Daily Californian gives ASUC Senate, student body V.O.I.C.E. updates

The Daily Californian Editor in Chief Chloe Hunt gave a presentation Wednesday evening to the ASUC Senate regarding V.O.I.C.E. funds. A modified version of the speech is below. A full video of the speech, along with the question and answer section, will be available on the ASUC Senate’s YouTube channel.

The Daily Cal acts as the paper of record for the city of Berkeley and as a training organization for undergraduate students at UC Berkeley. As an independent, student-run newspaper, our staff members face the obstacles of college life as well as the concerns faced by the entire journalism industry — is print dying? What does the news of the future look like? Will national or local media survive? What are the best methods of revenue?

Facing declining revenue and searching for answers to these pressing questions, the Daily Cal launched a fee referendum in 2011. The text of the referendum went as follows:

“The Daily Californian has faced a significant decline in advertising revenue over the last several years due to severe structural shifts in the journalism industry — this has left it open to the possibility of cutting days of print. Do you approve a $2 semesterly student fee, thirty-three percent of which will go towards financial aid as per the campus’ Return-to-Aid policy, beginning in fall 2012 and remaining at a constant rate for five years in order to ensure that The Daily Californian can afford to maintain its print editions while allowing it to continue to pursue new avenues of sustainability and expand its online presence.”

I’m here today to discuss with you all how the Daily Cal has used V.O.I.C.E. funding in the last year and some of the ways we’ve improved our processes to cut costs and raise revenue in new and exciting ways.

But first — I wanted to give you a glimpse into how our revenues are doing currently. As students, I know it can often be confusing why we place so much reliance on print when, for many of you, I’m sure finding stories on Facebook or online is a prominent and growing way you read the Daily Cal. The fact is, about 70 percent of our revenue is still budgeted to come from advertisements, which is primarily due to our print production.

We fund ourselves through a variety of business methods: print ads, online ads, classified, legals, donations, grants and events. We’re ever expanding this diversified model. In the last year alone, we’ve tried new methods, some of which have been successful and others less so. Funds from the V.O.I.C.E. referendum constitute less than 10 percent of the Daily Cal’s total revenue. Primarily, these funds go to print, distribution and our budget for online development.

In the meanwhile, we’ve worked to cut costs and raise revenues in new and exciting ways: We’ve lowered the number of professional staff, introduced work study for a number of previously paid positions, reduced and optimized the number of distribution locations and scaled back summer operational and payroll expenses.

We’ve also introduced a series of new consumer-end products such as a new Free Speech Movement book and launched a new advertisement-only magazine, our menu guide. We’ve further introduced a series of new advertiser-end products, such as targeted advertisements and classifieds. Our web traffic is at an all-time high this year, and we’ve added the capabilities to do mobile advertisements.

In development, we’ve introduced an end-of-the-year fundraising campaign to raise over $30,000 and streamlined our grant application process to increase quantity of grants. Year to date, we’re about $60,000 below our budgeted expenses. The students’ contribution is paying off: This year, we reached our target goal of averaging more than 1 million pageviews per month during the school year, and we steadily receive more traffic than other Bay Area newspapers. Our reach and our readership continue to grow.

We’re not sustainable yet — no one in the newspaper industry is. But over the past weeks, we’ve heard from senators about ways we could improve our methods of explaining our advancements to the student body. And we agree — media is an exciting place right now. We’re a newspaper, we’re a training organization and we’re a lab. We, like many of you here, want Berkeley to be the place of innovation and the place looked to at the national landscape. We want to create models and methods that will influence the national landscapes.

In order to address the concerns, we’re implementing a variety of new methods:
A copy of our campaign website is now online, we’ll be giving more frequent presentations to the ASUC Senate, and we’ll be publishing an update on VO.I.C.E. funds at the beginning of the fall semester for incoming and returning students.

For additional questions or concerns, please email me at [email protected]

 

Chloe Hunt is the editor in chief and president.

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