Texas Student Media nears decision on whether to cut Daily Texan print schedule

The Daily Texan

Eleven members of the Texas Student Media board will make their final decision regarding the future print schedule of The Daily Texan on Friday, although TSM’s advertising revenue proposal was not released until three days before the meeting and remains incomplete.

In a meeting on Feb. 21, board members said they would need more information and time before voting on a final budget. The board directed TSM senior program coordinator C.J. Salgado to prepare an advertising revenue proposal and scheduled an additional meeting for March 7 to review it.

The proposal was not completed by March 7 and the meeting was ultimately canceled because of a lack of quorum.

TSM oversees five properties — The Daily Texan, The Texas Travesty, KVRX, TSTV and the Cactus Yearbook — and has faced increased budget shortfalls as ad revenue declined nationally over the last several years.

According to TSM interim director Frank Serpas’ proposal, he believes cutting The Daily Texan from a daily publication to a weekly publication is the only viable solution to avoid draining TSM reserves completely.

“This is our best guess,” Serpas told the board in the February meeting. “This can be seen as something that moves us forward and is not just a reaction.”

Dave Player, TSM board president and third-year law student, said moving to a weekly printing schedule would not necessarily save money and could result in a loss of ad revenue.

“It’s hard to project what our advertising revenue would be,” Player said. “Without a huge, exhaustive study, which we can not afford, there’s no way to know what the revenue will be without actually pulling the trigger and just putting it out there on the market.”

Player, who has been on the board since September 2012, said he did not believe the canceled meeting to discuss ad revenue would affect any of the board member’s votes. Player and nutrition senior Jason Lu are the only two student voting members who have served on the board for more than a year.

“The only thing it would change is [getting] feedback from the board members,” Player said. “It’s not necessarily a big detriment.”

Player said he has not decided how he will vote in Friday’s meeting because he is waiting to see what ideas the board will introduce for generating revenue.

Salgado said she believes the process needed a considerable amount of time and was done too quickly.

“I think we’ve had this discussion for more than five years, but I think this is the first time we’ve had someone in our position as a leader who has put everything out there for everyone to see, so it is a transparent, open process, and we have an open dialogue,” Salgado said.

Salgado said she does not think the board will vote to change the Texan to a weekly publication.

“It’s history,” Salgado said. “Nobody wants to see it go to weekly, and they’re fighting for it and asking what they can do to keep it going.”

The advertising department has 10 student workers and two professional staff, Salgado said.

Jordan Hawkes, advertising senior and TSM student voting member, said she felt capable of making an informed decision regarding the newspaper’s future even though Salgado’s proposal had not been released.

“I’ve studied media trends for the past two years,” Hawkes said. “Unfortunately, I think that what we’re going to have to do is look at a switch to digital.”

Robert Quigley, journalism lecturer and TSM voting member, said he hopes the board will consider alternatives before drastically cutting the print publication.

“I think there’s an opportunity to increase revenue if the advertising staff is able to boost its ranks and come up with new plans and come up with plans we’re following,” Quigley said. “I think we can turn this around.”

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