Moving Forward

Gather ’round readers, we have some news to share: After over a decade in our current digs, the Guardian is moving. Our perch above Groundwork Books in the Old Student Center is being taken over by the growing Craft Center, relegating this newspaper to the Old Media Lounge a few doors down.

What’s worse, that same office notoriously belonged to our BFFs the Koala before they were exiled to Price Center early this year (so thank Sun God we’re getting new carpet). Working in the same place could be seen as a slap in the face of our integrity, but the move provides a fresh start we’re eager to make the most of (and the new furniture and repairs don’t hurt).

See, the past few years haven’t been easy for the Guardian.  We began a huge initiative in 2010 to restructure the newspaper internally, so that — amongst paying increased student fees and covering protest after protest — we could begin digging ourselves out of pretty sizable hole of our own (read: debt).

The Guardian hasn’t been immune to the decline of print advertising and readership that’s affected most university and professional newspapers. Advertising is down, Twitter is king, more publications are moving online and, in many ways, it’s a luxury to continue producing a print product even twice a week. For us, it’s a luxury that comes at a high cost, given our less-than-stellar financial circumstances.

In other words, yes, the Guardian has been in debt for years, and no, we’re not ashamed, especially given the enormous strides made in the past two years toward alleviating said debt. In Fall Quarter 2011, we cut all non-editor pay — including writers, designers, artists and photographers — to reduce costs to the tune of nearly $30,000 per year. Nearly all the remaining editors have taken a pay cut, and we decreased our average paper size from 16 pages to 12 to reduce print costs. We’ve restructured our staff, overhauled our production process and gone from marathon 6 a.m. uploads (and $75-per-hour late fees after our midnight deadline) to consistently leaving the office before midnight. And with a five-year plan in place and profit going up, the debt continues to shrink.

For those who are interested in logistics: The Guardian is supported by paid advertising solicited via a student advertising team. We receive no money from the Graduate Student Association or A.S. Council — the “Just in Case” ads that somewhat deceptively fill our pages are fill ads, part of our paid contract with A.S. Graphic Studios. We pay graphic designers to design advertisements and set up the pages; in return, they’ll put in some “fill” ads of their choice when we have extra space

Despite these financial missteps, the Guardian has always abided by a staff-drafted constitution and mission statement. As we hold our statement of ideals up against our past performance, we are able measure ourselves against our statement of ideals and see where we have fallen short. 

We have always tried to uphold core journalistic values such as the basic practices of fair and accurate gathering, reporting and interpretation of information. We exercise our right to free speech according to the confines of the First Amendment, but still try to consciously operate with respect to the campus community. Our coverage has received a bevy of California College Media Association awards — most notably for our coverage of the Compton Cookout in 2009-10.

We’ve also made missteps. In the past, bereft of enough institutional memory and solid advertising and editorial policies, we’ve published articles that have divided the campus and even contradicted our own pre-existing advertising and editorial policies. We have welcomed (and will always welcome) constructive criticisms through emails or letters to the editor that we run twice weekly. Ask our art department: Once, we intended to correct the spelling of an artist’s name in our corrections box, but misspelled the artist’s name again. Mistakes happen, and if you let us know, we will fix it. Publicly. We look forward to creating more of a constructive dialogue between us and the constituents we serve — something we have lacked in the past. 

So as much as we’ll miss the stench of beer, Hi Thai and desperation that emanates from every inch of our cherished old office, it’s about time we started over. There will be many Sun Gods ahead of us to collect discarded feathers and dubious smells, years to cultivate various eating utensils from the dining halls and (probably) days before the same air of desperation follows us to our new place.

We’ll be the first to admit that the Guardian has a number of problems, financial and otherwise, but in the true spirit of college journalism, the students are given the power to make or break our product, and that is certainly something to celebrate.