Student Newspaper Evicted from Newsroom, Operating Out of Former Editor’s Apartment
The Phoenix student newspaper at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) has been kicked out of its campus newsroom and is currently operating out of the apartment of its most recent managing editor. The newsroom eviction notice — served by the Canadian school’s student union — is linked to budgetary concerns, student media fees, the campus radio station — and even popular Mexican and Japanese cuisine.
According to an objective report in the Phoenix, a recent “space audit” carried out in the UBCO student center determined the paper’s newsroom “is not the best utilization of space as of right now.” While the paper pays $8,000 (Canadian dollars) per year for its place in the building, outside food vendors like Koi Sushi and Taco Del Mar are apparently willing to pony up $70,000 for a similar spot.
The Phoenix is also on the outs among some at UBCO for being $10,000 in the red at the moment and regularly sporting annual deficits that the student union must then cover by taking cash from its own reserve funds. A recent change in the allocation of a university-wide student media fee is not going to help — instead of going solely to the Phoenix the money will now be split between the paper and UBCO’s student-run radio station Heatwave.
Cut to Alex Eastman. After serving the Phoenix as ME this past school year, he has segued into a new leadership role as the paper’s first full-time non-student staffer. And it is fair to say he is currently taking his work home with him.
Eastman is helping run the Phoenix from his apartment, trying to stitch together a financial rescue plan and attempting to carve out some temporary spaces on campus for meetings and production work. What is he presently paid for his Phoenix gig? Technically, nada. Except the school is throwing him $300 per month as a de facto storage fee, a thank you for housing contents of the old newsroom including computers and data servers at his pad. And he will get $150 for delivering copies of each issue. (Yes, he does apparently hold another job that brings in some real cash). Yowza.
“‘To put it bluntly, not having an office and having less money … is a pretty big blow to our operations,’ said Eastman. ‘It will be harder to recruit and maintain contributors, and we won’t have an office for staff to go.’ Eastman said event coverage will be more difficult, since their photographers used to use the office as a base. … They would store their equipment and they would return to use the paper’s software to do post-production. Now that office is a drive or a bus-ride away.”