Two partisan newspapers at UNR are trying to win the hearts and minds of students
Two alternative student newspapers are conducting ideological warfare on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.
The Pack Patriot and Nevada Blue, both born in the spring of 2005, don’t pretend to be objective. They represent different parts of the political spectrum. Matt Beisner edits the Pack Patriot, conservative in tone and topic and recently expanded to a 12-page paper. The liberal Nevada Blue is edited by Brian Hutchinson, who is also Northern Nevada field director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. With Wal-Mart Watch and Donkey Slap, both papers aim to jump-start political activism on campus.
The two student editors take campus political activism and discussion quite seriously. Neither editor accepts school funding for the papers.
“The ultimate goal of the paper is to have it self-sustaining based on ads,” the Patriot’s Beisner explained. “But right now our main source of funding comes from donations, most notably through the Collegiate Network, a conservative coalition of newspapers at college campuses nationwide.”
Nevada Blue is funded through advertising, fundraising and grants, said Hutchinson. Both papers are printed once a month in the Sparks Tribune press shop, and neither publication has office space on campus.
The front page of the latest Pack Patriot is dominated by three statements written by Republican candidates for governor: Bob Beers, Jim Gibbons and Lorraine Hunt. There is no single story that dominates the Nevada Blue front page. Instead, stories about Democratic national chair Howard Dean, Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Jack Carter, and U.S. House candidate Jill Talbot Derby, are presented under the umbrella headline “The Democratic Agenda.”
The Sagebrush, the longstanding student newspaper, is funded by the student government. The Sagebrush welcomed the new newspapers when they appeared.
Because the new papers’ staffs operate on less money than the Sagebrush, the editors, publishers, writers and other volunteers help with distribution, though the Nevada Blue takes it a step farther and hosts a barbecue for each new edition.
Both the Pack Patriot and the Nevada Blue are the brain children of politically conscious UNR students. The conservative publication was launched by Greg Green and George Higgins, and Nevada Blue was a group effort.
The main goal of each publication, according to the editors, is to increase political awareness on campus and trigger debate. The Patriot emphasizes “the power of the individual and the necessity of personal responsibility,” said Beisner. Nevada Blue takes a more defensive approach, criticizing conservatives for “attacking college professors and universities for being liberal,” said Hutchinson.
Beisner and Hutchinson each claim to operate their papers without the bias of party affiliation, but try to remain true to the respective conservative and liberal ideology. However. the Patriot seems to be conservative first, Republican second, and Nevada Blue seems more of a party than a liberal publication.
The biggest advertisements in the latest issues seem to perfectly represent the papers’ biases—a military recruiting ad in the Patriot and a Planned Parenthood ad in Nevada Blue. The Patriot also had an ad for Fitch Aviation and Allegiant Air ran an ad in Nevada Blue.
Hutchinson says he doesn’t spend enough time selling advertisements to generate significant revenue.
Gregory Green, co-publisher of the Patriot, is also trying to run for student body president at UNR, but a student government official told him he wasn’t eligible because he has not completed 60 credits. (He actually claims to have more than a hundred credits, but only 42 are at UNR.) He has appealed to the student judicial council, but Sagebrush reports that the case may not be completed before the filing deadline.
The two editors were asked why they think students are not particularly involved in politics.
Hutchinson: “Many young people don’t know what they believe yet. We live in a society where you can turn on a TV and get 500-plus channels, or you can play a video game 10 hours straight without realizing it. I think that the percentage of students that vote is pretty substantial, all things considered.”
Beisner: “The ones who aren’t involved either don’t know and/or don’t care about how politics on the national, state, or even local level affect them, and most in my opinion would rather plod through their four years, get a degree and leave.”
Beisner says what he’d like to accomplish with the Patriot is “to change policy, specifically that of the student government. We’d like to hold them accountable in terms of the policies, fees and mandates that the current administration seems to enjoy disbursing.”
Hutchinson says he hopes Nevada Blue will help students “learn to be more patient and tolerant of different adeas, cultures, and lifestyles. You don’t just accept what the televisioin tells you.”
The two editors note a substantial student response to the presence of political papers. The Republicans seem to find some hostility toward the paper, but Beisner explained that “some despise us, and that’s good. As in any democracy, the right to disagree is a good thing.” Nevada Blue boasts that it encourages “critics to prove us wrong, and none have yet to do so.”