Andrew Beard, 20, a University of Connecticut junior from Southbury, has a morning ritual that involves eating breakfast with a spread-out copy of the Daily Campus. Often, he will cut out tidbits he finds funny and post them around his dorm for others to see. Sometimes, the newspaper travels with him for between-class reading.
“If it was only online, then I would always have to carry my laptop with me,” said Beard, who said he was sad to hear the 116-year-old newspaper may soon cease to exist in its present form.
Facing financial difficulties due to a poor economy and shrinking advertising dollars, the Daily Campus recently asked students if they would pay $3 more per semester in fees to keep getting the newspaper. By a 266-vote margin — 1,549 to 1,815 — students voted no.
Now it is up to a fee committee, top university administrators, and ultimately the UConn Board of Trustees to decide if the Daily Campus will get the funding needed to keep it solvent past 2014.
The decision, university spokesman Michael Kirk said, could easily be weeks or even months away.
In the meantime, the staff of the Daily Campus continues to put out the 14-page broadsheet that in 2011 the Princeton Review ranked among the top 20 college newspapers in the country.
It’s not that the paper isn’t well read. What is happening at the Daily Campus is common to many college newspapers across the country. Rising costs and dwindling advertising dollars are causing young journalists to face what publishers of community newspapers across the nation are facing — cutbacks and hard decisions.
Logan Aimone, executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, said belt-tightening is occurring at self-supporting college papers and those that rely primarily on university support.
Jim Simon, director of journalism at Fairfield University and a former adviser to Fairfield University’s Mirror, a weekly student paper that comes out 13 times a semester, said all college papers are struggling with a downturn in the economy and significant decreases in print advertising. At Fairfield, the Mirror receives $30,000 a year from the university.
That money covers printing costs, but advertising revenue must cover just about everything else, including pizza on production night. The one advantage college newspapers can cling to is they have a specific audience a good number of advertisers are anxious to reach, Simon said.
Still, college papers are struggling.
At the University of Illinois’ Champaign-Urbana campus, Roger Ebert has spearheaded a campaign to save the Daily Illini. Some college dailies, such as Boston University’s Daily Free Press and the University of California Berkeley Daily Californian, have cut back from five editions a week to four.