23,000 student newspapers stolen

CALIFORNIA — The November elections may have caused rejoicing for some, and disappointment for others. But at The Daily Californian, the student newspaper of the University of California at Berkeley, staff members were frustrated after several individuals were seen taking copies of the November 5 issue of the paper.

For the staff the fact that papers were taken was upsetting enough. But in this case, the numbers speak for themselves.

According to the newspaper’s editor, Mike Coleman, the thieves made off with almost the entire press run of 24,000 copies. Coleman said the motivation behind the theft was “absolutely political,” referring to the paper’s endorsement of California Proposition 209.

The ballot issue, which voters approved, would eliminate race and gender based preferences in hiring, education and contracting practices by government agencies across the state.

For the Nov. 4 and 5 issues of the Daily Californian, the paper’s editorial board decided to run the endorsement as an editorial. According to Coleman, the 11 member board’s decision came after “heated” talks and a vote of 6 to 5 in support of the editorial. On Monday, Nov. 4, about 4,000 copies of the paper were removed soon after they were distributed, Coleman said. On Tuesday morning, Coleman said a number of “loiterers” were seen waiting for the newspapers to be distributed. Witnesses saw the individuals take the papers from news racks and leave, the editor said.

The university police have been investigating the incident but have no suspects, said Captain Bill Cooper. He said they have not decided whether they consider the action a theft, but that there could be grounds for a civil lawsuit if those responsible are found.

The newspaper’s managing editor, Erin Allbay, said she wants those responsible to come forward and acknowledge what they did. She said she would ideally like to have the paper get back the money it lost, but doubts if that will happen. Coleman said costs for advertising, printing and distributing the newspaper were about $15,000.

The administrator who handles student disciplinary proceedings said no one has been identified as responsible for the theft, and that no administrative investigation will be conducted unless a complaint against another student is filed.

Coleman said if those responsible are found, he “absolutely” plans to file a lawsuit.

newspaper theft, reports, Winter 1996-97