Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Rent is high!
The Daily Clog refers to The Daily Planet's begging for funds as "kind of pathetic." In case you haven't heard because you're part of the problem, newspapers are going belly up around the country. I don't think The Daily Planet was ever profitable, and has been living off the O'Malleys' money since it was restarted, though I'm not sure if that's still the case. Asking for money a la NPR isn't all that ridiculous, in my opinion, especially considering the ideological goals Becky O'Malley espouses. Getting a bunch of donations from community members probably wouldn't create a huge issue with reporting objectivity, though it may.
Still, the Daily Cal is the last entity in the universe I would expect to take even the mildly condescending attitude that Ruby Elizabeth Lee does. The Daily Cal hasn't even been paying its already-subsidized rent. For those of you unfamiliar with The Daily Cal's relationship with the Store Operations Board and the ASUC, The Daily Cal rents its Eshleman offices from the ASUC (or, perhaps more literally, the ASUC Auxiliary) under agreements approved by the Store Operations Board. In years past, ASUC officials have tried to use this as leverage to influence The Daily Cal's editorial decisions and punish it for negative coverage. The Daily Cal had done a decent job in maintaining its independence through these fights, but they haven't shown the same independence when it comes to financial problems.
From the SOB reports to the ASUC Senate over the past semester:
The Daily Cal's General Manager, Editor-in-Chief, and two members of their Board of Directors, spoke to the Store Operations Board about the current fiscal crisis facing the newspaper and made a proposal for the ASUC to assist them through the crisis. The Board took their presentation very seriously, asked thoughtful questions about their current financial status and the prospects for the future. Then the Board went into closed session to discuss what if any terms they would want in an amendment with the Daily Cal. I was directed to take those terms, once agreed upon in open session, and to put them into a proposal. The bottom line is that the ASUC feels it has a vested interest in protecting one of the symbols of student independence on the campus, and had made an offer to the DC that would assist them through the term of their current contract, May of 2009.The irony is not subtle. One does not typically protect symbols of independence by bailing them out. This is doubly troubling as covering the ASUC and the university (which runs the ASUC Auxiliary) is a significant part of The Daily Cal's job, and taking handouts shreds their credibility as "independent."
Regarding business matters, the Auxiliary issued a letter to the Daily Cal regarding the terms and conditions the Store Operations Board approved for the paper. He wasn't sure the paper will be prepared to accept the SOB's terms. The idea was to keep the ASUC whole and not just give away the value for the rent that the Daily Cal would like to see student government forego.October 8:
The ASUC issued a letter to the Daily Californian offering terms to them regarding their request for relief from rent for the month of October and the remainder of the fiscal year.
Regarding the Daily Californian, the ASUC issued a letter to the paper. The Daily Californian has requested relief from rent for October and for the remainder of the fiscal year, which would amount to over $40,000. The Auxiliary offered terms to the paper in response to the paper's proposal, but the Daily Cal has still not responded.November 5:
Regarding the Daily Cal's proposal, Mr. Permaul said the Daily Cal has a proposal pending with the SOB to forego approximately $24,000 in rent the paper would have paid to the ASUC, along with not paying its maintenance and utility payments per week of almost $1,300. These are real reductions to the ASUC's revenues at that time when other ASUC revenues from their small businesses have been affected. This will be one issue they'll discuss on the SOB meeting on November 18. It was important for Senators to realize that this loss of revenue will have an actual, substantive affect. The Auxiliary had to pay utilities and maintenance. Since the Auxiliary won't be getting those dollars, the money for that will come out of whatever carryforward money the ASUC will use next year.December 3:
I presented to the General Manager of the Daily Cal the Store Operations Board proposal to relieve them of rent for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Board has asked the Daily Cal to sign a note with interest for the repayment of the deferred funds, as well as to increase coverage of the ASUC in its on-line edition. We hope to hear back from the Daily Cal before Friday.And there's the highlight: The SOB has asked for changes to The Daily Cal's coverage. It may seem innocuous, but the symbols are all present: The ASUC believes that it is in its best interest to have The Daily Cal covering it more, and will provide them subsidies to do so. How credible does that leave The Daily Cal's claims of independence?
Anyway, minutes are still haphazard, so I don't have any new news of what The Daily Cal said to that offer. Note that I saw little to no noisemaking by Senators during these reports.
The SOB is in a tough spot, too. They can't really kick The Daily Cal out, since they probably won't be able to find anything to replace it with. They won't get the money either way. Both sides are pretty much in position to play another game of chicken. I hope The Daily Cal at least puts its foot down by refusing any agreement which includes an editorial aspect.
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