The Review has been the University of Delaware’s independent student-run newspaper since 1882, but now, because of funding issues, editors are worried the publication is in trouble.
Reserves are dwindling and the paper is taking a hit, even after various budget cuts. With nowhere else to turn, The Review staff is looking to readers, UD alumni, students, professors and members of the university and Newark community for help through a crowdfunding campaign they hope raises nearly $10,000.
Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Quartararo, a senior studying public policy and English, runs the weekly newspaper along with Executive Editor Cady Zuvich, also a senior, who is studying political science and journalism.
Quartararo said The Review’s current financial situation is due to a general decline in print ads since the dawn of the Internet, which created a variety of platforms for advertisers to choose from. For a while, she said, the newspaper was operating off a combination of reserves, print and online ads. The Review receives no assistance from the university, other than the space in Perkins Student Center on Academy Street, where the newsroom is located.
The reserves had been slowly dwindling over time but business was as usual, until about three years ago, when editors at The Review really started to take notice and drastic changes were made to cut expenses.
In May 2013, The Review launched a redesign, reduced payroll and staff and cut circulation by 80 percent from 10,000 copies dispersed on campus to 2,000 copies. At the same time, they also rolled out a new website and boosted social media efforts.
Quartararo said they were trying to stay above water.
“We were taking aggressive actions. I mean, an 80-percent print cut, that’s an aggressive action,” she said.
On Feb. 1, Quartararo and Zuvich launched an online crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $10,000 they say will help The Review with day-to-day operations, long-term goals and spread awareness about the paper.
Zuvich said $2,600 is needed for 26 weeks of newspaper delivery fees, $2,000 will pay for website promotion for one year and $3,500 for printing five issues at $700 per issue. Although printing the paper is a lofty expense, she said she believes there’s value in having a print edition on campus as the newspaper also serves as a learning experience for students. Those interested in journalism can see every step of the newspaper from pitching stories and reporting to photography and layout, she said.
The money will also pay for new photo equipment, new inDesign layout software, alumni events, website hosting for one year and Associated Collegiate Press membership and conference enrollment.
“We want to be able to pay the bills comfortably with a little money left over to explore some new things,” Quartararo said.
As of Wednesday, she said, The Review has raised $5,046 and “a ton of awareness.”
In addition to the money, comments from donors supporting the newspaper have been pouring in all month.
“I’m confident that I wouldn’t have a reporting job now if not for the lessons learned at The Review. It’s a resource worth saving,” one commenter wrote.
“I have The Review to thank for some of my best memories. More than happy to help,” another commenter said.
Quartararo said the response was not what she and Zuvich were expecting.
“Honestly, it’s been flat out inspiring,” she said.
Dan Reimold is a college journalism scholar, writer and assistant professor of journalism at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he also advises The Hawk student newspaper. Along with maintaining his blog, College Media Matters, Reimold is the campus beat columnist for USA Today College.
He sympathized with The Review’s situation but said he encourages the staffers to keep fighting because college newspapers are the “watchdogs” students need.
“It’s incredibly important for student media to retain a voice and serve as a check on administrative power,” he said.
Without a paper like The Review, Reimold said, the university community would miss out on unfiltered hyper-local coverage of campus life, and issues that affect students might be passed over or misunderstood by outside outlets, which he called “adult press.”
Reimold said school newspapers are often a catalyst for change by raising awareness, calling administrators’ bluffs and shining a light on issues. They also serve as a snapshot of what life was like on campus during times of national or international crisis, he said.
“When you invest in your school’s student media, you’re investing in your campus’ first draft of history,” Reimold said.
He said The Review may be struggling, but he’s confident the staffers will dig themselves out and continue to be “one of the best college newspapers in the area.”
“They certainly deserve to be invested in,” he said.
To donate to The Review’s crowdfunding campaign visit: https://udel.givecorps.com/projects/2888-the-review-independent-student-newspaper