Gannett will not seek partnership with student paper at Colo. State

COLORADO -- A Gannett spokeswoman said last week the media company wanted to buy Colorado State University's student paper but stopped communicating with the university after officials told the company in a Jan. 22 meeting that the paper was not for sale.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian reported Gannett's statements in an article published Friday.

Colorado State officials and representatives from the Gannett-owned newspaper the Coloradoan previously had said the closed meeting was to discuss a strategic partnership between the paper and the Collegian.

Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell told the Student Press Law Center Friday that although a partnership was discussed, the company was only seeking to buy the student paper and has not actively pursued any type of partnership.

"No one at Gannett is continuing conversation with them," Connell said. "A potential partnership was discussed but we haven't followed through on that."

Connell said there was no miscommunication between the Coloradoan and its parent company about what Gannett was seeking with the Collegian. But Connell's comments contradicted statements made by Coloradoan Executive Editor Robert Moore and university officials that the January meeting centered on talk of a "strategic partnership" with the Collegian

and not on buying the paper. Coloradoan Publisher Christine Chin was also present at the meeting.

"Strategic partnership is the phrase that Dr. Penley and Christine have been using, and I think that's probably just as good a phrase as any," Moore told the Collegian in a January interview.

A secretary for Coloradoan Publisher Christine Chin told the Student Press Law Center this afternoon that Chin was not taking any more phone calls about the Collegian.

The university formed an "advisory committee" in February, which included student media representatives and faculty, to review the structure of the Collegian and any proposals made by Gannett or any other parties.

Gannett never submitted a formal proposal but had not told university officials it was no longer seeking a partnership, Connell said.

Members of the advisory committee brought up Connell's comments and concerns about the committee's purpose in a meeting Thursday, the Collegian reported.

Aaron Hedge, Collegian news editor, said he was confused by Connell's comments.

"I don't know why, if they weren't seeking anything ... the university would've put together the Collegian Advisory Committee and kept it going if Gannett wasn't looking for a partnership or anything," Hedge said.

Collegian staffers were outraged they were not allowed to attend the initial meeting and garnered support from several college newspapers around the country for vowing to fight off a potential Gannett takeover.

Connell said many people incorrectly assumed that Gannett was still seeking a partnership with the Collegian.

"The amount of misprint and misunderstanding from the college newspapers around 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't want anything to do with Gannett."

The January meeting between the university and Gannett came months after a public fallout between university officials and Collegian Editor in Chief David 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's interim president, Professor James Landers, resigned in December, citing tensions between him and the Collegian over the role of the board.

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