Campus Newspaper Loses $20,000 After Student Fees Cut

The Globe student newspaper at Utah’s Salt Lake Community College is facing a sudden $20,000 budget shortfall and a potential shuttering after student fees allocated for the paper were cut by 50 percent.  (Read about the other major student newspaper-student fees battle currently brewing at Kansas University.)

According to a Deseret News report, a student-run Fees Board suggested the dramatic cut (later approved by the university and a statewide regents board) as part of a larger student fees redistribution that ironically provides additional funding for a campus media center “for student journalists to use film and video.”

One Student Fee Board member told the Deseret News: “The board feels the paper needs to increase readership and run more articles focusing on students before it asks for funding. If the paper can become ‘a publication that students are screaming to pick up off the rack,’ then maybe the college will fulfill the Globe‘s funding request.

My take: No no no. Establishing content quotas or requiring a campus media outlet to ‘scream’ tabloid-style to passersby in order to secure funding sets a dangerous precedent. A paper’s editorial principles or overall tone should not be the catalysts for funding decisions. Seriously, why is a paper that screams better than one that quietly and doggedly reports news worth knowing? And what if a paper’s gung-ho coverage exposing wrongdoing produces the wrong kind of screams? Will there be more funding cuts then?

The irony of this board member’s reasoning is also cringe-inducing. The paper’s budget is being slashed to the point that its survival prospects look bleak- while simultaneously being told to enhance itself tremendously.

To the SLCC Student Fees Board: Want to truly help the Globe? Prop it up with a solid budget, ensure its staff has the training and resources it needs to report, and get out of its way.

And one last parting shot: The school recently earned kudos for being an “enrollment leader” as “the sixth-fastest growing two-year public school in the country.”  Apparently, it is a good time to be at SLCC.  Yet, the campus newspaper, the college’s voice, cannot continue receiving support that equates to only $1 per student?

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