Berkeley High Newspaper in Financial Straits

By Rio Bauce
Thursday August 14, 2008 - 08:48:00 AM

Staff members of the Berkeley High Jacket, a student-run newspaper, an-nounced last week that they don’t have enough money to produce the paper for the upcoming school year. The Jacket receives no funding from the Berkeley Unified School District—its revenue comes only from subscriptions, advertising and donations. The staff is composed of eighteen student editors and about twenty reporters.  

Stephanie Ratcliff, the Jacket’s current business manager, said that because of the rising costs of printing and mailing, combined with the state of the economy, the newspaper only has enough money to print papers through one-third of the school year. 

“It costs $800 to print a regular issue,” said Ratcliff. “However, when we have extra pages, or run special editions, such as Spirit Week, Senior Pages, or the April Fool’s edition, it can cost as much as $1,000 for an issue. So, for the year, we need between $12,000–$16,000, and as of now, we only have $4,500. So, we are looking to the community to raise between $8,000 and $10,000.” 

The Jacket typically prints 2,600 copies of each issue, 200-250 of which are distributed to subscribers, while the remaining are distributed free-of-cost to students. There are very few advertisers, not more than five or six in an issue. 

Kacey Berry, former business manager for the Jacket, said that she has recommended trying to get more advertising. 

“My advice has been to get more subscribers, more advertisers and to raise prices appropriately,” said Berry, who graduated from BHS in June and plans to take a year off before attending college in Maine. “Before I took over, we didn’t do a lot of advertising, and it wasn’t a great source of revenue. We made a conscious effort. though, and I think they need to continue to use advertising as a source of revenue.” 

Ratcliff said that the Jacket has been employing various fundraising measures, including increasing subscription prices and advertising prices, and beginning a general fundraising drive.  

“I’ve called about seventy local businesses,” Ratcliff said. “We are trying to involve the community as much as we can.” 

Editor-In-Chief Megan Winkleman said that journalism events and auctions to raise money were planned for the next few months. 

“We want to have an event with Berkeley writers and reporters who will donate their time to speak to people in the community at an event benefitting the newspaper,” said Winkleman. “People in the audience can hear them speak, ask questions. It will be a fun event. We are also thinking about holding a silent auction at that event. It will probably happen in mid- to late fall.” 

`Ratcliff also mentioned the possibility of poetry slams. 

When she was asked if the Jacket has plans to solicit the school district for funds, the answer was “hopefully not.” 

“The Jacket has prided itself on being completely financially independent from Berkeley High,” he said. “This is a student-run newspaper and we want to remain independent.” 

Berry said that a variety of things had made financial hardships for the newspaper. 

“I think that I noticed these things even before school started last year,” said Berry. “We were getting less subscribers, since a lot of subscribers were parents whose kids graduated that year. Printing costs also went up two or three times this past year, as well as the price of stamps. So these financial problems came from a variety of factors.”