U. of South Florida newspaper strives for financial independence

FLORIDA — While complete independence is not currentlyin the cards, The Oracle at the University of SouthFlorida will give up its student-fee funding in an effort to distanceitself from the student government.

The Oracle, which has published for more than35 years, will begin a three-year process this fall to eventuallyend all funding from student fees. Each year the paper will receiveless money, until it eventually receives no funding from the studentgovernment.

"We just feel that it’s better to [go independent], simplybecause we do cover student government activities editorially,and we would just like to have that clean break there," saidMelissa Azevedo, assistant director of student publications.

The newspaper will remain on campus in a university-owned andoperated building, remaining affiliated with the university.

Azevedo said the university and the student government havebeen supportive of the newspaper’s idea to reduce its relianceon student funding, as has the editorial staff.

"I think [the university and the student government] understandthat if something ever did happen where we were in dire straits,I think both the university and the student government would stepup for us," she said.

The Oracle has no big concerns over the changes,Azevedo said, and expects the shift in funding to be smooth.

The paper currently receives about $177,990 in student activityfunds each year. The St. Petersburg Times reported thatunder the new agreement the newspaper will receive $159,000 in2002, $106,000 in 2003, $53,000 in 2004 and no funding by 2005.

The Oracle funds most of its $700,000 budget throughadvertising revenue and will make up the difference through advertisingand money it has been saving.