staffers were outraged they were not allowed to attend theinitial meeting and garnered support from several college newspapers around thecountry for vowing to fight off a potential Gannett takeover.
Connell said many people incorrectly assumed that Gannett was still seekinga partnership with the Collegian.
“The amount of misprint and misunderstanding from the college newspapersaround the country is mind-boggling,” Connell said.
Connell’s comments came as good news for Collegian staffers.
“We’re not interested in a corporate partnership,” Hedge said. “We don’twant anything to do with Gannett.”
The January meeting between the university and Gannett came months after apublic fallout between university officials and Collegian Editor in ChiefDavid McSwane over a September editorial that read “Taser this…F*** Bush.”
Colorado State’s Board of Student Communications voted to “admonish”McSwane for running the piece but recognized it as protected speech. The board’sinterim president, Professor James Landers, resigned in December, citingtensions between him and the Collegian over the role of the board.