The Statesman, Stony Brook University’s oldest newspaper dating back to the Oyster Bay campus in the late 1950s, is facing the biggest cut in USG funding in it’s 53 year history.
The Undergraduate Student Government budget for the 2010-2011 academic year, which was approved by the Senate Tuesday evening, reduces the Statesman’s USG line budget to $2,500 from an allocation last year of over $27,000.
That will be a steep and painful cut the paper will have to endure if they do not recoup some of the lost funding. Last year, despite substantial revenue generated from the sale of ads, the paper was operating at a $39,000 loss according to the paper’s business manager Frank D’Alessandro.
“We were operating at a loss the previous year too, but not as bad,” he said.
The cut has Statesman Editor-in-Chief April Warren and the rest of the student staff questioning how to further cut costs and minimize the damage.
“The Statesman has been looking into going weekly,” said Warren. “We’ve asked Frank [D’Alessandro] to crunch the numbers.” The paper currently puts out two issues per week.
Reducing the frequency of publication would be just the latest in a series cost cutting maneuvers for the Statesman. In the last year, the paper reduced the circulation of each issue by 1000 copies, they eliminated their paid advertising staff position, D’Alessandro took a pay cut, and expenses like travel costs that had previously been covered by the paper now must be paid out of pocket by the student editors and writers.
But the USG argues that even with little or no funding from student activities fees, the paper should be able to put out a quality paper at least once a week.
“If the Press can operate with $40,000 every other week, the Statesman should be able to get by with $80,000,” the approximate amount generated by advertising each year, said one USG source who is familiar with the budget process but wished to remain anonymous because the budget is not yet finalized.
Other campus publications like The Press and The Patriot were granted budgets at the same level or slightly higher than this year’s. And the online news site The Independent is seeking USG funding for the first time. Think Magazine does not currently receive USG funding.
“The fact that they are unable to function properly means they haven’t done a good job managing their money,” the USG official continued.
The cut may have been particularly severe because The Statesman failed to schedule a budget hearing, which would have allowed the staff to explain their financial situation to a member of the USG budget committee in person.
“That was a huge oversight on our part,” admitted Warren.
But one USG representative, again wishing to remain nameless until everything was finalized, cited that as an example of a feeling of entitlement.