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College Press Service/U.S. Student Press Association

Finding Aid

by Chip Berlet


University of Denver - Archive

26 boxes (approx.)

Initial draft by Chip Berlet, April 13, 2010

College Press Service (CPS), as an independent student-run news organization, existed from the early 1960s until the 1980s, beginning in Washington, DC, and ending in Denver Colorado.

Editors of the University of Denver student newspaper, the Clarion, played important leadership roles during the existence of College Press Service as a student run organization.

Main Archive Title: College Press Service

Cross References:

United States Student Press Association (USSPA)
Collegiate Press Service (CPS)
National Student Association (U.S. National Student Association (NSA)


Other Collections

University of Colorado at Boulder

College Press Service
34.5 linear feet 1978-1985
Campus Press Service was established in 1962 by the National Student Association to syndicate news
from Washington, DC to college and university newspapers. CPS, in 1970, broke away from NSA and in
1978 private ownership turned CPS into the largest national college news and graphics syndicate in the
U.S. The collection consists of alphabetical files of articles of interest to college newspapers, 1978-1985.
Guide available in Archives.

[Note inaccurate reference to "Campus Press Service."

Portions especially correspondence at Wisconsin State Historical Society archived under National Student Association.

Portions especially correspondence at Swarthmore College Peace Collection archived under Dispatch News Service International.

Portions relating to Liberation News Service at Amherst College in the Bloom Alternative Press collection.


Organizational Genealogy

College Press Service traces its roots to the establishment of the U.S. National Student Association (NSA) in 1947 at a conference at the University of Wisconsin. The first headquarters of NSA was in Madison, a few blocks from the University and the nearby State Historical Society of Wisconsin where the archives of the National Student Association are held.

In 1962 the National Student Association helped establish the United States Student Press Association (USSPA) as an autonomous organization of student editors at colleges and universities in the United States. The plan for USSPA as an organization was formalized at the Student Editorial Affairs Conference held at Ohio State University in August 1962 and attended by 30 college editors. The conference was sponsored by the National Student Association and the Conference in International Affairs sponsored by the Overseas Press Club [Letter, USSPA, Oct. 14, 1966, to student editors, on file at Penrose Library Archive].

USSPA established the Collegiate Press Service (CPS) as a news service supplied to member college newspapers [Ibid.]. CPS was printed and mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. Articles from CPS were reprinted with credit in local campus newspapers. "Mark Acuff, 1961-1962 editor of the New Mexico Lobo, began work on the Association by putting out the press service once a week, recruiting members and tending to various crises which afflicted the college press that year" [Ibid.].

With the 1967 revelations in Ramparts Magazine of covert CIA manipulation of the International Desk of the National Student Association, USSPA and CPS disaffiliated from NSA and set up a separate organizational structure. Offices were established on Church Street in Washington, DC.

Throughout the existence of USSPA, national meetings and conferences were held, most frequently twice a year, with one meeting in Washington, DC and another at the campus of an affiliated campus newspaper. For example, the second national Congress of USSPA was held at Indiana University in August of 1963 [Conference Program, Penrose Library Archive]. At some point, the name Collegiate Press Service was shortened to College Press Service.

During 1967 and 1968 a political split occurred within USSPA and College Press Service resulting in Marshall Bloom and Raymond Mungo leaving to form the more radical left Liberation News Service. Bloom recalls this episode in his book Famous Long Ago, which also recounts a subsequent split within LNS.

In 1970, USSPA suffered a severe financial setback, and it was clear it could not survive. Several CPS staff and local campus reporters for CPS from Colorado evolved a plan to save the news service as an independent operation. Washington, DC staff who assisted were Carl Nelson and Nick DeMartino. The operations were relocated from Washington, DC to Denver, Colorado, in part to take advantage of the lower costs of office space and housing. The staff operated as a working collective, and consisted of Chip Berlet, Diane Wolfe, Steve Hatch, and Curt Koehler. Berlet had been editor of the University of Denver Clarion from March 1970 until June 1971. Wolfe and Hatch had been on the staff of the Metro State College Newspaper in Denver. Koehler, from Columbia University, had worked with Berlet on several media and education projects involving church youth groups. Periodic assistance came from local Denver journalists and activists, including Ed Stein (later editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News), Bill Sonn, and Ruth Cory (all of whom had worked on the Denver Clarion); and Grace Mastalli, a colleague of Berlet and Koehler, who attended the University of Denver Law School.

In 1973 CPS forged an alliance with Dispatch News Service International for syndication rights of international news. That same year CPS and Liberation News Service began a cooperative news, cartoon, and photograph exchange. A relationship was also established with the Underground Press Syndicate (later renamed the Alternative Press Syndicate with Berlet as a board member).

In 1976, President Gerald Ford met with College Editors and included Koehler (temporarily working at the National Student Association) and "Carol O'Connor, College Press Service, Denver, Colorado" [Presidential archive, http://www.ford.utexas.edu/LIBRARY/document/diary/pdd760810.pdf].

The College Press Service Collective ran CPS as a news service for several years, with recent college editors and reporters cycling through the staff. The offices were originally on Pennsylvania Avenue near Colfax. Koehler then arranged the financing to purchase a house on Gilpin Street as an office, with space for other non-profit and progressive groups.

When the collective could no longer pay the bills in 1978, the house on Gilpin Street was sold, the net proceeds distributed to local progressive groups in Denver, and a big party was held. Former CPS contributors Ed Stein and Bill Sonn bought the rights to the mailing list and ran CPS as a commercial enterprise before finally selling it. CPS was eventually absorbed into the Tribune Media Services as a commercial operation.

The Denver Business Journal recorded the demise:

=== Three news services geared to college and high school newspapers have been sold by Denver-based Interrobang Inc. to Tribune Media Services, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Tribune Co.

===The services have been moved to Orlando, Fla., home of Tribune Media.

===College Press Service, in existence since 1963, provides college news to 610 college newspapers and about 20 metropolitan daily newspapers. It is updated twice weekly and distributed by mail or computer.

===The news service was bought in 1978 by Interrobang, a company mainly owned by Bill Sonn, president of Interrobang, and Ed Stein... [Tom Locke, "3 campus news services graduate to Florida. (Interrobang Inc. sells 3 news services to Tribune Media Services)", Denver Business Journal, August 23, 1991].






Visit: Barricade Journalism: Notes from a Once Underground Press
by Chip Berlet