“Whatshername”’s basic point is that, in two ways, The Argus is unique compared to a selection of other student newspapers. First, it compensates its editors-in-chief. Secondly, The Argus is a bi-weekly newspaper, unlike the weekly papers she cites. Overall, she questions the necessity of printing twice a week, asks why members of the staff are compensated, and wonders whether this is a proper use of student funds.
As “Whatshername” wrote, this year, the Argus initially received $40,000 from the SBC. We used this money primarily for printing and office supplies. Ultimately, we only needed $25,000 to cover these basic costs. We had agreed to return $15,000 to the SBC, but ultimately they only requested $10,000, which we gave to them in March. We saved the majority of the remaining $5,000, which will help us become more financially independent next year. We receive roughly $10,000 to $12,000 per year in advertising revenue, and this year, we used this money to compensate certain members of our staff, who we believe have earned it through their sustained time commitment to the newspaper. In general, we have always compensated key members of our staff, especially those who routinely work past midnight. We give a $250 stipend to the editors-in-chief, who regularly stay at the office from 4:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. twice a week.
In other words, The Argus is primarily paying students for their work with its own money, not with the student body’s. The SBC, then, is essentially paying for our printing costs. We should also mention that we have undertaken lengthy negotiations to ensure that our budget is efficient, and, in the last few years, we have taken substantial budget cuts.
With this said, we are wondering what the real impetus is behind “Whatshername”’s post. Theoretically, it is a critique of the way The Argus uses student funds. The top of the post is, after all, adorned by a giant, rainbow-colored dollar sign. But why critique our funding now? After reading through her post a few times, it seems clear to us that it is a generalized assault on The Argus charading as a “dialogue”-promoting investigative report on the paper’s finances.
“Whatshername,” in one of her many asides, discusses the “haterade” that may be leveled against her in response to her post, entitled “Let’s Talk About the Argus.” “In researching and writing this post I have been well aware of the haterade (love that word) that could be thrown my way,” she writes. “Ultimately, I have decided that it doesn’t matter how much crap I get for this post.”
We have one question: Is it really so brave and controversial to criticize The Argus? We are not delusional. We know that people love to make fun of us.
Beyond this, the timing of this post is especially savvy. The Argus embarrassed itself with the recent and inexcusable falsehoods that were published about positive HIV tests. Surely, many students are questioning the competence of The Argus editorial staff at the moment. We don’t blame them. It was an awful mistake.
Despite these errors (and we admit that there have been others in the past), we feel the need to defend The Argus as an institution. The Argus was founded in 1868, and is the oldest bi-weekly college newspaper in the country. We have no plans to change that. Publishing twice a week allows us to print the news while it is still news. Our peer institutions may do it differently, but that is no reason to say their way is better.
As we’ve discussed, and as “Whatshername” has pointed out: “your student newspaper is not free.” There is no denying this. We appreciate the funds that the SBC generously allocates us every year. Let us give some examples of how we try to earn them.
When someone is assaulted on campus, we call Public Safety and attempt to interview the victim(s). When the endowment loses hundreds of millions of dollars, as it did recently, we harangue the folks at North College for as much information as they will give us. Every week, an Argus reporter attends the WSA meeting and takes notes. Every other week, we meet with President Roth around his conference table in South College, and question him on a wide range of campus issues. When Wesleyan sues its own Chief Investment Officer behind closed doors, we go down to Middletown Superior Court and pay the clerk for the legal complaint.
These are some of the ways The Argus reports on campus life. We won’t bore you with the rest. Our main point is to question why “Whatshername” is suddenly trying to initiate a campus debate about The Argus’ finances. There are certainly questions about recent content-related errors in the newspaper that are worth discussing. But they appear in this piece as little more than a justification for an unjustified attack on the way The Argus is run.
We believe Wesleying can and should criticize The Argus when criticism is warranted. In this case, it was not.