Student Senate: advertising plan will keep The Spectator in print

Story by Nate Beck, Staff Writer

Student Senate voted 28-2 Monday to buy $18,000 worth of Spectator advertising ­— money that will keep The Spectator in print through next year.

The ad buy will allow The Spectator to stay in print through next year, although The Spectator is expected to continue to accumulate debt, Jennifer Homeyer, The Spectator business manager said.

Spectator staff and CJ department faculty met with student senators before the Organized Activities Budget passed, to work out a way that The Spectator could receive $18,000 next year.

Less than six hours prior to Monday’s meeting, Senate presented a plan to buy ad space.  Eighteen thousand dollars will buy about a page and a half of print ads and an ad on spectatornews.com each week.

The ad plan passed after an amendment to fund an online-only version of The Spectator failed to pass with a 17-13 vote.

Information and Technology Commission Director Christian Paese proposed an amendment Monday to pull all funding for The Spectator in exchange for ITC’s help in revamping its website.

The amendment was pulled before a vote.

Paese said ITC can help The Spectator make needed innovations online.

“(The Spectator) needs to keep up with the times,” Paese said.  “(ITC) can help do whatever we need to do to make sure The Spectator website is the best that it can be to attract readers.”

Eau Claire English Professor David Jones gets most of his national news online from sites like  Washingtonpost.com. He said he gets his local news mainly in print.

Jones said although he gets most of his news online, an online-only issue of The Spectator wouldn’t give as much practical experience to students as both a print and online edition would.

“There is more that can be done,” Jones said.  “It’s a process of finding the most relevant professional experience for students.”

Spectatornews.com attracts 200-300 unique views per week.  Advertisers want to see at least 5,000 views a week to commit to online ad space, Homeyer said.

The Spectator’s ad revenue has been decreasing consistently each semester. The Spectator brought in $44,000 in ad revenue in the fall of 2009.  At the end of February of this year, ad profits totaled just $27,900, Homeyer said.

She also said The Spectator is on track to add about $8,000 to its current $24,000 budget deficit.

Student Senate Chief of Staff Tyrel Zich said The Spectator did not try hard enough to find funds outside Student Senate.  The Spectator should be funded with Blugold Commitment money, Zich said.

“Blugold Commitment should be explored next fall, if (The Spectator doesn’t) they shouldn’t be given any money.”

Student Body Vice President Patrick Martin said The Spectator should cut salaries to stay afloat.

“The Spectator is the only item that generates more than we give them,” Martin said during open session.  “Salaries are the only sticking point. When an organization is on the verge of complete financial collapse, salaries need to be cut.”

The Spectator functioned on ad revenue alone prior to the 2010 school year. Homeyer said ad revenue fell when the economy went into recession, and The Spectator has had to rely on segregated fees to fill in gaps.

In other senate news

Senate voted to reform the vacancies committee, amend Senate bylaws and fund earth week events.

Senate appointed Sarah Tyrell as director of Student Services Commission after going into a closed session.

The Mascot Committee introduced a bill Monday requesting about $9,000 for two Blugold bird costumes.  The costumes are estimated to last 4-5 years.

The costumes would be funded through a surplus in the Special Reserve account.

If the bill passes next week University Centers will reimburse the cost of one of the costumes.  The cost to students would total around half of the request in the bill.