Students at UC Berkeley hope nothing too important happens on Tuesdays. In light of the economic downturn, The Daily Californian has nixed its Wednesday print edition for the time being.
“It was an emergency measure so we have enough money to function throughout the year,” Daily Californian editor-in-chief and president Bryan Thomas said. “We got hit hard this year. We had to take some drastic measures.”
Newspapers throughout the country are seeing declines in their print advertising revenue by an average of 16 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the Newspaper Association of America. College newspapers are not immune from the industry-wide phenomenon.
The Columbia Spectator has seen a decline in advertising revenue of roughly 10 percent so far this year, advertising manager Dan Smullyan said.
Daily Pennsylvanian business manager Alexander Raksin noted that the biggest decline in revenue has come this semester, “with the bottom dropping out of the economy.”
As the economy hurts companies that target college students as consumers, national advertisers looking to cut costs have started withholding their business, said Stacia Campbell, general manager of Students Publishing Co., which oversees The Daily Northwestern.
Financial, consulting and other firms that traditionally recruit on college campuses have dried up as a source of revenue as they cut or even eliminate recruiting. Consequently, advertising revenue for college papers continues to decline.
“Last year, a large portion of our ads came from recruiting firms,” Daily Princetonian business manager Yao Wang ’09 said. “We’re not getting as much from the big banks and consulting companies. We’re hit very hard by that.”
Companies commit to hosting an information session for interested students roughly a year in advance but make advertising decisions only a few months prior to the session, Wang explained. As a result, even firms that do come to college campuses don’t necessarily buy advertisements in the campus newspaper.
Stanford Daily business manager and chief operating officer In Ho Lee said she has seen a similar trend. “There’s a huge gap between last fall and this fall. Last fall we had all these recruiters for advertising.”
The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s newspaper, has the potential to be more directly impacted by the economic downturn, as UNC is a public university. In North Carolina, the governor has asked all state universities to cut their budgets by 5 percent.
“Our chancellor is saying every department can decide how they’re going to [cut back],” general manager Kevin Schwartz said, noting that some departments have decided to reduce advertising.
“We will get hit in the spring a little by departmental budget cuts,” he noted.
Even in face of state budget cuts, The Daily Tar Heel is looking at its most prosperous year yet, Schwartz said, explaining that political campaigns spent a great deal of money on media in North Carolina leading up to this month’s election. In addition, the paper is at one of the few schools with the potential to win the NCAA men's basketball championship, which has fueled spending on advertising in previous years, Schwartz explained.
“We have a unique position here to do better than some of our buddies,” Schwartz said.
Similarly, the Yale Daily News has not been forced to make significant cuts in its production.
“We’re lucky in the sense that we still command a strong market in that we are the only means to speak to the Yale community on a daily basis,” editor-in-chief Thomas Kaplan said.
The downturn will not affect the paper’s content, Kaplan added.
“We’re investing as much in our news gathering as we always have,” he said. “It hasn’t hit us [in a manner that] would constrict our journalism in any way.”
Other papers are not as fortunate. The Daily Northwestern, for example, has begun publishing “smaller papers with fewer pages because we don’t have advertising revenue to support our editorial news hole,” Campbell explained. The term “news hole” refers to the physical space in the paper available for content.
Even papers that are not cutting production are re-evaluating their costs.
The Indiana Daily Student has revised its travel budget and is looking at its pay structure, advertising director Amy Swain said. “We’re looking at ways to economize in every area,” she explained.
The Stanford Daily has reacted similarly, cutting additional expenses and retreats for the editorial staff.
“In terms of going for dinners, we’re not doing any of that anymore,” Lee said.
Correction:The original version of this article stated that Daily Tar Heel general manager Kevin Schwartz said advertising in the UNC newspaper is driven by the state having several schools capable of winning the NCAA men's basketball championship. In fact, he said that advertising was driven by the school having the potential to win the championship.