Texas Student Media board meets to address budget shortfalls

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The Texas Student Media Board will meet Friday to discuss and possibly vote on a dramatically reduced budget for the 2013-2014 school year. 

The board operates five media properties including The Daily Texan, The Texas Travesty, Cactus yearbook, Texas Student Television and KVRX.

The proposed budget, submitted by Jalah Goette, Texas Student Media director, includes a reduction in the publication schedule of The Daily Texan, proposing a print schedule of four days a week.  

The proposed budget also includes a 25 percent reduction in student wages for all five media properties, a 25 percent reduction in the tuition reimbursement student managers receive and one less issue of The Texas Travesty. The budget also projects reduced advertising revenue for all media properties “to reflect current advertising trends.”

Goette, a nonvoting board member, said she followed the budget philosophy chosen by the board.

“I did my job, which is what the board asked me to do — to present a budget that is balanced and look at expense cuts.”

She said the board did not direct her to look at other college newspapers for budget models. 

“The board didn’t say, ‘Go out and research 10 colleges and give us your best thinking on a good model for TSM,’” Goette said. “They said, ‘Bring us a budget that’s balanced, that shows cuts to match declines in advertising revenue.’”

If the board does not approve a budget, it will meet again March 22 to do so. 

Seven of the 10 voting members of the board began their terms within the last six months. The voting members have served an average of 7.4 months each. 

Robert Quigley, journalism senior lecturer and board member, said he plans to listen to the discussion at the meeting, but he would not vote to approve the budget proposal in its current form. 

“It feels like we’re throwing our hands up a little bit, saying we just need to cut money without having a plan to replace it or move forward,” Quigley said. “It sends a message that our core product isn’t valued, because we aren’t saying we have a robust new website. Cutting print feels like a step backward, when we should be charging forward as hard as we can.” 

Julia Newtown, board member and advertising senior, said she would vote to approve the proposed budget. 

“There is a lot of hard work and research behind the budget,” Newtown said. “Though cutting print is unfortunate, in the real world, newspapers are declining, and I just think it makes the most sense.” 

Raynaldo Ortiz, a finance and business honors sophomore who began serving on the board in November, said he is undecided about how the board should proceed.

“I think it will depend on how I feel in the moment, and the arguments people present,” Ortiz said. 

The meeting will be broadcast in the Texas Union Theatre to accommodate for the large crowd of guests expected at the meeting.

Published on March 1, 2013 as "Media board will consider budget cuts for next year".