The University of Missouri-St. Louis plans to forgive its student newspaper's $40,000 debt and create a new funding source after the student body cut the paper's funding.
"We basically get to start over fresh," Sharon Pruitt, the editor in chief at The Current, tells Daily RFT.
Plans for the paper's future aren't final. Pruitt and her staff are preparing a budget to submit to UMSL chancellor Tom George. In exchange for a more stable funding source, The Current would bring on staff advisors, including a business advisor, and offer scholarships to student reporters instead of salaries.
"We're trying to agree to something that would give students a student voice on campus and an outstanding learning environment," Bob Samples, associate vice chancellor, tells Daily RFT. "There are a lot of people who want the paper to be viable. At this point, everybody found the current structure wasn't viable."
The newspaper's previous editors racked up $40,000 in debt between 2009 and 2011, according to The Current. Since then, the paper has operated in the black.
The Current relied on a subsidy from the Student Activities Budget Committee to print the paper. Pruitt asked for nearly $30,000 to be allocated from student activity fees, but the committee completely dropped the paper's 2014-'15 budget to $0.
"For this to happen despite all the progress we've made on decreasing the debt is heartbreaking," Pruitt says. "None of us want to see the paper disappear, but we have no way to publish if we do not receive funding."
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Pruitt appealed the student government's decision to defund the paper, but the committee denied the appeal.
The student-run newspaper has operated since 1966, three years after the founding of the university itself, even though the school does not have a journalism program. Alumni include former St. Louis mayor Vince Schoemehl, sports reporter Frank Cusumano and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel.
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