Westminster College student newspaper funds cut

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 3:27 p.m. CDT

FULTON — The Westminster College student newspaper might be changing how it delivers the news after the Student Government Association's preliminary budget draft recommended cutting the paper's $8,000 annual funding.

Although the budget recommendations aren't final, it is unlikely the newspaper's budget will be restored, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported. The Student Government Association is expected to receive $300,000 from the college this year, which it then allocates to campus groups.

The association has suggested The Columns seek $3,500 to make the paper an online-only publication, discontinuing pay for the adviser and staff.

Another suggestion was to have the newspaper operate as a class, with the adviser earning pay but the staff receiving only class credit, Student Government Association President Will Megl said.

"They didn't used to get paid," Megl said. "If they want to be a journalist, they can do it through school. I understand that they want to be paid."

Carolyn Perry, senior vice president of Westminster and dean of faculty, said the college would not limit the students' choice of stories if The Columns became a class.

"The adviser's role, whether teaching or advising, is to continue that role," Perry said. "We've been committed to this for a long time. The president is highly committed to that model."

The newspaper staff also is studying how to "completely reinvent our business model," perhaps by funding the print edition from advertising costs or going online, said the adviser for The Columns, Maureen Tuthill.

"SGA's budget was cut massively, and they're dealing with some difficult situations, which we completely sympathize with," she said. "We're just trying to figure out a way to stay alive."

The student association's draft budget also drops a $3,500 readership program that supplied newspapers such as The New York Times and USA Today to campus. Money for "concerts and comedy," ''late night programming" and to pay student association staff members remains in the budget.

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