Nearly all distributed copies of the March 16 issue of the Brown Daily Herald were removed by a coalition of student groups Friday, apparently as a response to a controversial advertisement the paper ran last week.
On March 13 the newspaper ran conservative pundit David Horowitz’s full-page advertisement, “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea and Racist Too,” which lists 10 reasons why Horowitz opposes making monetary reparations for slavery. Leaders of a coalition of campus groups who were upset with the Herald’s decision to print the advertisement met with the newspaper’s editors on March 15 to seek recourse.
“We have the right to deny ad requests and edit content,” said Katherine Boas, co-editor in chief of the Herald. “This was a guy expressing his opinion. He paid for the space, and we didn’t see any reason not to run his ad.”
Coalition members left copies of a statement in place of the newspapers, the newspaper reported.
“We are using this action as an opportunity to show our community at Brown that our newspaper is not accountable to its supposed constituents,” the flier read.
Horowitz’s Web site says that nine of the 47 college student newspapers that received the advertisement printed it, and 18 newspapers rejected it.
The Herald was the first Ivy League student newspaper to run Horowitz’s ad. The Columbia Daily Spectator and Harvard Crimson rejected the ad.
The Herald staff knew running the ad could result in trouble.
“We knew it was coming, and we had heard about controversy at some other schools,” Boas said.
On the night of March 14, students upset with the advertisement arrived at the Herald’s office. The students demanded that the Herald donate the $725 cost of the ad to the Third World Community at Brown and provide the coalition with a complimentary full page to respond to Horowitz.
Six Herald editors met with about 60 students the following night, Boas said.
“They said that if we did not meet their demands, then our papers would not be read,” Boas said. “When we asked them what that meant, they said that it means ‘whatever you want it to mean.'”
Virtually every one of the 4,000 copies of the paper distributed at noon on Friday were gone by 12:30 p.m., Boas said.
“We took that as a threat,” Boas said. “It seems reasonable to assume that those were the ones who took it.”
The Herald printed an additional 1,000 copies Friday night and hand-distributed them at the university’s main dining hall Saturday.
Brown University released a statement on Saturday in support of the newspaper, in which it said “consistent with its commitment to the free exchange of ideas, the University recognizes and supports The Herald’s right to publish any material it chooses, even if that material is objectionable to members of the campus community.”
The Herald is pursuing appropriate legal action and has been in contact with lawyers all weekend, Boas said.
Yesterday, Shaun Joseph, representing the student coalition protesting the Horowitz ad, appeared on NBC’s Today Show. Co-editor-in-chief Brooks King represented the Herald.
On the show, Joseph reportedly denied involvement in the newspaper theft. He could not be reached for comment Sunday night.
Today, the Herald intends to print its standard run of 4,000 copies while reducing distribution to four main points: two dining halls, the student center and the newspaper’s office. Staff members will distribute papers all day at the main dining hall.
The Herald had similar theft problems at distribution centers in December 1999 when the newspaper printed a story about an e-mail that had been circulating among the black community at Brown, Boas said. Because it was the last issue of the semester, legal action was not necessary.
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