Poor sales prompt yearbook takeover


University places student publication under control of public relations office





\nPENNSYLVANIA -- After only a quarter of the 3,000 seniors\nat the University of Pittsburgh purchased a yearbook last year\n-- leaving the publication with a large deficit -- administrators\nstepped in, transferring control over the yearbook from students\nto the public affairs department.

"The yearbook was about to go out of business anyway,"\nsaid Ken Service, a university spokesman. He said the joint venture\nbetween the student government board, the alumni association and\nthe public affairs department was a way to save the yearbook for\nthe students.

The university will spend $60,000 on a new, redesigned yearbook.\nBefore this year, Service said administrators expected Panther\nPrints to be self-supporting through yearbook sales and advertising\nrevenue.

Panther Prints will be distributed free to graduating\nstudents at commencement. The new yearbook will have 160 pages\n---down from 272 pages last year -- and will no longer include\nsenior portraits. It will instead feature candid photos and will\ntake a year-in-review approach.

"This is something we believe will be of value to students\nand something our alumni association believes will be of value\nto students," Service said. "We're trying to develop\nsomething that is more contemporary and more in tune with what\nstudents are interested in."

The editor of Panther Prints, Corinne Rushkowski, said\nshe is happy with the decision to revamp the yearbook.

"I was glad to see the university was still concerned\n[about the yearbook]," Rushkowski said. "I'm glad to\nsee them rework it instead of get rid of it."

Rushkowski said student interest in the yearbook had dwindled\nover the past five years, with an accompanying decrease in sales.\n

"It was just a matter of time before the traditional yearbook\nwas discontinued," she said.

But Rushkowski said she did not agree with the decision to\neliminate senior portraits from the book.

"I'm a traditional kind of person," she said. "I\nwas upset to see [the old format of] the yearbook go because that's\nwhat I'm used to."

Terry Lucas, faculty adviser to Panther Prints, said\nthe decision to remove senior portraits was made by the university\nchancellor's office.

Rushkowski said she believes students will retain control over\nthe yearbook. She said she is collaborating with public affairs\nstaff members to decide on the yearbook's content. So far, she\nsaid, there have been no instances of censorship.

"This is volume one of a completely new publication at\nthe University of Pittsburgh," Rushkowski said. "If\nit is successful this year, there is no boundary to what we can\ndo in upcoming years. I'm glad I'm able to be a part of it"


reports, Winter 1999-2000