Iowa State Settles With Ames Tribune p.48

By: Mark Fitzgerald Deal to settle long-running feud over distribution and competitive practices
calls for the university to re-examine role of campus paper relative to commercial Ames Trib

A truce with implications for student newspapers nationwide is coming in the Ames, Iowa, town/gown newspaper war.
Over the course of three years, the disputes between the Ames Tribune and Iowa State University and its Iowa State Daily student newspaper came to symbolize the growing tensions in college towns nationwide between community papers and their increasingly competitive campus counterparts.
Two of the Tribune's three owners, editor Michael Gartner and publisher Gary G. Gerlach, forcefully echoed the complaints of other town publishers: that their local campus paper had become a cut-throat competitor, run by professionals who targeted off-campus advertisers while enjoying the subsidies of university sponsorship. In 1996, the Tribune formally charged the Daily with violating Iowa laws preventing government entities from competing with private businesses. The Tribune also sued in federal court for the right to greater distribution on the ISU campus.
Now the whole issue of professionalism at the student newspaper has become part of settlement agreements reached June 15 that could end both legal fights.
As an apparently unique part of the settlement, an outside committee ? with members nominated by the Tribune and ISU ? will study whether, among other things, the Daily has become too professional.
It will, according to settlement papers, study "the educational mission of the student newspaper; the role of students, faculty and paid, non-student employees at the newspaper; the governance of the newspaper in a manner that ensures editorial independence; use of ISU funds and facilities; compliance with the letter and spirit of open government statutes; compliance with the letter and spirit of statutes and rules governing competition with private enterprise; and other matters affecting relationships among the university newspaper, the University, the journalism department and independent community publications."
The committee's recommendations will be nonbinding. Members will not come from the Tribune, editor Gartner said.
Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, said he had never heard of a similar study group.
"Of course, this case is unique from start to finish," Goodman said. "I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with it. I guess the question is, 'What are the expectations about what they should find on professionalism?' Because the contention I've made from the start is the Iowa State Daily is no different from hundreds of student papers out there in terms of the involvement of professionals."
Reaction from the Daily was low-key. "I think it's fine if they choose to do that," said general manager Annette Forbes, a paid professional. "We continue to increase the standards of the Daily, and we think a committee will find that to be the case ? that students find the Daily a great way to extend their university learning."
Ryan Kay, chairman of the Iowa State Publications Board, could not be reached. Messages left for his predecessor, John Hobson, and the Daily's current editor in chief, Stacy Hupp, were not returned before deadline.
Iowa State University settled the lawsuit over campus distribution rights by granting Partnership Press, publisher of the Tribune and the Campus Reader alternative paper, 39 campus distribution sites, about triple the number allowed during the past academic year.
The university also agreed to reimburse Partnership Press between $68,000 and $109,000 in legal fees, to be determined by a magistrate.
"Actually our legal bill was a little over $160,000 to preserve a right you should have had as a matter of course, or which the state should have fought to preserve," Tribune editor Gartner said.
While Partnership Press papers have more distribution sites, he said, "They seemed to have been picked by whim. . . . We're not allowed at the library or the journalism building. (University administrators) view newspapers as trash. We believe they are vehicles of information."

?("We're not allowed at the library or the journalism building. (University administrators) view newspapers as trash. We believe they are vehicles of information.") [Caption]
?(? Michael Gartner, editor, part owner, Ames Tribune) [Caption & Photo]
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher June 20, 1998) [Caption]


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