Koala refused by Local Printers

    After having their most recent issue rejected by two local printing companies due to objectionable content, satirical campus newspaper the Koala still remains without a permanent printing company, rendering the future of the controversial A.S.-funded organization uncertain.

    According to Koala Editor-in-Chief Kris Gregorian, Pomerado Publishing, which has been printing the Koala for over 20 years, refused to print the latest issue unless a particularly offensive graphic was altered or removed.

    “[Pomerado Publishing] never actually liked the Koala, but they never really looked over people’s shoulders,” Gregorian said. “Once they did, they started asking us to censor images. They called us last minute and said, ‘We’re not going to print this unless you change these images which I found distasteful.’”

    Because of the printing company’s request to alter the paper’s content, Gregorian decided to permanently refuse to print with Pomerado Publishing in the future.

    “I find it particularly insidious when private citizens censor news media,” Gregorian said. “You expect it from government or public institutions, but this is more frustrating. What would be the point of printing the Koala if we’re going to bend over to this censorship?”

    Pomerado Publishing refused to comment.

    The newspaper then turned to VQS Enterprises, a Vista-based printing company that was scheduled to print the Koala’s Nov. 19 issue. However, upon seeing the illustration in question, owner Don McCurdy decided not to go through with printing the issue.

    “We don’t try to control in any way, shape or form the editorial content, but if there is graphic content that would embarrass me if my daughter saw, I would not run it,” McCurdy said.

    Though McCurdy ultimately agreed to print the issue, he said that this would be the last time.

    “If they absolutely needed it I would run the one issue but wouldn’t be interested in going forward with [printing the Koala] in the future,” McCurdy said.

    Earl Warren College freshman Wes Field, Koala staff writer and designer of the controversial image that featured two women performing oral sex on the new Triton statue, defended his graphic as being protected under the First Amendment.

    “I think this is a blow not just to the Koala but to all the students at UCSD who look forward to our publication every month,” Field said. “I think they should be outraged because this sort of private content filtering might further censor the student body.”

    The Koala receives $1,900 each quarter from the A.S. Council. In order to meet contractual production obligations for A.S. funding, the Koala is required to print three issues per quarter, and Gregorian is considering alternative publishing formats and looking for printing companies outside of San Diego to satisfy the terms of the contract.

    “Our current plans consist of talking to any other printers or changing our format, possibly moving away from newspaper to some other format, like a comic book,” Gregorian said. “Our most realistic option is to get it printed in L.A. Unfortunately, there will be a premium and we’ll be paying for delivery from L.A., which could be considerable.”

    Despite the contract’s stipulations, however, Gregorian said he is hopeful that the A.S. Council will be understanding.

    “The production contract is always fluid,” he said. “It’s not because we’re being lazy, but because we’re being faced with severe censorship. We’ve gone through a lot worse; they’ve been really supportive.”

    Associate Vice President of Finance Naasir Lakhani said that although all student organizations receiving A.S. funding are expected to live up to their contracts, they take extenuating circumstances into consideration and it is unlikely that the Koala will be denied future funds.

    “We do have a contract stating that they must print a certain number of issues, [which is] why we give them a certain amount of money,” Lakhani said. “Things like this have happened in the past and usually we’re not super strict about it if there’s a valid reason or excuse. This could be viewed as a reasonable excuse [if] they still put out an effort to get their newspaper published.”

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