Students lined the lobby outside of President Larry Penley’s office Tuesday in protest of a private meeting between the Fort Collins Coloradoan, student government and university officials, including Penley, to discuss possible joint ownership of the Collegian.
Mike Hiestand, a lawyer with the Student Press Law Center told the Collegian that a deal that would place the Collegian under the authority of a private publisher like Gannett Company, Inc. — who owns the Coloradoan — is of questionable legality, depending on the reasons behind the discussion.
“This is not happening in a vacuum,” Hiestand said. “This is happening after a very public, pretty nasty fight” between university entities and Collegian Editor in Chief J. David McSwane.
He was referring to a September editorial the newspaper printed that said “Taser This . F*** BUSH” that earned the paper and the university instant national infamy.
Hiestand said the reason could be to control editorial content through a private publisher — an ability the Collegian’s current publisher doesn’t have because of their affiliation with the state.
No Student Media professional staff were invited to the meeting and Collegian reporters were not allowed to enter the President’s room after it started.
McSwane stood outside the door of the office and asked Penley if he could attend the meeting. Penley ignored him as he walked by and the receptionist denied Mcswane’s request.
After the meeting, Coloradaon Editor in Chief Bob Moore and Publisher Christine Chin told the Collegian that they had called the president late last semester and suggested a cooperative relationship with the Collegian.
Moore said there was no talk of how the newspaper would be governed or about negotiating price during the meeting.
News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.