Jack White disses student newspaper over open records request

White. (AP)
White. (AP)

The Oklahoma Daily

Thanks to controversy surrounding a student newspaper's open records request, the public now knows that Jack White is currently on a "no banana" tour, that he prefers his guacamole "chunky" and that he doesn't think much of journalism degrees.

Those details were revealed after the University of Oklahoma's OU Daily got curious about White's sold-out performance at the university's McCasland Field House. Staffers wanted to see how much the University was paying White to perform (upwards of $80,000, it turns out), so they filed an open records request for the contract.

The paper received the document and published it on its website. Among the most interesting tidbits:

  • White isn't into bananas right now: “We don’t want to see bananas anywhere in the building.”
  • The band is really specific about their guac demands. White and company require "fresh home-made guacamole," and even provide a recipe.
  • After the show, White wants "a New York strip steak, cooked medium, with steamed vegetables on the side and no sauce."

At the concert a few days after the contract was published, White went on a "mini-rant" against the student newspaper, according to an attendee, telling concert-goers to steer clear "of journalism and law degrees."

White also had "a raunchy suggestion" for The Daily, according to a review of the concert from The Oklahoman.

The Daily responded to White after the concert, defending the paper's right to public information about university spending:

Journalism must hold public figures accountable. By our university paying White and his band $80,000 to play on campus, he is a public figure. Also, the university officials who booked White were public officials tasked with managing money, some of which comes from students’ fees. We reported the costs so students could see how their money was being spent, who was spending and on whom it was spent.

As for harm, no harm was done to White unless you count his ego. But it’s important to understand that we didn’t publish that information to embarrass White. We published the information because students need to know how their money is being spent — even if it’s being spent on homemade guacamole and aged salami with a sharp knife.

The controversy caused by the article has prompted entertainment companies to blackball the university as a concert venue.

The Daily's review of the concert, meanwhile, was generally complimentary.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that The Oklahoma Daily obtained details surrounding Jack White's upcoming appearance through a Freedom of Information Act request. In fact, staffers gained access to the contract through the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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