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Taylor & Francis

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Communication Law and Policy

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doi: 10.1080/10811680.2010.512509


One of the most common yet understudied means of suppressing free expression on college and university campuses is the theft of freely-distributed student publications, particularly newspapers. This study examines news accounts of nearly 300 newspaper theft incidents at colleges and universities between 1995 and 2008 in order to identify the manifestations and consequences of this peculiar form of censorship, and to augment existing research on censorship and tolerance by looking, not at what people say about free expression, but at what they do when they have the power of censorship in their own hands. Among the key findings is that men commit nearly 70% of newspaper thefts, which is inconsistent with much of the existing research on censorship and gender, and that those who censor college newspapers are far more concerned with their own self-preservation than with shaping public dialog on controversial social or political issues.


Accepted version. Communication Law and Policy, Vol. 15, No. 4 (September 2001), DOI. © 2010 Erik Ugland.

This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Erik Ugland for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Communication Law and Policy, Volume 15 Issue 4, September 2010. doi:10.1080/10811680.2010.512509 (

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