UBC Okanagan: The campus Phoenix Newspaper moves to Rutland

Financial distress and student politics force student newspaper into managing editor's apartment

A muddle of student politics and a $10,000 deficit has The Phoenix Newspaper operating out of the managing editor’s apartment for the next couple of months.

Spacial constraints on campus have forced some difficult decisions of late and the newspaper, which is in the hole by an eighth of its total budget, has been booted from the student union-run space—for now.

“I find creative solutions to things all the time, so I said give me two or three months and come back to me with a clear plan, and the ability to operate it efficiently, and I’ll try to find some space,” said Rocky Kim, UBCO Student Union president.

The debacle started when the newspaper, which operates as a limb of the student union and does not control its own finances, other than to allocate and budget for costs from the money it’s given by the student union and the dollars earned from selling advertising, began running a deficit.

Thinking there might be a solution in their rental agreement with the student union, the editor-in-chief, who handles the editorial content of the paper, but none of the financial responsibilities, did the research to suss out how much money most newspapers pay to rent space on campus. By and large, it was none, whereas The Phoenix pays out $8,000 or 10 per cent of its $80,000 budget.

Presenting this information to the student union, the managing editor and editor-in-chief were negotiating a deal to forgo payment in exchange for providing free, unbiased moderation services for student political events and advertising in the paper worth, a service worth roughly $18,000, annually, if they were to sell the advertising space. There is disagreement on the specifics of the deal, but at the end of the day, it was never signed and a referendum to have students contribute more money toward on-campus media failed.

“It is on us in a lot of ways that we didn’t aggressively follow the agreement up because we were told, by the student union, that we had this, that it wasn’t a major concern,” said Alex Eastman, Phoenix managing editor.

Kim contends the referendum results would have rendered the memorandum of understanding null and void anyway.

For now, the newspaper is operating out of Eastman’s Rutland apartment.

Both Kim and Eastman have vowed to keep it afloat and find it space on campus.

This year, for the first time, the newspaper has competition for the student funds providing its budget as a new on-campus radio station will also be pitching for funding support.

Twitter: @jaswrites

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