“Campus Publications Face Cash Crunch” at Princeton

Who or what is truly to blame for the economic toil and trouble in collegemediatopia?

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A Daily Princetonian report notes that a number of student-run publications at the university are in various states of financial duress, the editor of one noting that the staff was “scrambling to accrue ad revenue.”  The four main reasons cited by the article:

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1) Economic collapse

2) Advertising woes affecting print publications worldwide

3) Small audience size of many student media

4) Mismanagement of funds/lack of an advertising push by the student editorial or marketing teams

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I personally think the last item in the list gets far too little attention as being a root cause of the current “cash crunch.”   Obviously the first two have exacerbated the problem, and the third is a given.  But for every major student media outlet sporting a general manager and a hundred-thousand-dollar budget, there are tens of thousands of smaller outlets run by students with nary an interest or iota of experience in advertising or marketing.  (I know this firsthand, because I served as the editor of one such student outlet during my undergrad days.)

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As the well-written Princetonian piece states:

Many campus publications . . . have a limited audience and are poorly run, scaring off potential donors from contributing and businesses from placing advertisements. The economic downturn, he explained, has only revealed the bad habits of those who run the publications.  “Usually, it’s poor management on the part of the publication staff,” [said one Princeton student media head].  “By and large, they don’t know how to go about getting the most quality for the least cost and don’t operate with cutting costs in mind.”

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