Gannett buys FSU paper
August 7, 2006
Will students work for free? Or will it become USA Today lite?
August 7, 2006
A College Paper Joins Gannett
By MARIA ASPAN
College journalists have always had to grapple with a variety of concerns, from soothing the ruffled feathers of administrators to keeping beer out of the newsroom. Now seems to be the time to add a new one: dealing with corporate owners.
Last week The Tallahassee Democrat, a daily paper owned by Gannett, announced that it had purchased The FSView & Florida Flambeau, the student newspaper of Florida State University, which is also in Tallahassee. Media industry analysts said that it seemed to be the first time that a college paper had been bought by a major chain, but that it might not be the last.
Patrick Dorsey, publisher of The Democrat, said that little would change for the student paper except that the paid staff of about 18, as well as contributing writers, would benefit from more professional training and career opportunities. In return, The Democrat gets a “well-run operation with a very desirable audience” of younger readers, he said, adding that his paper “would like to reach that community more frequently.”
The FSView — which can now call itself a sister publication to USA Today, among others — appears twice a week during the academic year and once a week in the summer, when its circulation drops to 18,000 from 25,000. Its independence from Florida State University is rare among student publications, which usually rely on their institutions for financing.
Robert Parker, the former publisher and owner of The FSView, said that his decision to sell the paper was influenced by the uncertain times for print media. “The paper will always be here,” he said, “but this will ensure its long-term growth and success.” He declined to disclose the price of the deal.
Colby Atwood, a media industry consultant, said that the transaction could have ripple effects. “Most college papers are really not for sale,” he said. But “if corporate sponsorship takes hold in the college newspaper arena, a lot of colleges might be interested in taking a look, for the mentorship opportunities and financial support.”