Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Student Paper and Local Daily Square off in Ames, Iowa; Iowa State Daily and Ames Daily Tribune Both Publishing Free Weekly Papers That Target the University's Faculty and Staff

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Student Paper and Local Daily Square off in Ames, Iowa; Iowa State Daily and Ames Daily Tribune Both Publishing Free Weekly Papers That Target the University's Faculty and Staff

Article excerpt

FOR DECADES IN Ames, Iowa, the local paper, the Daily Tribune, and Iowa State University's student newspaper, the Iowa State Daily, lived in peaceful coexistence.

Now, however, things are definitely heating up.

Both the local paper and the student paper are publishing free weekly papers that target the university's faculty and staff.

And the local paper has hauled the student paper's board into court -- accusing the student-run board of illegally preventing access to information it says is public record under the Iowa Open Records Act.

At one point, the two newspapers even fought a brief trademark battle as both claimed the rights to the same name for their new targeted papers.

The student paper surrendered in that battle, but its general manager says it will fight the Daily Tribune's attempt to get access to its marketing plans and other strategic information.

This budding town/gown newspaper war pits the 9,200-circulation evening Daily Tribune against five-day-a-week morning Iowa State Daily, whose 17,000-copy distribution is largely paid for by a subscription program with the university's student government.

The student paper says the local paper is trying to put it out of business. The publication board's attorney says the Daily Tribune's lawsuit is part of the effort.

"To me, it's all about competition and very little about journalism," said attorney Jeff Stein. "This could very easily lead to hundreds of students losing an opportunity to learn journalism .. [because] I really think this [lawsuit] is part of a broader plan to force us into competitive disadvantage -- or force us out of business."

What apparently set all this off was the Iowa State Daily Publication Board's decision -- made behind closed doors this summer -- to launch a weekly paper targeting the 5,700 faculty and staff at the university.

Although the plan was approved in secret on Aug. 30, it became public in October when minutes of the meeting were released. An Oct. 4 story by Thomas R. O'Donnell, a reporter in the Des Moines Register's Ames bureau, quoted the minutes as saying the "main issue was the competitive concern about the Daily Tribune making made by a black man, a Hispanic and two whites. It should have run. My attitude was I'll take the heat.

"The week before the verdict, the Daily Trojan ran an editorial column suggesting someone put up an electrical fence around California to keep the immigrants out. It was supposed to be a satire. Well, I didn't think that was funny."

That column created a campus furor and lead to a black economic boycott of the paper.

"We don't buy advertising in the Daily Trojan," said Deidre Gant, head of the Black Student's Union. "The column on immigration was another example of how they treat people of color."

Greg Keraghosian, an assistant sports editor, said he was so incensed by the Daily Trojan's coverage of the verdict that he called the other newspaper members of the PAC-10 to get their reaction.

"They told me we should be embarassed at the way we behaved," Keraghosian said. "I mean everyone covered it. Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State. And we didn't, even though he was our most famous alumnus

"I can't believe the news section didn't want to be part of it. I mean, people told me that would have kept our paper as a memorial. They would have put it on the wall.

"I am ashamed to put this paper on my resume."

The L.A. Times did it

The Daily Trojan news staff, however, felt they took the journalistic high road by publishing a news brief on the verdict even as the Los Angeles Times was publishing a post extra verdict.

"I felt it was a matter of pride that we didn't stoop to that level of coverage," said Biggs. "The Los Angeles Times is widely read around here. Our job was to provide our readers with campus news.

Biggs said the Daily Trojan gave extensive front-page coverage to the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict, and the campus police precautions that followed. …

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