Monday, December 29, 2014

If No Tree Falls In The Forest Because The University Newspaper Is No Longer In Print, Does Anyone Care?

I wrote several posts this year about local UC Davis' travails regarding its school newspaper, the California Aggie.  Should you not be interested enough to go back and read those previous posts I'll summarize the situation for you here:

     After years of financial mismanagement, the student newspaper at UC Davis (aka Berkeley-lite) was going out of print.  Rather than merely go to an online format, some good statist students decided to try to compel all students to support the paper financially with an additional student fee, notwithstanding the fact that Davis already had the highest student fees in the UC system.  An election was held, the fee passed, but it was shortly thereafter invalidated by a student committee due to "election irregularities".
     In late spring there was talk of a good capitalist solution--a local newspaper would print the Aggie in exchange for advertising revenue.

And that's where our story picks up today:
The longer UC Davis’ student newspaper remains out of print, the more difficult it seems to revive the nearly century-old institution on paper.

The California Aggie stopped printing newspapers in March after years of financial mismanagement, and student leaders have looked for ways to resume circulation ever since. The Aggie’s latest attempt to partner with a local newspaper publisher has fallen flat, with none submitting proposals to print the Aggie twice weekly in exchange for advertising revenue.

The publication continues to post campus news online. But editor-in-chief Muna Sadek said the physical presence of the paper on campus news racks is what makes the institution valuable.

“People use the Aggie as a watchdog, and it serves as a voice for people,” she said. “It’s a public forum.”
I don't understand why it's any less of a public forum because trees aren't cut down, but whatever.
Most recently, in May, the Aggie was close to reaching a pact with the Vacaville Reporter in which the Digital First Media property would print the Aggie in exchange for all advertising revenue. But the Aggie stopped negotiations and decided to pursue an open bidding process at the suggestion of UC Davis officials, according to Sadek.

Sadek, working with university officials, last month put out a “request for proposal” for printing papers and selling advertising. The Aggie is betting that a local publisher will bail out the paper so it can resume printing twice a week by its centennial next year. But no bids have arrived, and the deadline has been extended to Jan. 26.

“I’m hopeful that we will get a handful of great offers,” said Sadek, adding that she had reached out personally to several local publishers, including the Vacaville Reporter and The Sacramento Bee.
I should sell that individual some pixie dust and unicorn farts.

A USC journalism professor is quoted as saying the "paper" should pursue its online presence and include a mobile app--which would be ideal given the target audience's demographic.  But no, that's not where the editor wants to go:
If the contract fails to garner any offers, the future of the Aggie could be in jeopardy, Sadek warned, though she remained optimistic about the prospects of finding a reliable partner.
“I really don’t think this will fail,” Sadek said. “Worst case scenario is we revisit the (student) referendum process.”
To paraphrase Darth Vader, "The liberalism is strong with this one."

Muna, let me be clear:  people don't want your product.  You have lost out in the marketplace.  Accept this decision gracefully and move on.  Stop trying to force people to purchase your product.  Crony capitalism isn't really capitalism, it's more like fascism.  You don't want to be a fascist, do you?


maxutils said...

No, actually, I want a student newspaper. Just like I want a physical copy of the Bee, rather than during articles on line. Te Daily Aggie was always something you could grab and read between classes … on line, doesn't do that. Just like Sports and music programs, this deserves to be funded. Why they can't seem to do it out of their incredibly bloated budget is a mystery to me.

allen (in Michigan) said...

But, but, but, it's reality's responsibility to conform to the righteous and fair demands of the staff!

Editor Sadek, and the other staff members who stepped up and ensured that the campus vote to raise student fees to cover the operation of the newspaper went the right way are only doing what's right for everyone, as determined by themselves. After all, democracy quite often turns in the wrong result so those who enjoy intellectual and moral superiority must sometimes step in.

Or they could be a bunch of whiny, self-indulgent snots who are shocked and dismayed by the ugly realization that the world doesn't revolve around them.

Ellen K said...

As a cost cutting measure, our district now has online school newspapers. Nobody in the school reads them other than the administrators and the staff of the paper. As a kid I was the editor for the school paper. There's something magical about seeing your name in print. Even though the "news" release is mentioned during announcements, so few kids access the online newspaper that it makes it almost meaningless. Frankly the kids get more from the schools twitter feed. Journalism as we know it is dead.

Darren said...

Max, *why should they* when apparently not very many people at the school want the paper?

No one pays extra for the math department, why should people pay *extra* for journalism students to get to see their name in print?

maxutils said...

Oh, so many things. Why should a small number of students vote to pay Henry Kissinger, Hunter S. Thompson, and Stevie Ray vaughn to appear at UCD (as they did, during my four years? Not everyone on campus wanted all of those things (I did) and I'm absolutely positive that they took a loss on SRV. Why should we pay for an arts program? Or sports, including intramurals, which are huge at UCD yet still appeal to very small percentage? it's part of the academic program, it was a very good , paper, and just like student funded radio station KDVS, it allows students interested in that area actual work experience. I don't agree with you that only a small number of people want it; when I was there, if you didn't have a copy by noon, you were pretty much out of luck. Everyone read it. I recognize that number has probably shrunk, but students DID vote to pay an extra fee to support it, only to have an even smaller group overturn the referendum due to completely unspecified 'irregularities.'

Darren said...

That's fancy talk for "they cheated".

YOU may want the paper, it may have been a big deal when Ronald Reagan was president, but times change. To compel students to pay *extra* because *you* want something--how would someone versed in economics describe that? Somehow I don't think Milton Friedman would call that an "optimal solution" or even a "good idea".

maxutils said...

Well, if they cheated, then tell us how they did it. Because no one has put any evidence forward that they did.

The economic theory is that it is a public good, something which makes everyone on the campus better off whether they pay for it or not. We can quibble about whether it meets that requirement or not, and if enough people say no, then it doesn't. But you can say the exact same thing about any other government program which provides benefits which you could enjoy, even if you didn't have to pay for them. Why should I be required to pay for firefighters? My residence has never burned down, and I don't expect it too (knock on wood). If there was deceit in the election that is provable, then the people who wanted to pay for it deserve what they got -- but I believe it won by a considerable margin, and again, no one has explained what the 'improprieties' were … so I'm just as justified in saying that there were improprieties in the council's reversal of the vote.

Darren said...

That no one screamed bloody murder when the cheating was caught tells me that they know they got caught.

YOU think the paper is a public good. The fact that the school's doing just fine without one belies that statement. Heck, some students quoted in the article didn't even know there *was* a paper--they're certainly not doing without.

maxutils said...

I have to disagree with your reasoning for presuming the election was rigged. Not screaming bloody murder is not an admission of guilt; and as one who had to go through the UCD disciplinary process once (I was charged with creating a "hostile living environment" because my roommate had thumbtacked an allegedly sexist drawing, drawn by someone else in the dorm, on our door … and I hadn't taken it down. But I happened to be in the room when the RAs came buy, and I wouldn't rat out either person) I know that the appeal process for this kind of thing is a joke. Your chances of winning after whichever counsel decides against you are almost literally none.

As I said -- it is a reasonable disagreement that this is a public good or not. I can only argue my opinion, as it's not an obvious case. But that's why we have elections.

maxutils said...

I might add, too, that being leaders at Davis, these people who overturned the results are more likely to be liberals than not -- and that's the same group which opposes voter ID laws because they say there is no election fraud...