Newspaper theft, whether committed in order to censor stories, photos or advertisements deemed unfavorable to an individual or group or perpetrated as a prank, robs the public of information to which they have a right to know. It’s an act of censorship, plain and simple.
According to the Student Press Law Center, there have been 27 newspaper thefts on American college campuses this year – the highest recorded number since 2002. Below are some examples of incidents in 2012, as documented on the SPLC’s website.
• February 2, Eastern Washington University: up to 533 copies of The Easterner were stolen after publishing a feature on a drug bust involving members of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Nobody was charged.
• February 24, Georgia College and State University: 460 copies of The Colonnade were stolen in order to protect a student who was the subject of a drug crime story. The students were caught and reimbursed the newspaper.
• April 13, University of Vermont: 200 copies of The Vermont Cynic were stolen after publishing stories on campus crime. Nobody was charged.
• April 18, San Antonio College: 250 copies of The Ranger were stolen for unknown reasons. An article had recently been published online which discussed the death of a professor, inciting controversy among students and faculty.
• April 27, Bridgewater State University: 300 copies of The Comment were stolen. The paper had published an article naming a rape victim who spoke at a public sexual assault prevention event and another that criticized tuition hikes. Nobody was charged.
• September 24, Western Illinois University: 1500 copies of The Western Courier were stolen after publishing an article about a crime on campus. The paper is free but editors were able to convince police to investigate. Nobody was charged.
• November 29, University of Dayton: 550 copies of Flyer News were stolen which contained a few potentially controversial stories, including a front page article about Sigma Chi’s interim suspension and a letter to the editor encouraging administrators to support the renewable energy movement on campus. At the time of writing, Public Safety is still investigating the incident as a case of criminal mischief.