Gannett Gives Up On CSU's Student Newspaper

In the January 31 Message, J. David McSwane (pictured), the muckraking editor of Colorado State University's Rocky Mountain Collegian newspaper, set off alarms over the possibility of Gannett purchasing the publication. In his view, CSU's decision to hold an unannounced meeting with representatives of the corporation, which owns the nearby Fort Collins Coloradoan and many other dailies nationwide, suggested that university reps wanted to undermine the student-run character of the Collegian, which stirred controversy in 2007 after it printed an attention-getting two-word editorial: "FUCK BUSH." (See this October 4 column for the low-down.)

Now, as reported by Editor & Publisher, a journalism-industry trade publication, such a prospect is off the table -- and a larger piece in the Collegian implies that the possibility of an agreement died early on.

CSU president Larry Penley emphasized from the start that he was entertaining the prospect of a "strategic partnership" with Gannett, as opposed to an outright sale. This verbiage seemed like wordplay spin, but apparently Gannett types took it seriously. Here's the key passage from "Gannett: CSU Turned Down Sale of Collegian, Partnership Dismissed," penned by Erik Meyers:

In an announcement she says the company had been "saying all along," Gannett spokesperson Tara Connell said the company was told in a closed door meeting with Penley, Jan. 22, that the paper was not for sale and that the company was never interested in any partnership with the Collegian -- short of acquisition.

"We said we'd like to perhaps buy the college newspaper," Connell said. "CSU (officials) said 'The CSU paper is not for sale,' and from our point-of-view, that was the end of the conversation."

That's good news for Collegian staffers, as well as believers in independent college journalism in general. But that doesn't mean something along these lines can never happen again. Indeed, Gannett reps have made it clear that they remain on the lookout for campus newspapers they can acquire. In response to such a prospect, McSwane and his editorialists might well declare: FUCK THAT. -- Michael Roberts