Texas student media board votes to cut staff pay, keep printing schedule

TEXAS — Student staff at the University of Texas’ student newspaper will take a major pay cut next year but the paper will keep its five-day-a-week printing schedule under a budget approved Friday by the Texas Student Media Board.

The budget reduces staff pay and student managers’ tuition reimbursements by 50 percent, said David Verduzco, chairman of the TSM executive committee. The reductions are part of an effort to cut costs to make up for ailing advertising sales.

Last week, The Daily Texan staff and alumni rallied against a proposed budget cut that would have shortened the paper’s print schedule to four-days-per-week.

Editor-in-Chief Susannah Jacob said that she recognizes the wage cut will be “very harmful,” but that she feels the print schedule needed to remain intact.

“I’m glad that they didn’t cut the print edition because I thought that was a financial mistake and also upsetting,” Jacob said, “but I think there’s a big challenge ahead in terms of making sure the Texan, and TSM, is a financially stable institution because what I would hate most of all is for my successors to be in the same position a year from now.”

In an email to the Student Press Law Center Monday, TSM Director Jalah Goette said the organization is going to “dip into reserves to preserve a five-day a week printing cycle.” Goette declined to share the approved budget.

Verduzco said the cuts to student wages and tuition reimbursements were “not something that anybody would have wanted.” However, the student managers were “more than fairly accepting” of the tuition reimbursement cut when they met with the executive committee, he said.

“Most were there more for the educational experience than a paycheck,” Verduzco said. “That’s a generalization…but that was the basis that we ultimately made that decision.”

Doug Warren, the paper’s outgoing editorial adviser, said he believes the board made a good choice.

“They bought some time and I said then and I say now that I think it was a good move,” Warren said. “It was what I suggested and it was a good move because now we’ll have a process, all the interested parties…can all have some input into it and they can figure out exactly what it is they want to do moving forward.”

Warren submitted his resignation the week before the board meeting, effective in June. He originally planned to retire in June 2014, but said he’s leaving sooner because he doesn’t believe it would be beneficial for him to remain as adviser when he “won’t be part of the process going forward.”

Though he did show some anger at Friday’s meeting, it was not directed at the board, he said.

“I’m not mad at the board, I’m frustrated that the outstanding work that the Texan staff has been doing, particularly this year…is being overshadowed by this entire situation and discussion,” Warren said. “I think it’s counterproductive and I just think it’s unfortunate that all the attention is being paid to the financial woes…not to the quality of work that the students are doing.”

By Sara Tirrito, SPLC staff writer. Contact Tirrito by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 124.