Editorial 11/6

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, several individuals removed hundreds of copies of The Signal from our stand outside the University Bookstore. As of press time, one of the individuals, Riley Gillison, came forward to say he had indeed taken the papers for a Halloween costume and decorations for his home, but does not have the photos to prove it (refer to the top story on page 3 for the details).

But until the ongoing investigation conducted by the Dean of Students office and GSUPD is concluded, we are not going to take his confession at face value.

The Signal has dealt with this kind of situation before; we are not unfamiliar with having our papers taken en masse. Because of our experience in the past, we had to take precautions to protect our newspaper from being taken for someone’s giant papier-mâché project.

If you look in the bottom right corner of this page, you will see that only the first copy is for free, and the rest after that can be bought from our office for $1 each.

Some students have argued “but we pay for the paper with our student fees so we can take as many as we want.” Unfortunately for them, that isn’t true. Each student only pays a little over two dollars a semester for printing costs (last week’s edition cost $1,754–about six cents per student), and that amount hardly entitles anyone to taking hundreds of dollars worth of newspapers.

The printing cost is only a small portion of each edition. Advertisers pay for space in print, which requires us to get the paper into students’ hands. If the paper doesn’t get distributed, then they could revoke payment. Last week’s issue brought in $2,043 in ad revenue.

Ad revenue is what pays the staff, who work their butts off to produce the work that is printed. Broken down, we have about 15 stipended students on staff, each making an average of $80 each issue (we print 32 editions per school year). We pay out an average of $150 to our staff reporters and photographers per week (specifically, they earned about $167 last week). Adding it all up, last week’s issue labor cost was about $1,367.

Also keep in mind that these are very low wages when compared to endless hours the staff works each week to produce the best possible content for our community. It is safe to say that the entire staff puts in a combined 300 hours each week to the paper.

So by taking gross amounts of newspapers, one is not simply “taking what they pay for.” They are literally robbing the staff of their cold hard cash, regardless of how little that pay can be.

And they are also violating the First Amendment. Stealing papers is depriving information from students and obstructing the freedom of speech and the press.

So it is not extreme to say that newspaper theft is not only robbery, but also a violation of our Constitutional rights.

Yes, it is that serious. Ask a lawyer. In fact, ask Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, who is also an expert on First Amendment law and Georgia State alum. Here is his number: (703) 807-1904 ext. 121, or you can visit www.splc.org.

If it turns out that the individuals who took the papers last Tuesday weren’t taking it upon them selves to distribute our papers to the students, and instead were disposing of the papers in bulk, The Signal will be working with the university to pursue criminal charges against those individuals.

The Signal takes the disposal of our papers seriously. Many of us who work here also take a full load of classes and work two, sometimes three, jobs. The work we do for the paper is a labor of love. So if you disagree with our content, we urge you to send us a letter to the editor to begin a dialogue within our community.



While we’re the subject of last week’s issue…


Beating out dozens of other papers from around the country, The Signal was recognized by the Associated Collegiate Press Nov. 4 as the best student newspaper in its division at the 2012 National College Media Conference in Chicago.

Competing in the ACP’s largest division, four-year weekly tabloid, the independent student paper at Georgia State University was evaluated on its most recent issue covering the election and was graded for its design, photography, writing and overall presentation by top college media advisors.

The paper also took home the 9th place award for the Best in Show — Special Edition for its Sept. 25 pullout edition highlighting its 2012 Modern Media Conference, the largest college media conference in the Southeast featuring more than 25 top national and regional media personalities.