Editorial: Covering our debt

The Record rarely publishes articles concerning its own operations, but this week we chose to report on our own financial difficulties. A $12,000 budget deficit, accrued recently in the trend of the national newspaper crisis, has put the paper in debt to the College, and not mentioning this fact would be a violation of the strict editorial policies of fairness and openness to which we adhere as student journalists.

As an independent student organization, the Record funds its operations entirely through revenue from advertisements and subscriptions. Keeping its accounts through the College Controller’s Office, the paper has historically been solvent enough to keep this exchange limited to a mere operational formality. Recently, advertising and subscription revenues have both dropped significantly due to the larger problems affecting the global economy, and in a week when the newspaper could usually expect multiple full-page ads from consulting firms recruiting on campus and the usual flush of campus and local business ads, there is now only one eighth-page advertisement in the entire newspaper. Often 16 or 18 pages in length in the past, the newspaper now stands at 12 pages for the foreseeable future.

In the climate of financial uncertainty, the Record has reported the multiple ways in which the recession has affected the community, from financial aid to departmental budget cuts. And when other student organizations have been in debt, such as when All-Campus Entertainment discovered a $25,000 debt in fall of 2007, the Record reported on it. Although the situations differ because the Record will make up its debt on its own and without the help of, for instance, College Council, Campus Life or Dean’s Office funds, as other groups would do, we feel that we must hold ourselves to the same standards, since both scenarios involve debts owed to the College.

The Record’s debt is also one telling result of campus-wide budget cuts. The music department and the ’62 Center, for instance, had to slash promotion costs when the College tightened its purse strings, and therefore stopped advertising weekly in the paper.

Despite the current straits, the Record still maintains editorial independence. The paper’s business staff continues to work to restore financial solvency and currently has a plan in place to do so.

In this situation, where the Record is directly relying on the College for the money to print the newspaper, the community deserves to know how the College’s money is being spent as well as how the Record is being funded. In this case, the Record’s own standards of credibility, accuracy and fairness dictate that it must treat itself as it does any other student group receiving funding from the College, even if only temporarily.