Creating the Sun Star you deserve

Heather Bryant / Editor-in -Chief
Oct. 25, 2011

The Sun Star budget hasn’t changed in decades. The paper once received 15 percent of the ASUAF fee, (currently $35 per student per semester). We now receive seven percent. It works out to about $2.45 per student, per semester. That’s the cost of one copy of the Sunday Anchorage Daily News in Fairbanks. For that, students receive 26 printed issues of the paper, online updates, free classified ads and coverage of everything from Nanook sports to your student government.

The rest of the budget comes from ad sales. Jordan Shilling, our ad manager, has done a great job this semester. We’ve had the most sales in recent memory. But with the economy in its current state and our employees changing each year, we can’t always count on success like Jordan’s.

Last year was a difficult year for The Sun Star, and we’ve recovered but we need to make long-term plans. Currently, The Sun Star is financially sound. Our bills are paid and we adhere to the budget like a raven to McDonald’s French fries. But our budget is modest. In order to keep the paper viable, we can’t cover everything we’d like to cover.

On a regular basis, I receive emails about story ideas, press releases or letters to the editor. People often ask “why didn’t you cover this?” or “will you cover this event?” I wish we could cover everything. And I want to know what’s most important to you.

Over the coming weeks we’ll start a conversation about the future of the Sun Star. A student newspaper can and should be a cornerstone of life on a university campus. It is the avenue by which the most students have their voices heard.

Last year, approximately 140 students were quoted in The Sun Star. Add in faculty and staff and the total jumps to 347. So far this year, approximately 70 students have had a chance to be heard because of the Sun Star.

Last week, we released a full investigation into the deaths of 12 muskoxen who died of malnutrition. Stories this complicated need in-depth coverage to tease the details apart. Stories such as these in-depth investigations are important to understand the full story about how something like that can happen and how it is dealt with.

The upcoming salary database will make the salaries of all staff and faculty at UAF, and eventually the entire UA system, available. Salaries make up more than half of the system’s budget and we have a right to know who makes what and why. It is The Sun Star’s duty to report on where our university spends it’s money, but we can only provide more investigative reporting when we have the funds to do so.

This is your student newspaper, and I want you to be a part of the discussion.

The publication board for The Sun Star and I are looking at our options going forward so that we can provide you with the newspaper that you deserve.

The option we are pursuing is separating The Sun Star from ASUAF. Currently we are bound by a governance agreement that funds the paper with seven percent of the ASUAF fee and places two ASUAF members on the publication board.

The Sun Star should be an independent newspaper, with an independent publication board.

We will need your support over the next few weeks to make this a reality. UAF deserves an independent newspaper with a solid foundation in order to serve your interests.  With more funding, we could finally cover more of your events. We could provide the multimedia experience that defines the world of journalism in this era. We could bring to light the inner workings of the university. You asked if we could cover more – we want to cover more, too.

Heather Bryant

The Sun Star

(907) 474-5078

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3 Responses

  1. Josie says:

    What is the % of students reading the paper?? Where are the short fun blurbs…. the whole newspaper has a negative tone to it… we need money, we need to know where staff paychecks come from, muskox ‘investigation’ (when it has already been done in the newminer….
    try using what you got to create a newspaper that students are excited to read!

  2. Dude says:

    If you want an independent paper why don’t you go ahead and reject the ASUAF funding and independently obtain cash to run the paper. Too difficult? I figured. Pretty easy to be a revolutionary when someone else is paying the bills.

  3. Joe says:

    Totally agree with you man. Go to a pay-per-copy service so people who actually want to read your paper are the ones footing the bill.

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