College of Communication relents, welcomes back Texan news box to Belo

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After initially prohibiting news boxes at the Belo Center for New Media, the College of Communication announced it has recognized the demand for The Daily Texan and will place a box on-site sometime in the future.

Roderick Hart, College of Communication dean, said in an e-mail that the college has asked its architect to design a Daily Texan newspaper box for the center and choose where on the site the boxes should go. Hart could not provide a timeline or a sense of when a news box would be added.

The Daily Texan printed an article about the college’s stance on news boxes Thursday, after which there was a strong online response. Thursday morning, a blog about the issue was posted on media institute Poynter’s Web site. Posts on CollegeMediaMatters.com and JimRomenesko.com followed later in the day.

“I know the dean heard from dozens of former Daily Texan editors [Thursday],” Mark Morrison, adjunct lecturer and a board member for Texas Student Media, said. “They’ve all been in touch with his office and communicating their concern.”

Last week, the College of Communication said it would not place any news boxes in front of the Belo Center for New Media, which houses the School of Journalism. Assistant Dean Janice Daman said the news boxes might attract litter, and interfere with the college’s plans to achieve a silver certification. The certification is a rating that classifies a building’s environmental performance and is issued by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. In response, Glenn Frankel, director of the School of Journalism, said it was a mistake that the building that houses the School of Journalism did not have the campus’ student newspaper available for immediate access.

Hart said he was not sure if the College of Communication would add news boxes or news stands for publications other than The Daily Texan.

“We have to maintain pedestrian traffic flow above all else,” Hart said.

Jalah Goette, interim director of Texas Student Media, the agency in charge of all of UT’s student-produced media, said it is prepared to add another Texan distribution point. She also said she hopes the College of Communication will work with Texas Student Media on the design of the box and that it would include the masthead that is on every other Texan news box. Goette said it is important the box be identifiable as a Texan box.

On Thursday afternoon, Hart sent an e-mail to The Daily Texan, saying the College of Communication would install a news box.

The College of Communication tweeted, “there was some confusion about why copies of The Daily Texan weren’t available.” Both the tweet and Hart said the college never intended to ban the news boxes.

But Daman said in an e-mail to journalism professor Wanda Cash the policy was decided previously.

“The Belo project team decided long ago that there would be no news boxes – Daily Texan, Apartment Locators, the Onion – on the Belo plaza or sidewalks,” said Daman in her Aug. 30 e-mail.

“The Dean knows this, too.”

Morrison said he is glad to see the college decide to put a news box on-site.

“It should not have come to this, but better late than never,” Morrison said.

Frankel said he is also pleased with the decision.

“I thought it was a mistake to not give students and faculty access to The Daily Texan and newspapers here in the Belo Center,” Frankel said. “To me, it was not important whether those boxes were inside the lobby or outside, just that there is access for our students.”

Morrison said he hopes more news boxes are added besides the Texan, like other newspapers around the state and campus publications.

While UT-Austin does not have an official rule or policy on news boxes, the University requires they not interfere with on-campus traffic.