The GSA elections last week astounded me.
No, it wasn’t the apathy of the graduate students or the empty voting booths.
Nor was it the fact that executives were acclaimed before the elections began because they ran uncontested.
What I had a problem with is that The Link, which posted a surplus of over a quarter of a million dollars at the end of the last fiscal year, was asking for more money from students in a referendum question.
The question asked graduate students if they would agree to a fee levy of $5.70 per year to join The Link Publication Society. Had it passed, the newspaper would be getting roughly $30,000 per year.
I’m mystified as to why they thought they needed another thirty G’s to add to their wealth. It’s like icing a can of Betty Crocker’s Extra Thick Frosting.
At their last annual general meeting in April, The Link’s editors and business manager said they had all this money saved up because of their “good business practices.”
I am the first to admire good practices in business. And it’s not a bad thing to have a surplus in case of emergencies. Lawsuits and such can crop up when you least expect them.
Just to put things in perspective, allow me to contrast the financial realities of Concordia’s two independent, not-for-profit campus newspapers, The Concordian and The Link.
The Concordian receives $0.10 per credit per student. The Link receives $0.19 per credit per student. For the year 2005-2006, The Concordian took in $62,528.00 from undergraduate students and The Link $118,530.00.
Both papers use the same printer and publish roughly the same amount of content each week. This tells me that either The Concordian can do more with less or that The Link is not operating at capacity.
Ads: The Link has excellent revenue from ad sales, perhaps due in part to the fact that their newspaper is available at 70 locations outside Concordia. The Link has a policy to turn away advertisers they are ethically uncomfortable with. The Concordian can afford no such luxury.
Staff remuneration: Concordian editors don’t receive a salary for their work, nor a guaranteed honorarium, as Link editors do. As last year’s news editor at The Concordian, I didn’t have a problem with not having a salary. Nor do the current editors. Because they love what they do.
But frankly, it’s not easy to find a hard-core bunch like this one. It costs them in time away from schoolwork. It costs money in cell phone bills that they have to pay out of pocket. And a total lack of remuneration means some people are excluded from applying for an editorship at The Concordian all because they have to work part-time to make ends meet.
Equipment: The Concordian’s seven-year-old eMacs are molasses-slow. Our computer network, nicknamed Mr. Crashy Crash Crash, is seriously overloaded and our layout programs outdated.
These combined evils meant that I usually got about an hour’s sleep before my Wednesday morning class since I was also the paper’s production manager.
Speaking of production: The Link has great covers. Oh! how often I looked at those sexy colour covers, smelled the fresh, bright-coloured ink, rubbed it between my fingers, hoping that the ink would rub off on me just a little. Sometimes I would even take a copy home just to look at it.
I wish we had enough money for colour covers all year ’round. How many times did I say to myself, “If I only had a quarter of a million dollars in the bank, I’d take out $300 for a colour cover every week”?
As last year’s news editor and production manager, I have seen first-hand that a paper can survive on almost half of what The Link receives in fees from students.
But let me get my facts straight: am I right in classifying The Link as a not-for-profit business? And isn’t a quarter of a million dollars a bit excessive?
Maybe I’m wrong and The Link needs all that money and more. But that’s not what it looks like from this side of the fence.
Wouldn’t it be great, Linkies, to go head to head with Concordians on a level playing field and see what brilliant journalism we could accomplish? Er. maybe though, you don’t want to do that.
Even on a survival budget, The Concordian must be pretty decent competition. It’s the only explanation I’ve ever gotten as to why The Link refused outright to back The Concordian – out of all the organizations campaigning for a fee levy in the March referendum – when we asked for their support.
We got the message loud and clear. Evidently, The Link supports media plurality on this campus only when its own interests are not at stake.
In fact, if I wasn’t concerned about future Concordian writers and editors, or worried that the paper would go under, I would say, “Fine, we’ll keep doing more with less.”
But because my pride isn’t going to pay the printer’s bills, we will have to go to students in the November by-election to ask if they will support The Concordian with an extra $0.09 per credit so it can actually function at more than a hand-to-mouth level.
If students do vote yes to giving us an extra $0.09 in November, we will thank them for their vote of confidence. If they vote no, so be it.
Somehow, this paper will keep going, even if it has to take ads from Imperial Oil, much as we’d hate to.
If we have to have black-and-white covers and 16-page issues, we will survive.
If we have to bribe our editors with gyros and pizza, we will.
Why? Because we believe this amazing school deserves more than one quality newspaper.
Linkies, if at all possible, would you please do your fellow newspaper the courtesy of not asking students for yet more money when clearly, you are not the ones in need.
Thanks. That’s all I’m asking.
The GSA elections last week astounded me.