Budgets, Money and More

Running a small business, being a full time student, working a part time job and still having a social life might not sound do-able to some, but this is what being on staff at the Jacket Journal is like year after year.

A small budget, a small space for producing the newspaper and a steep learning curve that students operate on are just a few of the struggles staff members face each semester.

Every five months Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, the advisor for The Jacket Journal, and the current student- Editor-in-Chief will hire a new staff. There are a few students who will stay on staff throughout the year — and move positions as they become juniors and seniors — but unlike city newspapers, students graduate which leaves positions to be filled. Essentially, the paper forms a brand new staff each semester, which comes with training, new procedures and new budgets.

The Jacket Journal runs on two budgets. The first budget is based on General Activity Fee monies, which is money allotted to the newspaper from the GAF committee. Each year it becomes a bigger task in receiving money from this committee with budget cuts in university systems as a whole, in addition to organizations’ operating costs continually increasing.

Dr. David Wolf, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts said “organizations are not allowed to spend in the hole anymore.” With a 40 percent budget decrease in GAF overall monies this year “there will be no extra money to dig the organizations out” by the end of the year.

The GAF budget for the Jacket Journal is strictly used for producing the hard copies of the paper, updating the equipment each semester to design the newspapers, the online server for the converged media site BHSUmedia.com and getting equipment for students to use — such as recording devices, reporter pads, press passes and more. The GAF budget has never been used to pay for any wages of the Jacket Journal employees.

The second budget that the Jacket Journal uses is for staff payment. This money comes from advertising and fundraising by students involved with the paper. Staff members and the advertising representative go out to businesses throughout the Black Hills selling ads, while outreach coordinators create new ways of fundraising. Out of every ten businesses that the advertising representative reaches, one business will give an unsure answer of maybe advertising with the paper. Out of every fifteen businesses that the advertising representative talks to, only one will buy an ad from us. The rep spends hours following up with businesses, as well.

Where gathering ads and fundraising was a relatively easy task in the early 2000s, today’s financial challenges have affected the news industry as a whole — especially with universities. Drops in ad purchases have been an issue with institutions across the Midwest. And with lower ad placements, higher prices and even greater operating costs, running a small business in the news industry brings a lot of difficult situations.

“Newspaper ads were down 7.3 percent in 2011 — almost $2 billion and has been on the decline ever since,” according to Poynter.org. But with every $25 lost in print ad revenue, new digital ad revenue newspapers increase one dollar.

Many campuses have a newspaper, and in some cases — multiple newspapers. For some students and faculty, the value of having this hardcopy edition is not apparent. But without it, the reputation and the credibility of a mass communication and journalism program would be affected as well as the entire student body.
Without a valuable, high profile, award-winning news organization like the Jacket Journal, BHSU students would not get the full journalistic experience. Staff and faculty would not be highlighted as often and community members would be lacking the relationships with the university and all to contribute to BHSU’s success as an institution.

The newspaper is an asset to BHSU as a liberal arts institution. Yes, there are challenges that are faced by students of juggling school, work, life and being on staff with the Jacket Journal — but it is those challenges that make and transforms students into young professionals. The experience gained from working on the news team is larger than a line on a rsum, it is preparation for the field of mass communication, the student organization and the entire student body.