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For 141 years, this paper has been a regular fixture on campus, informing students of the most important issues affecting our community.

Starting today, students will head to the polls to vote on whether a $2 semesterly fee is worth sustaining The Daily Californian for five years, in the most volatile chapter in the history of journalism.

Today’s front page above the fold is blank. There are no stories on the ASUC election, nothing about this year’s increase in crime, no photos of police officers using force against protesters and no notice of future tuition increases. The coverage you are used to is on page two, and after today, it will continue as it has since 1871.

But if the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative does not pass, that may not be the case for long.

In 2008, the advent of the Internet and Craigslist caused our revenue to plummet by 37 percent in only three years. Newspapers across the nation faced similar crises. At one point, the San Francisco Chronicle was losing $1 million per week.

In response, we cut our Wednesday edition and eliminated pay for writers. These and other cuts since then have decreased our expenses by nearly $200,000.

We have addressed the crisis head-on with revenue initiatives led by students. We restructured our sales department this year, boosting our local advertising revenue by 42 percent in February and 24 percent in March compared to last year. We have also tripled our online advertising revenue so far this fiscal year relative to the same period last year.

Yet our deficit remains substantial. We are committed to filling more than half of it ourselves, and now we are asking students to help with the rest.

We have reviewed the fee initiative process carefully to preserve our independence. The fact that the university and ASUC would not be able to intercept the fee funds ensures that students can continue to write critically and honestly.

Despite the cuts we have made, our editorial content is at the forefront of the industry. We were declared the Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2010. We have more social media followers than almost any other student newspaper in the nation, and our website visits are up 44 percent from last year. We were awarded first place for Best Use of Social Media by the California College Media Association for 2010 and will place in the category twice for 2011.

The Daily Cal is a student newspaper produced by students, for students. We wake up each and every morning asking ourselves how we can better serve you. V.O.I.C.E. would allow us to build on our progress and keep our community informed for many years to come.

Visit voiceforcal.org for more information or email me with your questions at [email protected]

Tomer Ovadia is the editor in chief and president. Contact him at [email protected]