Without $9.30 From Every Student Every Year, UC Davis Campus Newspaper Will Die

Except for the masthead, the front page of the most recent issue of The California Aggie is empty above the fold. The huge swath of white space featured in the University of California, Davis, student newspaper is not a printing error or editorial protest. It is an eye-grabbing funding push.

Aggie editors are aiming to convince the UC Davis faithful to accept a $9.30 increase in their annual student fees to help keep the paper alive — and ensure news on campus does not fade to nothing but white space. Apparently, without the added fees support, the ink-stained Aggie might truly morph into nothing more than a memory.

Over the past five years, the paper’s advertising revenue has been in absolute free-fall, depleting its budget reserves from a half million dollars to less than $20,000. The number of paid staffers — and the amount they receive — has simultaneously dropped. And the paper has also shifted from an almost-daily (four times per week) to a weekly in print to help offset costs.

As The Davis Enterprise reports, “Faced with ad revenue that hasn’t recovered after falling off a cliff, the student newspaper staff is asking its fellow UC Davis students to approve a $3.10-per-quarter fee that would raise an estimated $272,800 annually. For the measure to succeed, 20 percent of the student body must vote — and 60 percent plus one must support it. If it fails, the 99-year-old paper will die.”

Yowza. I guess we ain’t mincing words.

There are sideshows bubbling beneath the surface of the student body vote — including the language of the measure and how often it should come up for review — but the bottom line from the editorial team’s perspective is that the money is needed to keep the Aggie afloat.


Below the fold of the same front page sporting a blank slate up top, the Aggie crew lays out three reasons students should help the paper stick around. According to the eds, without the Aggie, “UC Davis will be the only UC without a student-run newspaper. … We will lose the best hands-on experience for students interested in journalism, photography, editorial design, illustration and advertising. … [And] we will no longer be able to ensure accountability of [the student government] and the administration.”

Atop their tuition bills, room-and-board charges and existing student fees, are those reasons worth an additional $9.30 a year to UC Davis students? Voting on the measure ends Friday.

Near the center of the issue sporting the front-page survival plea, the Aggie ran a pair of guest opinion pieces debating whether students should support the fees hike. In his write-up, senior political science major Alex Tavlian respectfully argues no. One of his main reasons: “There is no apparent game plan for The Aggie’s future.”

According to Tavlian, “In the event that the fee hike is passed by voters, there’s very little information being provided to the voters as to what the Aggie plans to do to avoid another financial meltdown and continue operations efficiently. Printing the newspaper is not a viable option nor should it be pursued in the short-term future. Our generation of readers are looking for better news not found on paper.”


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