Butler Collegian Drowning in ‘Red Ink’: Ad Drops, Cost-Cutting, Uncertain Future

The Butler Collegian is in the midst of a financial bloodletting its editor-in-chief equates to “red ink.” Advertising revenue for the Butler University student newspaper has plummeted more than 5o percent in the past seven years — dropping from $42,000 per year to less than $20,000.

As EIC Colin Likas relates, “In the midst of this upheaval, Butler University has cut direct funding support by more than 50 percent, from a high of $22,000 13 years ago to just under $9,700 last academic year, leading to several years of budget shortfalls. During this time, the university’s expectation for advertising and subscription revenue increased $12,000, leading to several consecutive years of shortfalls. Last year’s shortfall totaled nearly $30,000.”

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Changing times. Decreased ad support. Reduced funding. Rising expectations. Cue cost-cutting.

According to Likas, Collegian staff pay has been chopped in half — leaving Likas at $38 per week and reporters and photogs at $7.50 per assignment. Staff have also cut the number of copies printed by more than 1,000 each issue and worked an ad-exchange deal with a local eatery to slash newsroom food costs.

Larger funding questions remain: Should it come from student fees, the College of Communications, the university at-large?

Indianapolis Star associate editor Russ Pulliam, part of the family whose funds support Butler’s Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism, tells Likas: “Our funding is running out in the news media that I work in– from advertising– and we’re having to find other ways to pay for both personnel and distribution. If your funding runs out, you go find other funding. That’s what we’ve always found in journalism.”

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