In the face of serious financial shortfalls, the Texas Student Media board discussed a budget proposal that would include reducing The Daily Texan to a weekly, rather than daily, printing schedule at its meeting Friday. A final vote to determine the budget is scheduled for next month.
Texas Student Media, known as TSM, oversees five properties — The Daily Texan, The Texas Travesty, KVRX, TSTV and the Cactus Yearbook — and has faced increased budget shortfalls as ad revenue declined nationally over the last several years.
Dave Player, TSM board president and third-year law student, said moving to a weekly paper would not necessarily improve funding for the paper because reduced print costs would be paired with reduced ability to run advertisements.
“There’s some scenarios where, if we go weekly, we don’t actually save money because of that loss of ad revenue,” Player said.
TSM senior program coordinator C.J. Salgado said she could not predict if the number of active advertising clients would stay the same with a transition to a weekly publication.
“We have no way of knowing how the markets are going to respond,” Player said. “There are a lot of unknowns.”
In recommendations submitted before the meeting, TSM interim director Frank Serpas said he believes cutting print is the only viable solution to avoid draining TSM reserves completely.
“My position is this is the most knowable outcome amongst many unknowable things,” Serpas said. “In my estimation, we have already sort of lost this game.”
Last year, the TSM board voted not to reduce the print schedule by, instead, reducing student manager tuition reimbursements and cutting The Daily Texan’s staff salary budget by 50 percent.
“This scrutiny has also brought renewed awareness of the question of whether TSM’s students must be paid a minimum hourly wage,” Serpas said.
Editor-in-Chief Laura Wright said she did not believe cutting salaries further was a viable option.
“Daily Texan staffers get paid enough to buy three sandwiches a week, and they often work 40-60 hours a week,” Wright said.
In January, the University moved TSM under the domain of the Moody College of Communication from the Division of Student Affairs. Multiple members of the administration, including President William Powers Jr., Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication and Gage Paine, vice president of student affairs, denied making the final decision to move the TSM properties.
There were no representatives from the Moody College of Communication present at the meeting Friday. At a TSM board meeting he attended in September, Hart said he was not eager for TSM properties to move under Moody’s domain.
“[TSM] is not something that I lusted for,” Hart said in January.