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Hundreds Of Newspapers Mysteriously Disappear In A Few Short Hours

March 11, 2013 by admin

 

By Joe Malanaphy
 
 At a Governance forum on Tuesday, Feb. 26, an issue was raised concerning the Feb. 21 edition of The Stall in which a police sketch of an African-American male was featured on the front page with a ‘Wanted’ headline. Also included at the very top of the page was a banner for Black History Month 2013, flanked by photos of Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell.
     Some found the paper offensive; others said it was insensitive. Within three hours of this discussion, nearly all of the remaining newspapers, including the displays, disappeared from their boxes located in various buildings around campus. Hundreds of newspapers, which had been on campus for five days and were readilyavailable prior to the forum, were missing and could not be located.
   The Stall contacted campus police and asked that an investigation be conducted. Meanwhile, no one has taken responsibility for the newspapers’ disappearance.
   “No one from the administration ordered any removal of any papers,” wrote BCC President Maureen Murphy in an e-mail. “I was at the Forum when this issue was discussed. I spoke against removal of any newspapers, and we all agreed that papers would remain.”
    At The Stall’s Tuesday meeting about 25 people, including students, faculty and staff gathered to discuss the Feb. 21 issue. While the meeting focused on the sensitivity concerns, several people other than The Stall staff expressed concern about the missing newspapers. 
  "I am for the freedom of the press, and if we hide it, it won’t change anything. We should use this as a teaching moment, and whoever removed the papers corrupted that moment,” said Charanne Smith, director of the Higher Education Center in Neptune. Smith was the first person to call The Stall’s Feb. 21 issue into question.
   Asked whether the maintenance crew had been instructed to remove any newspapers from campus, Kathy McGrath, director of facilities, indicated that she had not been contacted by anyone to remove the papers and said “that request did not come from this office.” While what happened to the Feb. 21 Stall issues remains a mystery, the theft of newspapers at college campuses is unfortunately not a bizarre or unusual occurrence according to the Student Press Law Center. 
   “Newspaper theft is a crime. It is also a terribly effective form of censorship,” states the website SPLC.org. “Each year dozens of student newspapers and other publications across the country fall victim to thieves whose intent is to prevent the dissemination of news, information and opinion with which they disagree.”
   The website also states “while most college newspapers are distributed without charge (most student media have determined it would actually cost more to collect money at the point of distribution than it is worth), they are certainly not ‘free.’ Publishing a student newspaper is an expensive undertaking; student media lose thousands of dollars each year as a result of newspaper theft.” Finally, SPLC states that “newspaper theft presents a 
serious threat to the viability of the student press community; letting the thieves get away with it threatens the viability of a free press itself.”
 The Stall is urging anyone with information or tips about the disappearance of the Feb. 21 issue to contact the Stall at 732-224-2266 or email stallsubmissions@gmail.com
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