After deliberations at the end of the spring, the board of The Williams Record chose not to accept the resolution passed by College Council (CC) in May (“CC votes to pay for one page of ads in the Record, with One in 2000 stipulation,” May 14, online).
The Record begins this year’s operations with a clean slate as the College decided to erase the newspaper’s financial deficit of approximately $21,000. Over the summer, members of both the business office and the editorial board took measures to work toward financial sustainability for the newspaper.
According to Kaitlin Butler ’11, Record editor-in-chief, summer initiatives included speaking to recent Record alumni to gather advice and perspectives, reaching out to parents of College students for subscriptions, working with potential advertisers to determine reasonable advertising packages and prices and working directly with the administration through conversations with Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Public Affairs.
“There are plenty of options on the table for big changes in upcoming years,” Butler said. “This year, coming off the deficit, we need to be better at what we’re doing right now. We’re going to work harder at the things we’ve already been doing to make them more efficient, more community driven and ultimately more profitable.”
According to Marcello Halitzer ’12, Record business manager, the total cost of running the paper each year ranges from $30,000 to $35,000. With the combination of revenue from subscriptions, advertising and donations and the profits from the annual Commencement issue, the Record has collected approximately $15,000 in revenue thus far, Halitzer said, before the profit from the first issue is tallied.
In order to increase subscriptions revenue, the Record pursued new avenues towards making subscribing more accessible. The Record board and business office worked with Rob White, director of Alumni/Development Communications, to e-mail all parents of current College students. In addition, Record staff tabled during First Days, allowing family members to promptly purchase subscriptions in person. According to Halitzer, raising subscriptions have generated approximately $10,000 in revenue.
“We are trying to reach out to those in the Williams community who might want our services but haven’t thought of them or haven’t thought to access them,” Butler said.
In addition to these subscription profits, the remaining amount of the already-accrued revenue has been generated from summer ads and donations; ads from the 2010 Commencement issue contributed roughly $3000 to the amount.
“Our new local outreach has generated interest, but there is a clear inability of local advertisers, even by their own admission, to pay our very competitive prices relative to the other local advertising venues,” Halitzer said. “It’s a tough market, and advertising budgets are frequently the first to go.”
Nevertheless, the Record and the College are optimistic about the paper’s print sustainability in the future.
“I believe the Record provides an invaluable service to the college community, and judging by the percentage of students, faculty and staff that I see reading it each Wednesday, there seems to be merit in having a printed version, even in this online age,” Kolesar said. “I’m confident that there must be a sustainable business model that doesn’t compromise the paper’s editorial independence.”
The Record is looking to extant resources in the Purple Bubble to find ways to be financially sustainable, particularly with the support and advice of alumni and parents and the guiding assistance of the administration. Butler said that the Record will continue to work to up subscriptions and advertising; the Record will also attempt to negotiate for a portion of the Student Activities Tax before the money is allocated to CC.