Daily Nexus: “Why We Need Your Money”

In an old “West Wing” episode (Season 2.4– any other WW-junkies out there?), a leader of an AIDS-stricken African nation tells the President plainly, “It’s a terrible thing to beg for your life.”
Avoiding uber-dramatics, it is clear that the print newspapers peopling collegemediatopia are approaching such  life-saving beggary.  The quote has come to mind numerous times over the past month as I read evermore student paper editorials that blatantly appeal to student readers, the student government, or anyone with a bag of cash walking by the university gates for mucho moola.  The latest, run in The Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara, carries the most direct headline: “Why We Need Your Money.”  The piece, accompanied by an editorial cartoon in which a large octopus called “Financial Ruin” overtakes a ship bearing the Nexus name, begins:
Next week, we’re going to ask you to do something we never thought we would have to do. . . . We definitely cringe at having to do this.  We’re going to ask you to give us more money.  The main reason we’re doing this is that, despite our best efforts, we aren’t earning enough money through advertisements to match the rising cost of producing the paper, so we have to increase our other source of income: money from the readers.
Direct appeals for renewed or increased student fees seem to be the most popular.  (See recent Daily Kansan editorial.)  Also appearing on the scene are what I’m calling the why-we’re-here editorials.  The true message of these types of pieces seems to be in the subtext.  It’s not so much what they’re saying, but simply the fact that they exist.  Even the most confident papers apparently feel it is necessary right now to step back from their coverage to clarify what they do and why they matter, lest readers forget (especially when the time comes that funding might be needed).  It is not a direct money grab, but it is hard not to see the save-the-children-help-a-worthy-cause mentality underlying it.
Student newspapers are so damn essential to campus life, it is almost sad for me to read these forced attempts at summing up their awesomeness in 800 words or less.  Student papers should not have to explain themselves!  It is a terrible thing to have to beg for your life.
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  1. […] As someone who fought hard this past year to get a lock-in fee passed to bring back our Friday paper, I’ve got to say that trying to save print is not about fear of the unknown.  It’s rooted in the fact that the only place where everyone still picks up a paper each day is a college campus, and where less than a handful of students venture online to read content. […]