In the past few days it has come to the attention of the Lariat staff that papers have been completely cleared out of several of the newsstands around campus. While normally a great sign for a student newspaper, there have been reports that these papers have been used for use in floats and set design. Last Friday, only 101 papers remained on stands, from the 2000 papers that were delivered that morning. Out of 33 newsstands, 24 had no papers by the end of the day.
The papers of the Lariat are for reading by Baylor students, faculty and visitors. The Lariat functions as an important source of information regarding campus life for all who read it. It reports independently of the Baylor administration, and it’s important that all who wish to read it can find it easily and freely, without being impeded. The first copy of the Lariat is free, but any additional copies are 25 cents.
The Student Press Law Center states on their website that newspaper theft is a crime. While many papers may seem to be free, publishing a student newspaper is expensive in labor and capital. They also mention that student media loses thousands of dollars each year as a result of newspaper theft.
The Lariat reports on matters of pressing importance for students, such as sexual assaults and safety concerns, as well as more everyday subjects, like on-campus events and features of the activities of Baylor students and faculty.
Issues have arisen before, as some may remember from last year’s removal of papers from several newsstands by Baylor tour guides. The university confirmed the reports of paper removals.
Jason Cook, Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications, said in a statement that “an admissions staff member asked a few campus tour staff to move papers in the Penland Crossroads lobby and Foster,” which led to papers being either thrown away or displaced from the stands. The papers removed ran a story with the headline “Fifth alleged rape reported.”
The Lariat will always exist as a source of news for the Baylor community. It will continue to report the news of campus, regardless if the information shines negatively on the university. As a training-ground for modern journalists, the Lariat’s goal is not to attack or treat any group or individual unfairly, but to objectively report happenings on Baylor’s campus.
To remove that accessibility from the Baylor community is disrespectful of the work of the students who put hundreds of hours into the production of the paper on a daily basis.
Not only is the removal of papers insulting to the labor of those who put in time and effort to make the Lariat publish twice a week, it also affects the Lariat’s relationship with advertisers. If businesses and other organizations that pay for ad placements in our papers don’t receive the audience they believe they’ve paid for, they can pull out their support, leaving the Lariat in a hard situation financially.
Regardless of the intention of those who take stacks off of Lariat newsstands, the act disrupts the flow of information from the Lariat to the Baylor community, and should not occur in any capacity, official or otherwise. Readers of the Lariat should always be able to find a copy of the latest paper in an easily accessible location and should feel secure in the fact that the paper will report the news and discover the truth, regardless of external factors.