The University of Louisville announced it will discontinue financial support for The Louisville Cardinal, its student newspaper, by the end of the Spring 2018 semester on July 25.
The Cardinal, which has been independent for 45 years, previously received $40,000 to $60,000 in advertising from the president’s and provost’s office, according to an article the paper put out Sept. 20.
John Karman, a spokesperson for the university, said funding for The Cardinal was cut because the university has been dealing with a budget shortfall.
"We’ve had to prioritize, and we made cuts across the board, and that was one of the things that we had to cut," he said. "This wasn’t sudden news. This was something that the student paper had been warned about for several years, and this will be the last year it will finally be available to them.”
Frank LoMonte, former executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the student newsroom is an irreplaceable learning experience that duplicates a professional workplace, encourages development of leadership skills and is a laboratory for people to learn journalistic skills — which are transferable to a variety of other professions.
"Student-produced news gives the entire community the benefit of a unique insider’s perspective on the campus," he said.
Susan King, dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, said student news organizations are critical platforms that cover activities of a university and are a vital service to the community they serve.
She also said student news organizations provide students with irreplaceable journalism experience and often lead many to be prepared to handle professional positions within editorial settings upon graduation.
LoMonte said there are a handful of programs that have been successful at sustaining themselves independently, but that is getting harder.
"Advertising is much more scarce, because advertisers have Facebook and Google to turn to, and so all news organizations, student and professional, are struggling for revenue," he said. "It’s really the exact wrong time for universities to be withdrawing their financial support."
King said student newspapers may turn from being distributed as a hard product to a digital news operation anyone can access via the web. She said student news organizations shouldn’t need to print to distribute.
King also said The Cardinal is a newspaper independent from the university, and budget cuts shouldn’t destroy the paper's ability to continue to operate since they have merely lost an advertiser rather than all financial support.
One way The Cardinal could increase support would be to charge readers for its products, she said.
“When I look at university newspapers, should all the students be paying for it? Should there be a fee? Maybe, because the student newspaper is a real service to the students," King said. "Should every student be a subscriber once they become a student? That would be one question I’d ask. Is that a model for bringing in money?”
LoMonte said The Cardinal may be able to exist without financial support from the university through advertising, offering other services such as photography and brochure design and hosting events.
"There hasn’t been any magic solution," he said. "And I don’t think there will be one."
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