Funding cuts threaten future of Salt Lake City Community College newspaper

UTAH -- The future of Salt Lake City Community College's student newspaper, The Globe, remains uncertain due to drastic funding cuts by the college's Student Fees Board. The Board reported the paper must increase readership and focus more on campus activities before asking for funding.

The Utah State Board of Regents approved the college's Student Fees Board recommendation to cut the paper's allocated student fees in half in March 2010. Currently, The Globe receives $1 for every full-time enrolled student. Starting in July, the paper will receive 50 cents, decreasing their total budget to approximately $20,000. The rest of The Globe's funding comes from ad revenue to cover other expenses such as delivery and student salary. The Globe has a joint-operating agreement with the University of Utah's student newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle, which sells ads for both newspapers.

According to a March 10, 2010 Globe article, titled "SLCC's independent voice in danger," Nicholas Ferre, a student senator and member of the Student Fees Board said, "It was a very hard decision... What was brought to my attention by the student body was that The Globe was lacking in certain areas, and that they really needed to focus on...who their target audience was."

Ferre listed these "areas" as the overuse of advertisements, the overuse of wire articles and the need for more campus-related articles.

The Student Fees Board is composed of the dean of students, the vice president of student services, the college's budget director, the dean of student planning and support and students leaders--the student body president, a student senator and a student peer leader. SLCC's vice president of student services is the nonvoting chairperson of the Student Fee Board.

Members of the Student Fees Board did not return multiple calls by press time.

Ani Arakelian, editor-in-chief of The Globe, said she thinks justification behind the budget cuts is unfounded.

"One of the major things that was said was that we don't cover enough campus events, which is just flat out wrong. We've also been told that we cover too many sports, but we have nationally ranked teams, we're not going to ignore [them]," Arakelian said. "In the past, The Globe was not doing as well as it's doing right now, and there were a lot of wire articles being printed. In the spring semester we have not printed one wire article, and in the fall semester 2009 we printed less than 10."

Arakelian said she was also told to print fewer papers. The Globe prints 15,000 papers a week for 60,000 students spread out over eight campuses. The Globe was formerly a twice-weekly publication, but reduced printing to one issue a week to cut costs.

The funds The Globe receives from the Student Fees Board go directly toward printing costs.

"We also have to pay for delivery, we also have to pay for our papers to be picked up and recycled. There are a lot of costs that go into a newspaper that people don't realize...I don't understand the reasoning behind cutting our funding for us to print [fewer] ads. That just means we have to print twice as many ads," Arakelian said.

Arakelian said she has been encouraged to only publish online. The Globe has been publishing online content for its"> Web site for five years.

"We don't get half the readership we get [in print], online...They don't want to read their student news online. The newspaper is something they read between classes," Arakelian said.

Julie Gay, adviser for The Globe agrees. "National advertisers and advertisers print in college newspapers because it works. They wouldn't do it if they didn't get a return on their money. If we did that and we went totally online, we would lose our entire revenue stream," she said.

Arakelian said the cuts were likely to affect the newspaper next spring and that she was told to run The Globe as normal, even if the paper goes into debt.

"It takes awhile for it to catch up to us for when we don't have money. At that time, we were told to run into the red, but after that time I'm not sure what will happen exactly," Arakelian said.

Gay highlighted the importance for journalism students to get real world experience by working for their school newspaper.

"When they know that someone else is going to be reading it, it's going to be published, that's a really meaningful thing for them. So if we lose our ability to print, we lose the ability for our students to display their craft, which would be a very sad thing," Gay said.

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