Washington Square News Editors ‘Open Rift at Paper’ Over Supervisor’s Role, Salary

A number of current and former staffers at New York University’s Washington Square News are concerned about the paper’s own director of operations, an NYU Local piece confirms.

The growing resentment appears to center not on the person, but the position- a non-student supervisory role that apparently is required by the university in exchange for campus newsroom space in pricey Manhattan.  The director of operations oversees the WSN’s business dealings and wages numerous other behind-the-scenes battles with “the bureaucracy at NYU.”

Yet, as Local revealed, some student staffers view his job as “ill-defined,” “tricky,” and “constitutionally vague.” As the post notes, the director “has no clear supervisor. He constantly wrestles with NYU’s bureaucracy to get things done, but is still not exactly an NYU employee.”  Other issues center on alleged communication breakdowns and what staffers say are frequent failures on the director’s part “to complete his duties.”

His pay is the chief problem for some.  The roughly $75,000 salary is not unusual for a person in a director of operations position nationwide and is even seemingly a bit spartan by Manhattan standards.  But it has been tough to stomach for some members of WSN’s e-board because it eats into nearly a quarter of the paper’s total annual revenue.  And there is a sense that his job could be carried out by someone working half his hours and earning much less pay.

WSN’s editor in chief: “We love having conversations of what we would do with that money.  We would have daily runs all in color, we would invest immediately in our iPad/BlackBerry/Android application. Totally new computers. I could pay my staff.”

The director contends that the ill will in part stems from the classic business-editorial tug-of-war; a lack of understanding among staff about his role; a lack of knowledge about the many unseen tasks he carries out; and a lack of recognition for the importance of such a supervisor at a large, complex student media operation.  As he told Local, “I don’t know of an urban daily with more than 100 students on its roster that doesn’t have a full-time person on the staff.”

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