Canadian University Press in ‘State of Crisis,’ Turns to Crowdfunding for Survival

Major existential and financial questions are apparently plaguing Canada’s largest student media association. According to Maclean’s, the Canadian University Press (CUP) is running a deficit, sporting zero savings, preparing to lay off a dozen part-time staff and just generally facing a “state of crisis.”

In response, the group is staging a six-week crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The surprisingly naked act of desperation centers on a request for $50,000 in donations, so the CUP will not “be forced to rely on volunteer staff and make drastic changes to [its] newswire and other services, which include access to legal counsel, mentorship and the annual conference.”

A large chunk of the CUP’s money woes center on what The Imprint at the University of Waterloo calls a “mass exodus of members.” All told, 35 of the 90 member publications have opted out over the past decade, with critical student editors deeming its services overpriced and not in line with the needs of modern college media.

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The Ubyssey, the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia, was one of the outlets that joined together to form CUP in 1938. This past summer, 76 years later, it moved on. As Ubyssey editors explained in a note to readers:

“CUP fees … cost the Ubyssey more than $7,000 last year. After analyzing our budget and carefully considering the benefits of CUP, the editorial board decided that the organization no longer provided significant value. … CUP provides a newswire compiling content from all its member papers, as well as offering some institutional support such as legal help and mentorship programs. Due to the Ubyssey’s comparatively large size, many of CUP’s offerings were redundant. For example, the Ubyssey has its own attorney on retainer, and our robust alumni network offers ample mentorship for our staff.”

Along with saying sayonara to the CUP, the Ubyssey also saddled up with six other major student newspapers scattered across our neighbor to the North to start a competing, FREE newswire service: the National University Wire.

Bottom line, according to one student editor: “We want to see [CUP] survive, but it has become too bloated at a time when newspapers across the country are having to tighten their budgets because of decreasing advertising revenues.”

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