Arrests, Thefts, Firings, and a Romantic Scandal; U of A's College Newspaper Resembles an Episode of Melrose Place

You would probably think the newsroom at a college newspaper would be a fairly non-confrontational environment -- a few stories about how much the latest tuition increase sucks, a professor winning some award, and how much the basketball team needs a new coach.

This is apparently not the case at the University of Arizona's Daily Wildcat.

Over the past four months, U of A's collegiate rag seems to have had more problems than readers. With one of its editors getting a criminal citation, the theft of thousands of free papers, a controversial romance, and bickering among staffers, the news outlet has since become the news.

The drama began to take-shape when Shain Bergan, one of the paper's managing editors was cited for disorderly conduct, following an incident at a U of A football game on November 21, which was being aired nationally on ABC.

Bergan apparently stole and broke a sign favoring the rival Oregon Ducks and was charged with disorderly conduct.

Two days later, the paper's editorial board -- Bergan included -- wrote an editorial about how a group of U of A students made "an ass of itself" on national television. Check it out here.

This is when the shit hit the fan.

As a result of his conduct at the game, Wildcat Editor Alex Dalenberg suspended Bergan for five issues and ran a statement from the paper about the incident. Bergan got all butt-hurt by the way the paper had handled his situation and wanted to run his own unedited version of the statement.

Here is glimpse of a conversation between Bergan and Dalenberg, compliments of Tucson Weekly:

Alex: Shain, you're done. You can't dictate your own story from outside the newsroom.

Shain: What are you talking about?

Alex: No, that's it! I'm fucking done with you! You can either resign right now, or you're fired!

Shain: Are you fucking kidding me?!

Alex: No.

Shain: Then I resign.

Alex: OK.

Shain: Fuck you.

The drama didn't end there.

Bergan claims that Dalenberg began dating the paper's design chief, Marisa Fisher, and approved what Bergan feels was an unwaranted raise.

"[Dalenberg] started dating the design chief and giving her preferential treatment. That's when we started to realize this is getting serious and ridiculous. He gave her a raise. She was making $50 a day and was only there for a few hours a day, while we're busting our ass all the time for $28 a day," Bergan says.

Well, somebody's gotta make the big bucks.

"There is never a dull moment on a student newspaper," the paper's faculty adviser, Mark Woodham, tells TW. "There's always going to be something."

If that's the case, the only challenge now is making the content in the paper as entertaining as what goes on behind the scenes -- then people might actually read a student newspaper.

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James King
Contact: James King