Ivy League Student Newspapers Hurting Financially– Due to Loss of Financial Job Ads

As anyone with a post-Christmas credit card bill will tell you, there is no better way to start the New Year than with bad financial news.  In that spirit, The Daily Princetonian at Princeton University has provided the first sobering– and significant– scoop about college media money matters in 2013.

According to the Prince***, the revenues of student newspapers at Ivy League schools are shrinking due to a noticeable drop in recruiting ads being placed by major financial institutions.

As several Ivy-covered sources tell Prince staff writer Sarah Cen, the decline in these ads is mainly tied to the Wall Street troubles that erupted starting in 2008. The article’s keyword tags sum it up most succinctly: Investment Banking, Recession.

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So is it simply that A-list national employers are not hiring nearly as many ambitious twentysomethings right out of school?  Or do they also possibly see the campus newspaper as a less influential recruiting vehicle than it once was?

The most telling quote in Cen’s report comes from Columbia Daily Spectator advertising manager Daniel Smullyan.  If you read it quietly, you can almost hear economic indicators and ink stains crying: “At its height probably around 2000 during the dot-com period– we had a tremendous amount of recruitment ads.  People were hiring all over the place.  Now we get very few.  I’d say it’s 10 percent what it was 10 to 12 years ago. . . . Print advertising is definitely drying up– period.  It’s not just recruitment.  Print advertising is just not nearly in the demand that it once was.”

Happy 2013.

I’ve reached out to EIC Henry Rome for a follow-up explanation of just how poor a state this ad gap leaves an outstanding paper like the Prince.  Is it simply one additional hurdle to be overcome or a truly fatal blow leaving the pub almost solely reliant on plasma donation and Holocaust denial spots?

Update, 5 p.m., Rome kindly answered my question via email: “There’s no question that the recent decline in recruitment advertising has been a significant loss for us, and it has forced our advertising team to aggressively pursue new advertisers and new modes of advertising, which has kept us stable.  Of course, our margins for error are now much smaller because of the profit hit.  But we do not think we are facing an existential crisis.  We are confident that advertisers recognize that college news organizations– both in print and online– are still the premier way to reach college students across the country.  We don’t have control over whether companies want to recruit, but if they choose to do so, I think we can make a very compelling argument for advertising in the ‘Prince’ (cool nickname aside).”

*** Is there a cooler nickname for a student or professional paper anywhere?

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