By Janet Dake —
This is the last year The Louisville Cardinal will receive financial support from university administration, which has slashed the newspaper’s income by 40 percent. The long-standing commitment to buy ads, as much as $60,000 just a year ago, will evaporate at the end of this academic year.
On July 25, interim Provost Dale Billingsley wrote to the newspaper that the president and provost’s office would commit to $20,000 in advertising this academic year. “Please note that due to the tight budget situation, this will be the final year for this commitment,” Billingsley wrote.
The Louisville Cardinal was established in 1926, becoming independent from the university in the 1970s. The university has no control over the newspaper’s content, allowing it to be objective. The Cardinal is run by a volunteer board of directors and operates completely separate from U of L.
The Louisville Cardinal Board Chair Jenni Laidman said the paper has traditionally received $40,000 a year in ad sales from the President’s office. In the 1990’s, that amount was augmented by $20,000 from the provost. The funds have been critical to keeping the newspaper afloat.
“If we can’t find more funding, we could become the only school in the ACC without a student paper,” Laidman said.
Despite the potentially detrimental effects of these budget cuts, Laidman is clear that this not the university picking on The Louisville Cardinal. “The university is in crisis,” she said.
The Cardinal board met with Billingsly last December to talk about the impending cuts. Laidman says Billingsley was sympathetic, but explained that the university’s financial situation left no “wiggle room.”
The business manager for The Louisville Cardinal explained how The Cardinal has coped with these cuts. “We’ve had to slash our budget in an unbelievable way,” Lisa Potter said. These include no new equipment, no special training for students, reduced salaries and the number of printed pages reduced. “We’re barebones,” said Potter. “Anything that we provide at the Cardinal for the student experience was going to have to be drastically changed.”
Kyeland Jackson, the Cardinal’s editor-in-chief, said the lost funding erases valuable experience opportunities for students and staff.
“Without that money, journalism conferences, training sessions, speeches and materials will come out of pocket. It’s too much for most college students,” Jackson said. “This newspaper is the only door to journalism for most students, so, I think, this cut hits deep.”
In February, interim president Greg Postel announced that $48 million in expenses will be cut from the university. The Louisville Cardinal is feeling the effects of those cuts.
While $60,000 is a grain of rice in the $48 million overall, it is creating a mountain of issues for the university’s only student newspaper.