“They think that because they’re The Statesman they deserve a budget,” the representative said.
Despite the $25,000 cut, The Statesman will still be left with a sizeable budget, much larger than any other publication.
The Statesman supplements its USG funding with the sale of advertisements. But as the economy continues to lag, it is growing increasingly difficult to convince local businesses to buy advertising.
D’Alessandro notes specifically the local Holiday Inn, which used to be one of the most regular advertisers, taking out a 1/4 page ad for each issue. Now, they only buy advertisements for one issue per week, and they have switched to a 1/8 page ad.
Last year, the Statesman had combined revenue of roughly $106,000 according to D’Alessandro. Expenses though topped $145,000. Most of the costs were for printing, but other expenses like distribution, equipment costs and D’Alessandro’s ever-shrinking salary added to the cost of running the paper. And even that number is lower than in years past, when the paper had a paid advertising staff member, a position that they eliminated last year.
The lack of ad revenue is not unique to Stony Brook. The entire newspaper industry is struggling to make due with fewer available ad dollars. And the search for revenue online has yielded few if any solutions.
The Statesman’s website though may be another option for the paper. The costs of running a website are minimal compared to those of a print publication.
“We are exploring online publication,” said Warren. The Statesman’s current website operates within the College Media Network, an mtvU-owned online service for college newspaper websites, but according to News Editor Frank Posillico the paper has no plans to renew their contract with the College Media Network.
Inclusion in the network did not cost the paper any money directly, but the College Media Network took in all of the advertising revenue that was generated from the ads displayed on the site in exchange for their service. Without College Media Network affiliation, The Statesman would be able to charge for online advertising and see the profits themselves.
Operating online would still be tricky though. As Warren notes, small mom and pop stores that make up a significant amount of print ad revenue might be hesitant to extend to the Internet. Likewise for university entities that place ads in the print paper. And The Statesman would not be able to charge anywhere close to their current rates for ads in the print edition.
Now that the budget was approved, it moves to the desk of Vice President for Student Affairs Peter Baigent who must sign off on the budget before it can be officially enacted.
The Statesman would not comment on what they plan to do to stop the cuts from happening, but they weren’t planning on sitting idly by.
“We have plans,” said Warren. “We’re fighting for the campus community.”