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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Gannett Media is a heavyweight in the newspaper industry, with papers under its ownership as far-flung as Guam’s Pacific Daily News and the Old Pueblo’s Tucson Citizen. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that, in looking to expand its territory and offerings, the corporation recently acquired a student newspaper: Florida State University’s FSView.

    Though this acquisition passed largely unnoticed by most media outlets – the purchase of a small paper by a big one ceased to be newsworthy long ago – it has sent shockwaves throughout the student media community. Some editorialists wondered if the purchase would limit the student paper’s ability to publish “”edgier”” pieces that a corporately held paper would balk at.

    Whether or not the new owners will actually keep their commitment to hands-off management remains to be seen.

    Others bemoaned the gobbling-up of yet another small operator by a big power. But is all the concern anything more than a knee-jerk reaction against corporate America?

    The owners of the Tallahassee Democrat, the Gannett-owned Florida paper that bought FSView, insist that even the students who work at the paper will notice no change in daily operations. Whether or not the new owners will actually keep their commitment to hands-off management remains to be seen.

    However, the ownership of student media by a corporate power does come with a few benefits. For example, it is likely that Gannett’s ownership will mean additional legal assistance for FSView – perhaps allowing the paper to provide its readers with greater access to controversial information.

    But in order to preserve the independence that student publications hold so dear, it is important that Gannett honor its promise to maintain significant distance from FSView’s editorial functions. More importantly, however, students who read the newspaper should be aware of the forces that bring them their news. In time, it is likely that a new, independent newspaper at Florida State will arise to compete with FSView; students ought to choose their campus news source accordingly.

    We live in a free-market system: for better or worse, corporations can legitimately purchase newspapers. What remains to be determined is our response. Yes, it’s easy to feel frustrated at the pervasiveness of corporate control. But the jury’s still out on the overall impact that Gannett’s ownership of FSView will have on the independence of student journalism.

    No matter who owns a newspaper – from Gannett to Arizona Student Media – it is the readers’ role, right and duty to be conscious of the news source when they read the paper.

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