Rebuttals

As students take a critical look at the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative and ask important questions regarding why their $2 is worth it, a number of inaccuracies and misperceptions have arisen. This page is dedicated to addressing them and further clarifying what the initiative is all about.

You can visit our FAQ page for responses to some of the most common questions we have heard. If you have a question that you cannot find addressed on either of these pages, feel free to email the Daily Cal’s editor in chief and president directly at [email protected]

Statement: All other student publications have to share a small amount of funding while the Daily Cal’s budget is much larger.
Rebuttal: The Daily Cal generates all of its revenue from advertisements and donations, and receives no funds from the ASUC or the university. Almost all student publications on campus are ASUC-funded, and are free to earn advertising revenue and solicit donations. The Daily Cal does not receive funds from the student government because that would compromise our journalistic independence (imagine the NY Times being funded by the US government). V.O.I.C.E. funds would go straight to the Daily Cal, without the ASUC or administration being able to intercept them if they don’t like what students write about them.

Almost every college in the nation has a student newspaper that is much larger than other publications. Running a daily student newspaper is not cheap.

Statement: The Daily Californian is a professionally run business that sees V.O.I.C.E. as an opportunity to take students’ funds to build the business.
Rebuttal: The editor in chief and president leads The Daily Californian. “Editor in chief” means puts the position at the top of the editorial hierarchy. “President” holds the top of the business hierarchy. We hire professionals to work for us and help add continuity and professional experience, just as the ASUC has the ASUC Auxiliary. Our board of directors helps us with long-term strategy and is composed of myself, another elected student and Daily Cal alumni with journalism experience.
    At the end of his remarks at the Daily Cal forum, Kevin Cohen, representing the No on V.O.I.C.E. effort, said that Daily Cal Board of Director meeting minutes revealed that the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative would help “grow our business.” Yes, that is true. V.O.I.C.E. will keep us from making debilitating cuts that will unravel the progress we have made (click here to learn about our progress).
    The Daily Cal is not a business that seeks to make money. It is a non-profit with a mission to train students, inform the community and offer a voice for students. The Daily Cal’s budget does not break even, yet alone make a profit, and members of our board of directors have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to keep the paper afloat, for the benefit of student staff members and our readers.
The Daily Cal’s policies forbid any non-student from working in our editorial operation, and our bylaws stipulate that students are to hold as many high-up positions in our business operations as possible. Our sales manager, marketing manager, distribution manager, tech manager, online manager and fundraising manager are all students.
    Our newspaper is for and by students. We would accept nothing less.

Statement: ASUC publications must apply for and receive their funds from the ASUC student government. The Daily Cal should as well.
Rebuttal: In order for a newspaper to be truly independent and capable of being critical of institutions, it must be independent from themespecially the government. The Daily Cal was governed by the ASUC and a board of university officials for most of its existence, until 1971 when its board tried to fire three of its editors after it issued an editorial they didn’t like. A newspaper is never truly independent unless it is financially independent, especially from the government. In order to remain hard-hitting in our ASUC coverage, we must not have a governance model that allows the ASUC to affect funding to the media that covers it. Imagine if the US government could do that to the New York Times.

Statement: The V.O.I.C.E. Initiative creates a monopoly of information.
Rebuttal: The Daily Cal will not expand rapidly as a result of V.O.I.C.E., but rather be able to see through the improvements it has already made and build upon them without facing debilitating cuts. Our budget is about $850,000, and V.O.I.C.E. will provide only $93,800 we need to fill our $200,000 deficit. We will make up the rest of our budget deficit ourselves. Most college campuses have many media outlets but one student newspaper. A student newspaper with a staff of 200 can put out a better paper than 10 student newspapers, each with a staff of 20. We have 10 editorial departments (news, arts, sports, opinion, design, photo, night, blog, multimedia, development) and five business departments (sales, finance, production, marketing, online, tech). Printing 10,000 papers and running a daily news website is not easy.
    Further, the Daily Cal is not any one interest or group of people. The editor in chief and president changes every year. Yes, it is one newspaper and has been for 141 years. But its staff is remarkably different year-after-year as students graduate or move on to other groups. If you want to improve the Daily Cal’s content or help it craft a sustainable business model, we encourage you to join us.

