Two University of Wisconsin System school newspapers are under fire for rejecting an advertisement offer from Pro-Life Wisconsin on the basis of avoiding controversy.
Both the Advance-Titan of UW-Oshkosh and The Pointer of UW-Stevens Point decided not to run a 12-page insert created by the Human Life Alliance because both papers believed the insert would cause an unnecessary controversy while not providing a direct service.
“(The decision) actually had nothing to do with the content that was in there; I sat down with my advisor and advertising manager and we discussed it,” said Andrew Munger, editor in chief of the Advance-Titan. “They don’t provide a service of any sort, just an ideology.”
According to Munger, to call this decision censorship is ludicrous since the newspaper makes public their right to print and advertise as they see fit.
The Pointer also chose not to run the advertisement. Editor in Chief Jacob Mathias likewise said they did not run the advertisement because the content did not provide a service, yet the decision was also made to avoid controversy, he added.
Peggy Hamill, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said she believes by not placing the advertisement, the two schools are showing a bias.
“They obviously have that right to do so; however, if they consider themselves a non-biased newspaper of integrity, then common sense would tell them they should be accepting an advertising piece of such researched information,” Hamill said.
The insert contains information regarding topics such as abortion’s and its relation to breast cancer, types of abortions and how to cope with an unwanted pregnancy.
“The main service we provide to the students and general public is information on the sanctity of human life, healthy choices for people, health risks and scientific facts surrounding humanity of the preborn,” Hamill said.
Hamill added the newspaper at UW-Stout has refused these inserts in the past and in March 2008 Marquette University debated whether to run the advertisement, only running it once pressure was applied by the university, students and alumni.
The current editor in chief at the Marquette Tribune, Jim McLaughlin, said he believes the advertisement was originally not run due to graphic images in the pamphlet, not content or topic.
“We call decisions like this one ‘red flag’ topics,” said Lauren Frey, advertising director for the Marquette Tribune. “Anything in this area is reviewed by myself, account executives … then goes through the business manager and the student media board.”
This year, Frey said they made the decision to run the advertisement without debate, as there were no graphic images to be seen.
Correction: The original version of this article said Peggy Hamill is the director of Wisconsin Right to Life, but she is actually the director of Pro-Life Wisconsin. We regret the error.