Letters from the Editor: Civil defense

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Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

Some of the finest media outfits in the world are operated for the public interest rather than private. In a small way, that’s what your student media outlets do. The Sun Star and KSUA are both funded by the university public, and both provide news and entertainment that might otherwise be unavailable. It’s a valuable role, and one that I know the staff here (as well as our counterparts down the hall) take great pride in.

But like public media in the U.S. (and unlike counterparts overseas), our funding is subject to political whims and winds. Student media funding is derived from the ASUAF fee, and the allocation is determined by senate actions and ballot initiatives. This is a perilous circumstance which can lead to imbalance and neglect. While KSUA receives adequate funding, the Sun Star receives less than half of their support; those present circumstances could easily reverse or worsen in time.

But there’s a fix for this potential problem and it can be found at our sister campus to the south. At UAA, funding for the student radio station and newspaper is derived from a separate media fee, divided right down the middle. This fee is still student controlled but less subject to the short-term desires of individual administrations, rising and falling with enrollment. When I last spoke to the leadership of our UAA counterparts–KRUA and the Northern Light–they expressed a number of the same concerns and stresses that beleaguer our institutions, but funding was not among them. And while they have a much wider student body to draw from, ultimately they don’t have to worry about their circumstances changing from year to year.

Moving to such a system would benefit our newspaper, yes, but not only in terms of funding alone. Having our funding through such a parallel source would give us greater independence to investigate and report matters of student interest without fear of reprisal through funding cuts.

A self-imposed fee increase is a hard sell–particularly without full-time staff dedicated to messaging–and the latest ASUAF election results reflect this challenge. But where the ASUAF fee is murky and mysterious, a media fee would offer transparency and confidence. It would allow students to draw a straight line from money they pay to services that they enjoy.

Besides: If UAA can do it, why not us?

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