The Daily Californian needs your help

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Trevor Greenan/Senior Staff

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The Daily Californian needs your support. We need UC Berkeley students to sign this petition by 5 p.m. on Friday to help us stay financially independent.

Have you read the Daily Cal’s recent coverage of proposals to dissolve the campus College of Chemistry and nix the public health major?

Did you see our reporting on the balcony collapse that killed six people last summer? On a campus professor implicated in a breach of sexual harassment policies?

Or our real-time updates on the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the city in 2014? On the time three years ago that part of campus, quite literally, exploded?

Maybe you pick up the Daily Cal every day, or sometimes, or never.

But we can promise that when big news happens, we’re there for it — always. For more than a century, students have turned to us for information in the face of protest, scandal or disaster. And now we are turning to UC Berkeley students for a favor that we promise will take less than two minutes.

Sign our petition at asuc.org/inkpetition to help put a fee measure on the spring ASUC ballot. If passed by student voters in April, the measure would keep the Daily Cal financially afloat for the foreseeable future.

The Ink Initiative Student Fee would replace an existing $2-per-semester fee — set to expire next year — with a $2.50-per-semester fee in effect from 2017 to 2022. One-third of the $2.50 would go toward financial aid for all students, with the other two-thirds funding the continued creation and distribution of our newspaper and online content.

The Daily Cal needs this money, because it is financially independent from the campus. That means we rely, like any other newspaper, largely on print advertising sales. But the rapid dawn of the digital age has hurt those sales drastically, hurling the entire journalism industry into financial turmoil.

To cope, the Daily Cal, over several years, made cuts that shrunk our budget by more than $120,000. These include slashing pay, staffing and printing costs, and eliminating our Wednesday print edition.

Yet, we still end every year with a deficit. Cutting is not enough — and we can’t cut print completely because most of our revenue still comes from paper ad sales. We need to make money in new and creative ways, and have been — for example, by utilizing mobile advertising and expanding the types of ads we offer. But progress is inherently slow, partly because online revenue can only grow if our web traffic does, and also because basic digital advertising fails to sustain a newspaper as reliably as basic print sales once did.

Here enters the Ink Initiative fee money, intended to ensure our survival for five more years while we continue to build a sustainable funding model. I know the Daily Cal will get where it needs to be to survive. We will not go gently into the night of an industry that uncovered misconduct in the nation’s highest office and shone a spotlight on years of hidden sexual abuse.

But until we get there, this fee measure is a necessary lifeline. And if we do not get enough signatures by Friday, the measure may not even get put to a student vote at the ASUC elections. It could die on March 11, 2016 at 5 p.m., and the future of UC Berkeley’s student newspaper would all too likely die with it.

Help us put our measure to support the Daily Cal on the ASUC ballot at asuc.org/inkpetition.

Melissa Wen is the editor in chief and president. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.