New Media Rules Limit Funding to $450 Per Quarter

Andrew Oh / Guardian

Media orgs will now be funded no more than $450 per quarter, after A.S. Council voted 11-8-2 to pass new media guidelines at its meeting yesterday night.

In addition to this new funding cap, print media within their first year of publication will only be given up to $200 per quarter. Another provision requires media orgs to raise 5 percent of funds from outside sources, such as advertising, to receive A.S. funding for Spring 2011, and 25 percent from outside sources to receive funding for Fall 2011.

“We decided on the 5-percent number for spring because it’s hard to raise 25 percent so quickly,” Vice President of Finance and Resources Andrew Ang said. “We want the media orgs to be self-sustaining, not 100-percent dependent on A.S. They need to learn to sustain themselves and can’t be babied by A.S.”

One amendment to the original legislation proposed earlier this week allows media orgs to petition for money from the annual operating funds, in addition to the allocated $450. This operating fund sets aside $500 per year for all student orgs, although being awarded the full amount is not guaranteed, Ang said.

“Media operations have never applied for operating funding, but do have the opportunity to do so,” Associate Vice President of Student Orgs Carli Thomas said. “It’ll provide up to $500 added to the quarterly stipend.”

Another funding change is that papers which receive sponsorship from a department or college are eligible for up to $200 per quarter in extra allocations. This money comes from a special $1,000 fund set aside by Thomas for the new sponsorship program, which is meant to encourage papers to seek support in the form of advisers. Ang said colleges and departments can sponsor more than one paper.

Media org representatives — some of which have requested $3,000 per quarter in the past —  claimed the caps will cripple their publications.

During the public input period at the Nov. 3 meeting, MQ Editor in Chief Patrick Reischl said it was upsetting that media orgs were not involved in creating the new guidelines.

“If we’re looking for an actual solution so we don’t have to revisit media funding every year, it’d be nice if we could get a committee that could talk to media orgs, know what it’s like, and get some realistic solutions that will last us a long time,” Reischl said.

Saltman Quarterly media specialist Katie Frehafer said the cap would have far-reaching consequences.

“I’m speaking for myself, the associate dean and the students who work on the journal year-round to make this possible,” she said. “To see a reactionary measure of $450 total per media org per quarter is very disheartening, and it does not seem to be achieving the aims that it’s intended, so I ask that those of you who can vote tonight to ask yourself what you’re voting on.”

During discussion of the legislation, Campuswide Senator Elizabeth Elman proposed several amendments to the original version, all of which failed. One amendment suggested lowering the fundraising threshold — the amount orgs must raise from outside sources to qualify for A.S. funding —from 25 percent to 15 percent or 0 percent.

Elman also suggested changing the quarterly stipend to a yearly stipend. This would change the funding system  to an annual system where media orgs are given an annual set of money and then determine how to use it.

Thomas said this was unfeasible.

“I’d love to do yearly funding,” Thomas said. “But having money roll over from one quarter to another opens up a whole can of worms for other orgs that would give us no accountability for how these orgs are using that funding.”

Elman then suggested a cap of $900 dollars for the full year, but Thomas said that higher caps would mean that some orgs could not be funded.

“As a council we prioritized student org programming over media during the budget meeting,” she said.

California Review Editor in Chief Alec Weisman praised the amendment that allows media orgs to access operating funds, but said the media guidelines were still unfair.

“I’d like to work with student media to push for more transparency,” he said.

Thomas said she would revisit the caps in the spring and adjust caps for 2011-12 according to the carryover, or the money left at the end of the year.

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