LOUISIANA — The students who stole approximately 2,000 copies of the student newspaper at Tulane University have admitted to their actions and agreed to pay the cost of the papers.
The newspapers, stolen Thursday, featured a front-page story about a fraternity house drug bust. Tulane Hullabaloo Editor-in-Chief Ryan Jones said he believes censoring that story was the motivation behind the theft, but the situation didn’t work out as the thieves hoped.
Tulane University Police Department Lieutenant Jeff Blue said it was his understanding that the two suspects in the case were Kappa Sigma pledges. The Hullabaloo’s front-page story reported that a drug bust recently took place at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house.
The Hullabaloo staff shared the online story using social media, and by Monday it had become one of the staff’s “top three most-viewed stories this year,” Jones said.
“Obviously it more than compensated for the loss of the papers,” Jones said. “I think it’s funny that by attempting to censor this story, these two guys actually brought more attention to the story … than it might have ever received otherwise.”
The staff’s quick reaction to the theft helped lead to a quick investigation by the Tulane University Police Department, Jones said. Distribution Manager James Arney was the first to alert staff members, and soon the whole staff knew of the theft. Staff writer Sam Fishman saw the theft in action and got a close-up cell phone picture of the thieves, Jones said.
“It’s beautiful,” Jones said. “It’s some of the best photojournalism we’ve done all year. It’s so perfect that it looks like it’s posed.”
Jones said he was grateful for the TUPD’s diligence in the investigation.
“We just could not be happier with how seriously they took it and how willing they were to work with us and make sure we received restitution for this theft,” Jones said.
Blue confirmed the police investigation was complete Monday.
Jones said Tulane Student Affairs would handle the payment for the papers. The two students who stole the papers are being charged $1,896. That equates to $1 per copy estimated to have been stolen. Students are allowed two free copies, but must pay $1 for extras, Jones said.
This is the first student newspaper theft reported to the Student Press Law Center in 2013. In 2012, 27 thefts were reported.
By Sara Tirrito, SPLC staff writer. Contact Tirrito by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 124.