Student Journos Cry Foul Over Paper Seizure At Clinton Speech

By: Mark Fitzgerald The editor-in-chief of the Ohio State University student paper The Lantern is demanding an apology from school officials for what they say was the seizure of more than 5,000 copies of the paper just before former President Bill Clinton spoke at commencement ceremonies.

"I want an apology from the university that we can put on page one," Editor In Chief Gerrick Lewis said. "I need a written apology that I can put in my paper."

According to Lewis and others at the Lantern, bundles of the newspaper, with a special tab for the graduation ceremony, were delivered to the university's stadium several hours before the commencement was to get underway. When students who were paid to distribute the newspapers arrived just before the ceremony, the bundles had disappeared.

"According to the university, Clinton security was told to remove the copies of the newspaper for security purposes," Lewis said. "Basically, at the Lantern, we're not accepting this answer because this has happened before."

Lewis said a special issue to be distributed at a homecoming game also was removed from the stadium this year.

"We just thought it was a strange coincidence that all these (issues) were taken except for a few," he added. "They said they looked suspicious -- I don't know how a bundle of newspapers can look suspicious."

The Lantern believes the issues were taken away because of two columns, by departing Editor In Chief Ryan Merrill and Sports Editor Scott Woods, that harshly criticized the journalism program at Ohio State. "It's not top-notch program," Lewis said. "I mean that's not a secret to anyone. It just is mediocre."

University spokesperson Amy Murray said Friday that the school had not ordered the papers seized -- and cannot even verify the episode happened.

"We had never heard that any of this occurred," she said, until school officials read an account in the Lantern. "Afterwards, we want to see if any stadium officials, anybody with physical facilities, or anybody dealing with the Secret Service knew about this. We haven't been able to verify that this happened."

But Lewis said the seizure came after a contentious year between the Lantern, the journalism school, and the university. A sex column called "The Naked Truth According to Dirk and Penelope" stirred up particular rancor, he said, drawing complaints at one point from the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Lewis said the seizure may have cost the newspaper as much as $15,000 to $16,000 in lost revenue.


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