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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Editorial: Support needed

It’s no secret that the future of student newspapers is in flux. With new, easier ways for news to get out, fewer and fewer consumers are reliant on their morning paper. Along the same lines, advertisers are finding cheaper, more cost-efficient manners to promote their product than in a daily newspaper.

With decreasing income, student-run newspapers are finding it harder and harder to keep up the same level of production while not sacrificing their editorial and financial independence. Newspapers, like The Aggie, have been forced to cut production by slashing pay and days of publication.

One of the most visibly impacted college papers has been The Daily Californian from UC Berkeley. That paper is currently running a $200,000 budget deficit. In an attempt to cover this gap without sacrificing their financial and editorial independence, managers at The Daily Cal put a student referendum on the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) ballot, asking for a $2-per-semester student fee paid toward the newspaper.

We applaud The Daily Cal for coming up with a plan like this that doesn’t sacrifice its editorial or financial independence while still raising funds from an outside source. The Daily Cal was asking its primary consumer — the UC Berkeley students — to donate $4 a year, roughly the price of one Starbucks latte, so that students would continue to get the top-level journalism and reporting colleges need.

Unfortunately, ASUC President Vishalli Loomba issued an executive order that was upheld by the ASUC Senate, nullifying the ballot referendum, citing a UC policy that student fees shall not be used for the support of a non-university organization. The executive order is being appealed in the ASUC Judicial Council, but there’s a good chance the executive order will be upheld.

The Daily Cal is fully independent from UC Berkeley, as it pays rent for its on-campus facilities and doesn’t receive any funding whatsoever from administration. The application of this UC policy to this referendum, however, is questionable. Calling The Daily Cal a “non-university organization” is a stretch, seeing as the paper has offices on the UC Berkeley campus and has had a long and storied history covering the school for over 140 years.

Regardless, The Daily Cal will now have to think of another way to cover its current budget deficit without sacrificing its editorial and financial independence. And they will, whether it involves exploring new income sources or more cuts.

College newspapers pride themselves on their autonomy and ability to report on their respective administrations and student governments without the fear of being censored. It is our responsibility to provide our consumers — students, faculty and community members — with unbiased news and information about the decision makers on campus. An informed campus is a better campus.

We at The Aggie are not in pristine shape budget-wise but we’re not deep in the red, either. But regardless of what our bottom line says, we will stay financially and editorially independent so we can continue to put out the best paper possible.

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