***Clarification: While Johnson told a Bulletin reporter that he and two other members of the Phi Delta Theta are responsible for circulating the petition, the fraternity does not officially endorse it, according to Matt Crome, Phi Delta Theta president.
A petition to cut The Bulletin’s funding by half is circulating through campus, spearheaded by Josh Johnson, senior secondary English education major, and other members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The petition shows the line item allocation for The Bulletin in comparison to the allocation funds of a few other Recognized Student Organizations as a means to justify the cut.
The supporters of the petition said a portion of the paper’s funding should be allocated to other student groups like Up ‘til Dawn.
“I would give every dollar that Phi Delta Theta got in allocations if they could have that to fight childhood cancer,” Johnson said. “I would give all that. I would gladly do that.”
As of Tuesday, the petition had had about 200 signatures. It needs to reach 300 to be brought before ASG.
“If nothing else comes as a result of this, I want people to understand what their student funds go towards and appreciate what their student funds go towards,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that other means of distributing the paper, such as a strictly online edition, may help defer costs and pointed to unread papers around campus as a reason for lowering funding.
From 2009-2010, Johnson was a Bulletin staff member and attended the Spring CMA journalism conference in New York for training.
But Amy Sage Webb, associate professor of English, co-director of Creative Writing and 2012 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, said reducing the print edition is not a viable option to help cut costs.
“People who aren’t working in or with publications don’t see the costs involved…it may seem to outsiders that a publication can lower its press run to save costs, but unless you’re talking about a national circulation, that won’t save much, and in the process the publication is bled to the point that it is unviable,” Webb said.
Benny Bowden, sophomore digital audio recording major, signed the petition but said he did not support the full 50 percent reduction.
“What I like about the fact that they’re doing a petition is that it’s making everybody stop and think. It’s making The Bulletin stop and think. It’s making the students on campus stop and think, and it’s also going to make ASG stop and think,” Bowden said.
Bowden said he did not feel informed enough to make an educated decision about what the reduction should be.
After signing the petition without knowing how much funding is intended to be cut, Haley Jirak, freshman pre-nursing major, said she did not want to support the petition if it would cost students jobs.
President Michael Shonrock said via text message Wednesday afternoon that he “enjoys paging through The Bulletin on Thursdays” and “really appreciates the campus coverage.”
“My office is placing more ads as an effective method to communicate to a larger audience,” Shonrock said in the text.
Rob Catlett, professor of economics, said The Bulletin has served the campus well over the years and feels that the paper covers the most vital issues to students on campus and sometimes some of the less vital information also.
“The Bulletin is a point of pride for this university with a long and rich history,” Webb said. “The publication has consistently grown and improved in the time I’ve been here…I feel lucky that at ESU we have an award-winning, impressive news agent.”
Webb said she takes copies of The Bulletin with her on recruiting events and keeps copies in her office to share with campus visitors.
“The question I have for those who want to cut the funding is why? This newspaper is an award winning publication…I am proud of it and proud of its staff,” Webb said. “(They do) extraordinary things with the funding they have for the print publication, in addition to which they have built an impressive online presence. Those accomplishments have been achieved by people who replaced money with their own time, blood, sweat and tears on behalf of ESU. These are ESU students doing the work. They deserve support.”