People often ask us about the business behind the newspaper. Where do we get our money? Is it hard? We’re taught in our media classes that the newspaper industry is dying. Is that true for college papers, too?
To start from the top, we are different from University-Sponsored Organizations in that the majority of our budget comes from advertising revenue and subscriptions, while the rest comes from the Student Activity Fee. However, this is not enough to fund the costs of payroll, equipment, printing, staff development and more. That is why we have staff members who spend hours and hours every week soliciting businesses and organizations on and off campus for advertisements.
Unfortunately, due to the changing market, advertisers are turning away from college newspapers as a vehicle for advertising, because they don’t think that it helps them gain customers. The truth is that advertising does work, but only if readers keep it working by patronizing the businesses that advertise with us. College newspapers offer a unique perspective for community members to engage with news, information and insights they can’t get anywhere else. Print advertising cuts through the noise of emails and posters and social media posts.
Even on campus, it has become difficult to solicit student groups to advertise with us. Last year, Student Government Association allocated $10,000 to the Trinitonian for helping Registered Student Organizations advertise with us. This helped smaller organizations that can’t afford to pay for advertising get the word out about their events. However, SGA chose not to grant us money for RSOs this year, meaning student groups won’t be able to get their messages across campus as easily.
These challenges are leading every news publication in the country to adapt, innovate or shut down. News publications across the country are continuing to see a decline in readership and ad revenue, forcing newsrooms to lay off staff and shut down. Several publications are cutting print and switching to online-only to cut down on the cost of printing. Yes, it’s true that everyone and anyone can read the entire paper online, but being a digital publication has its own costs, and online advertisements don’t bring in nearly enough revenue to cover the other expenses. Some publications like The New York Times have a paywall, but that could discourage potential readers in our college market. Besides that, picking up a print paper has become a habit for our readers, which we can tell from our high pick-up rates last year.
The Trinitonian has made several efforts to innovate and adapt. We’ve expanded our digital platform over the past few years, now creating online-exclusive content, on top of videos and even podcasts. We’ve come out of our basement on Friday mornings to pass out the paper in Coates Student Center. We cover SGA meetings every week, have added a weekly sports scoreboard and have created an arts and entertainment calendar. We’re printing shorter issues to cut down on printing costs.
We truly believe that we are the only platform that can offer you an authentic, unbiased look at our campus culture and climate. As an entirely student-led staff, we can assure that we are producing content that reflects the questions and concerns our peers have. We believe that free expression and free inquiry are hallmarks of a liberal arts education, and that having a student-led newspaper allows us to practice citizenship.
We can only do what we do with the help of you, readers. If you support our mission, please patronize our advertisers and tell them you saw their ad in the Trinitonian. Parents and alumni can subscribe to get the Trinitonian to their mailbox. You can email email@example.com to arrange to have a copy of the paper mailed to your house with $35 for bulk or $65 for first class shipping.
As the 1869 Challenge approaches, consider donating directly to the Trinitonian. You can go to givingday.trinity.edu when the page goes live on Oct. 10 and choose “Other Student Activities” and then “Trinitonian.” More information about this year is Trinitonian along with alumni accounts is available online.