The Daily Californian Online

Student Magazines Tackle Funding Challenge

By Anna Widdowson
Contributing Writer
Friday, February 13, 2009
Category: News > University > Student Life

Various student publications are offered on the shelves located on the ground floor of Eshleman Hall outside the publications center.

When student Doreen Bloch started Bare Magazine in summer 2007, she had to fork up close to $1,000 of her own money just to get the project off the ground. Two years later, Berkeley's first fashion magazine is funded entirely by outside sources, including the ASUC and private advertisers.

Bloch, a third-year in the Haas School of Business, said the financial obstacles of starting a publication have been challenging, but not insurmountable.

"It's definitely stressful," Bloch said. "But I feel like as we get bigger and bigger and the quality gets better and better we are finding that more people are sponsoring us."

The motivation behind the magazine was to create more of an entrepreneurial endeavor than a fashion outlet, she added.

Carlos de la Cruz, ASUC academic affairs vice president, said the 35 to 40 student publications incorporated into the ASUC budget last spring received a total of $61,814 for the year.

Publications receive varying amounts depending on their longevity, growth over time and how they propose to use the funds, de la Cruz said.

"We give money to all new student publications, but it's often only $100 or $200, which is not enough to cover the costs of production," de la Cruz said.

The Heuristic Squelch, founded in 1991, received $12,000 this year-by far the most of any student publication, according to de la Cruz.

CalTV and Hardboiled Magazine follow at $7,500 and $3,815, respectively.

Bare, which publishes about four times a year, costs roughly $3,000 to print 600 copies. This year, they received $900 in ASUC funding and relied on outside advertising to make up the extra cost.

Bloch says finding advertisers is particularly difficult given the economy, but the challenge tests the mettle of the publication.

"If we got $12,000 a year we wouldn't even need to advertise," she said. "But not having funding forces you to go out and see if you can attract people."

So far, Bare has garnered more than a dozen advertisers, including the San Francisco Symphony, Downtown Bar and Restaurant on Shattuck Avenue, Vine Street Salon and The Berkeley Sauna on Milvia Street.

Bare also managed to get one of its reporters, senior Fiona Mehta, into a number of designers' shows at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City this weekend, including two shows by UC Berkeley alumni designers, which should boost advertising possibilities, Bloch said.

Still, other student publications on campus struggle to make ends meet.

"Advertising has taken a nosedive this year," said Lisa Xu, editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Political Review. "Our normal method of fundraising-selling concessions at sports events-is time-consuming and often unprofitable, so we are trying to do something new this year which is soliciting donations from Berkeley alumni."

Xu said the review, which received about $2,850 in funding this year, has had to seek out alternative fundraising paths to close the gap on its expected $8,000 to $9,000 annual cost. Xu said she expects they will not have the funds to print color issues this year.

She said that while the ASUC is a useful resource, it should provide more funding to student publications.

"Student publications are really quite representative of the intellectual life of the university as a whole," she noted. "When publications are struggling to pay for printing and have to compromise on the quality of their product, that reflects poorly on the university."


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