Statement: The Daily Cal has wasted a considerable amount of time and energy on V.O.I.C.E. that should have gone to rework its internal operations.
Rebuttal: This is an easy one. The V.O.I.C.E. Initiative is only one of many avenues the Daily Cal is pursuing in order to boost revenue. We have substantially reworked our internal operations, and a business staff member who worked for us at this time last year would not be able to relate to our current, better structure that has delivered measurable results (more information is here). We are often asked what our Plan B is. We are currently executing with full force Plans A through Z. We cannot afford to leave anything on the table.

Statement: The Daily Californian has not provided any meaningful information as to why it has accrued such a significant deficit.
Rebuttal: We wish we could lay out for you exactly what portion of our deficit was caused by the drop in classified advertisements due to Craigslist, what part was caused by the lagging economy, what part was caused by businesses moving online and what part was caused by other factors. That’s unfortunately not possible, as these causes are all intertwined and related in a very complex way.
    What is certain, however, is that the more than 30 percent decline in revenue is unprecedented, and we made no changes that could explain such a steep decline. What did happen is that journalism industry profits plummeted. Our archives, which are open to the public, show many pages of classified ads prior to the crisis. The fact that we are independent financially should leave no surprise that changes in the economy and journalism industry affect us. Do we have room to improve despite the crisis? Absolutely, and we’re working hard to do that. But it won’t fill a $200,000 gap.

Statement: If the Daily Cal screws up, it should have to deal with it.
Rebuttal: Agreed. And for 40 years since our independence, we’ve taken on the resulting financial impact of any mistakes we’ve made. But the notion that the journalism crisis is a Daily Cal “screw up” is simply inaccurate. It is unlikely that all student newspapers in the nation, all of which have seen plummeting revenue, have faced bad management all at the same time.

Statement: The Daily Cal has not made clear commitments to operational changes that will improve its business.
Rebuttal: Yes, we have. If you have any questions, email me at [email protected]

Statement: The Daily Cal wants to take student money and use it to grow.
Rebuttal: 
This is one of the most inaccurate claims. The Daily Cal has spent 4-5 years talking non-stop about cuts and deficits. The notion that students will be flooded with newspapers and that the Daily Cal will have too much money is about as far-fetched as it gets. The paper made about $650,000 in its last fiscal year (2010-11), nowhere close to the $1,037,000 it made in 2007 (graphs and figures are here). Especially since the Daily Cal’s expenses stand at $850,00 now after significant cuts, the notion that a $93,800 additional amount from fees will allow us to expand is simply completely inaccurate.

Statement: From opposition op-ed: Although we recognize that The Daily Californian is an important feature of the Cal publications landscape, it is not the only publication worthy of support.
Rebuttal: Unlike most of the student newspapers in the nation that are seeking student fee support, the Daily Cal sought to loop publications into the fee so that they could benefit as well. After many townhall meetings and discussions at the start of the spring semester, members of publications would not move on with the partnership unless the Daily Cal allowed its funds to fall under the purview of the ASUC, which would compromise our independence. The Daily Cal then sought to pursue the initiative by itself. Yet recommendations that the publications made during the process led to significant changes in the language that are still in the final proposal.
    But most importantly, the Daily Cal is one of very few student publications that does not receive funding from the university or ASUC. That leaves advertising and donations as our sole sources of revenue. We will continue earning $760,000 of our $850,000 budget. We are asking students to help fund $90,000 of the remaining amount for the next five years, as we weather the storm of the extremely volatile journalism industry.

Statement: The Daily Cal has not been transparent about its budget.
Rebuttal: We have released our financial information and invited members of the public with further questions to email our editor in chief and president at [email protected] with any questions.