Texas Student Media board acknowledges financial hardships, plans action for March

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The Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees acknowledged its financial hardships but declined to take specific actions at its meeting on Friday. The board also certified candidates for The Daily Texan’s upcoming editor-in-chief election. 

The Texas Student Media board oversees the operation of The Daily Texan, Cactus Yearbook, KVRX Radio, Texas Student Television and The Texas Travesty.

Jalah Goette, director of Texas Student Media, presented new financial data to the board and said the finalized board budget in March needed to include drastic changes for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

“The model we have now is not sustainable, given the financial situation we’re facing,” Goette said. “The media world is changing and we need to evolve, too.” 

Although members discussed potential solutions, the board did not settle on a specific course of action. David Verduzco, accounting lecturer and board member, said it was impractical to depend on rates of ad revenue increasing in the future. 

“We can’t just stick our heads in the sand and hope to earn more revenue,” Verduzco said. “That’s what we did this year.” 

The Daily Texan has faced a sharp decline in advertising revenue, dropping by almost 50 percent in December 2012 compared with December 2011, according to budget documents submitted to the TSM board, and one-third of the way into the fiscal year, only 27 percent of the amount of ad revenue in the 2012-2013 budget has been earned.     

Daily Texan Adviser Doug Warren said the board might consider hiring a professional staff member to look at marketing strategies and development and another to work full-time on the Daily Texan website. 

Verduzco said this wasn’t out of the question. 

“We can spend money to make money, but we don’t have much money left,” he said. 

The board also certified journalism sophomore Bobby Blanchard and Laura Wright, Plan II honors and biology junior, as candidates for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan for the 2013-2014 academic year. Originally, the board did not approve Wright’s application because she did not meet two of the requirements to run for the position. Wright appealed directly to the board, which then approved her but extended the application deadline.

Further complications arose when it was discovered that the qualifications listed on the editor-in-chief application did not match the qualifications listed in official Texas Student Media policy documents. 

The editor-in-chief position is elected by the University student body. Blanchard and Wright are Texan staff members currently on a leave of absence, as required by the Texas Student Media bylaws.

Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president for student affairs, said she also wanted the board to consider reducing the level of detail included in the minutes published online after each board meeting.

“I don’t know if you want that much detail on your website all the time,” Hammat said. “To personally identify folks is something previous boards had not expressed interest in, and for now I would advise everyone that anything you say can be personally attributed to you.”

Goette agreed to table the approved minutes pending further revision.

Published on February 4, 2013 as "TSM wants new financial strategies". 

This story was edited for accuracy after its original post.