The Bridge to Nowhere
The Bridge to Nowhere
The Bridge was set to solicit articles from students and staff, which the campus editors would edit for accuracy and grammar before posting them to the website. Complications arose with the immediate resignation of the Rock Creek editor leaving two vacant positions in the staff roster, including an unfilled position for the Southeast editor. Nevertheless, The Bridge posted articles on time and engaged students with topics including a stabbing at Cascade, a visit to Sylvania by Senator Jeff Merkley, and a new process for faculty evaluation that year.
An assessment of the first year’s operations acknowledged weaknesses. The $7,000 budget, which was not enough to sufficiently staff the newspaper like the pre-shutdown Bridge was the biggest issue. Much can be said about the funding issues, but the annual obligation to request funding and recruit staff as well as a lack of administrative support limited working hours to an insufficient 5 hours a week.
College campuses across Oregon support their student newspapers in a number of ways: some offer partial or full tuition waivers to their newspaper staff, others offer wages or sales commissions on ad revenue, while others still offer funding from student activity fees in order to cover operating costs. Lane Community College is the standard-bearer in this regard. In 2011 it offered its student journalists wages, allocated $82,439 in general funds for advisory costs, reserved $2.75 per student from its student activity fee for operating costs at a total of $66,433, and generated $20,436 in advertising revenues for their newspaper’s annual budget. The Bridge did not ascertain how much money in each of these categories LCC allocates for The Torch for the 2017-2018 school year.
The Bridge’s robust budget proposal of 2012 requested additional funding for anticipated equipment, training, and operating costs through a 5-10 cent increase of the student activity fee. 10 cents would have generated $97,000 per annum, and 5 cents approximately $48,500. A 2-year 10-cent increase, would have allowed The Bridge to remain free of a conflict of interest with the ASPCC, which funded it.
Additionally, the increase would’ve allowed for: more work hours for staff, summer-term issues, a subscription to the Associated Press newswire service for access to national news of interest to students, a publicity budget, and a salary for a paid advisor with experience in journalism and who could also serve as the financial agent for the newspaper rather than placing the burden on the ASPCC/DSC. After the second year, the revenue from the student activity would have been reduced by half.
Despite the best efforts of students and faculty, the college Deans of Students (Drs. Linda Reisser and Craig Kolins, Heather Lang, and Narce Rodriguez) rejected the budget proposal citing that “several reasons the most prevalent are that unknowns have not been resolved such as, the proposal does not have: administrative oversight or a solidified budget.” Regarding the proposal process and the subsequent rejection, faculty advisor Tony Greiner stated.
“The negative response was flimsy and poorly reported.”
He added that an unnamed source told him that one of the Deans on the budget proposal panel stated in response to a comment about a Bridge article
“I thought we killed that.”
Based on the “flimsy reasons for turning it down”, and the Dean’s later comment Greiner concluded that the Deans of Students were instructed to reject the proposal “by some higher administrator.” He went on to serve as the faculty advisor for The Bridge until Winter 2017.
The Bridge continues operating with a $10,000 budget from DSC (down from $11,000 last year), however, the above-cited issues from 2012 remain with no solutions on the horizon.