Letter From the Editor: Recession Hits Daily Cal

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A number of our readers have wondered why they can't find their Daily Californians at their local coffee shop or on their favorite street corner.

The fact is the local economy has been tough on The Daily Californian, Berkeley's completely independent student press. We're a nonprofit, and we rely only on advertising revenue to pay our costs and receive no funding from the university.

And it's been vicious. Local stores have trimmed their budgets as the economy trudges through a recession. National advertisers are reducing their spending dollars. The dot-com spending spree fizzled long, long ago (in dot-com time). Companies that usually spend loads of money recruiting graduating seniors aren't hiring as much.

So we're feeling the burn. You've probably noticed our slim eight-page newspapers for some time.

Despite the tight times, we're still putting all our effort into practicing solid journalism to serve our readers. We were recently honored in the nationally recognized Associated Collegiate Press awards, which named two of our staff writers as writing Stories of the Year.

Our operating budget no longer permits the Daily Cal to pay for travel, so we've had to pitch in and rely on donations to the Daily Californian Education Foundation, which supports student journalism and newspaper management training at UC Berkeley.

Staffers have volunteered pay cuts, we've reduced the size of the newspaper we print on, and we've had to reduce our circulation. Last month, we decided to temporarily re-evaluate our distribution, focusing on areas closer to campus.

And though we have tight news holes, we remain dedicated to being Berkeley's best comprehensive source for news. We're the only Berkeley daily to run articles profiling each City Council and school board candidate, and our commitment to cover the entire local community remains strong.

Our mission remains to train students in all aspects of newspaper production, from reporting, editing, shooting photos, designing, illustrating to programming, managing and selling advertisements. We've had to make deep cuts in our paltry pay-basically lunch money-but we've been able to support the training of the 100 students on our payroll.

With independence comes harsh economic reality. Believe me-we jealously guard our independence. Independence frees newspapers from conflicts of interest, which is essential to a free press.

Other papers have also been feeling the burn. Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle cut its local editions; this year, it ended its evening edition, the Chronicle PM. Another Berkeley newspaper's size has been halved. Urbanview, an Oakland alternative weekly, shut its doors four weeks ago.

I've received calls requesting our paper, and when we are able to increase our circulation, we will restore it. I value the feedback that we've been getting, and we're making a concerted effort to restore circulation to high-demand areas given our limited budget constraints. Please continue to contact us about our distribution, and we'll see if we can make adjustments.

But we can only afford to print a smaller number of papers. As we've been challenged in this budget crunch, I'd like to challenge you, our readers, to support us by doing what you do best-reading the Daily Cal. You can always catch all of the Daily Cal's content online, www.dailycal.org, which is updated in the early morning daily. We're looking into offering first-class mail subscriptions. Consider walking that extra block to pick up a Daily Cal.

In the end, we're all working to serve you, our readers.

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