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Lots of people at Berkeley need long, reassuring hugs. Also maybe some chocolates.

Near the top of that list of sorrow are the ladies and gentlemen trying to distribute some sort of publication on campus. Poor suckers.

And not only because they're being given the cold shoulder by thousands of students with little interest in Satellite or Hardboiled or even the Heuristic Squelch. One of the nation's formerly premier literary universities has been starved for funds for awhile now. If UC Berkeley magazines and newspapers were a person, they'd be a poor factory worker trying to make enough money to pay for his child's leukemia treatments. For this month.

Printing is expensive. A single print run can cost more than $1,000. And that's using the filthy paper made by mixing old newspapers and used pornography with orphan slaves who got too close to the giant paper vats. Higher quality paper and color covers-which only a few like the Squelch and Berkeley Political Review can afford-add hundreds of dollars to the cost.

And it should come as no surprise that friendly gnomes aren't leaving pots o' gold for lucky editors in chief to find. Publications get a pathetic 3 percent of the ASUC's budget, forcing 20 publications to scramble for a mere $50,000, only $10,000 more then the ASUC pays its Secretariat alone.

Alternative sources of funding? Government-wise, there are ASUC Mini-grants, where publications compete with every other group on campus for a slice of $12,000. The university also distributes publication grants, but those are geared toward start-up publications. Which is another axe in the ol' groin: Berkeley is a vicious advertising market, close to driving even established publications like the Daily Cal into financial turmoil.

Compare UC Berkeley to rich private schools like Stanford. The Squelch recently broke into the offices of Stanford's humor magazine, the Chaparral. Once through the window, it was surrounded by a massive office funded by alumni, endowments and the flow of a rich advertising market. No one here has that.

But money can be solved: A bigger problem, long-term, is in creating a publication that appeals to anything more than a niche on UC Berkeley's massive, reasonably diverse campus. Only the Squelch and Daily Cal can make any claim to campuswide distribution, and they have the uniting, cross-cultural influences of crosswords and penis jokes. Other publications, mainly the cultural publications like Onyx Express, are comfortable being the voices of their respective groups.

But publications like Satellite, trying to find a readership besides its Wheeler-dwelling humanities core group, struggle to find a formula that can get to a wider group.

"We hand it to people, they see that it isn't the Squelch and hand it back," lamented Satellite editor Michael Rochmes. New publications have a dual dilemma: They need to publish something new and provocative to be read but have to print quickly and cheaply just to stay alive. That's not an easy combination.

On top of this sad, weeping heap of woes, pierced by nails and misery, is the struggle to find people still interested in writing. Writing is, in essence, a lot of time and work exposed to ridicule by thousands of people.

There's also the tricky task of recruiting a 1500 SAT, 4.3 GPA Regent scholar to beg Beyond the Wall to place a $75 ad or beg a printer to give him a 2 percent student discount.

Sad, sorry stuff! But there's at least one quick fix: Open the spigots of ASUC funding, and let the beautiful cash flow. The Squelch magically managed to break the tap, and students have reaped the benefits of wonderful color covers and non-gross paper. If that doesn't resuscitate the poor publications, then perhaps they simply can't compete. Local familiarity and topics may not be able to compete against the skill and packaging of online and national publications.

But we might as well give them a chance.

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