Curses, Foiled Again: College Paper Punished For Anti-Bush Expletive

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Colorado State University’s student newspaper has lost $30,000 in advertising and had to cut pay and other budgets by 10 percent because of fallout from the use of a four-letter word in an editorial about President Bush, the Coloradoan reported Saturday.

In large type, the editorial included the words “Taser this (expletive) Bush.” The editorial said it had the support of the Collegian’s editorial board.

“As local and national media will inevitably jump on this controversy, I strongly urge the university community to try and understand that the intentions of the students on staff, including me, were not to cause harm, but rather to reinforce the importance of free speech at our great institution,” Editor-in-Chief J. David McSwane said in a posting on the paper’s Web site Friday.

McSwane wrote. “My staff and I are extremely proud to be CSU students and members of this amazing community, and it is my sincere hope that our readers understand our intentions were not malicious.”

He told the Coloradoan he had no intention to quit, and that he had expected the editorial to draw a negative reaction.

The seven-member board’s vote to run the editorial was split, although he did not give the numbers.

“What we really were trying to do was make a statement people couldn’t ignore,” McSwane said. “I think quitting would be an insult to my staff, who supported what we had to say. We did something and we’re standing by it.”

He said the newspapers advisers and advertisers had no idea it planned to run the editorial and he regretted the pain it caused them.

The Collegian, a free publication funded entirely by advertising and published Monday through Friday printed comments, including negative ones on its Web site.

“Like many other comments here, I’m quite ashamed to see the official voice of my alma mater’s paper choosing to express itself like this,” wrote one commenter under the name Phil Mills. “Regardless of the Editors’ opinion of our President, I would have hoped that they could have come up with something more eloquent and reasoned to express that opinion than this… this… bumper sticker.”

Others backed the paper.

The administration said the readers will have the final say.

“While student journalists enjoy all the privileges and protections of the First Amendment, they must also accept full responsibility for the choices they make,” said CSU President Larry Penley in a prepared statement.

“Members of a university community ought to be expected to communicate civilly and rationally and to make thoughtful arguments in support of even unpopular viewpoints. I am disappointed that the Collegian’s recent editorial choices do not reflect the expectations we have of our student journalists nor the standards that are clearly articulated by student media policies. I also have every expectation that the readers of the Collegian will make their viewpoints known to the editor and the Board of Student Communications, which serves as the newspaper’s publisher, and that ultimately, the newspaper will answer to its readers.” he said.

The university, through its 10-member faculty-student Board of Student Communications could fire the editor. The university said no Collegian editor has ever been fired. The student editor of the campus yearbook was fired about a decade ago over missed deadlines.

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