A few years ago, the staff of the student magazine La Gente de
Aztlan printed 18,000 copies of each 32-page issue per quarter.

Today, La Gente editor Jose Manuel Santillana, a fourth-year
Chicano studies student, said his staff can only print 1,000 copies
of each issue, which has diminished in size to 16 pages.

This decrease in production parallels a rise in financial
challenges across the board that are affecting the student staff,
some of whom are no longer getting stipends for their work and are
finding the magazine production a difficult process.

Editors from the feminist magazine Fem, the Jewish magazine
Ha’Am, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
publication OutWrite say declining funds for Student Media have
caused difficulties for their publications.

“We’re in an uncertain financial situation right
now,” Santillana said. “We need to get the right amount
of advertising or we might not exist next year.”

The root of the problem lies in the decrease in advertising for
the Daily Bruin, which is also a part of Student Media.

In past years, student magazines have received financial support
from the Daily Bruin advertising revenues. Now, with a drop in
Daily Bruin advertising, there is a greater need for the magazines
to find independent funding.

“Mostly we raise money by advertising, but the pressure
has become more strict with regard to raising the appropriate
amount of ad money,” said Michael Moskovitz, the editor of
Ha’Am and a third-year physiological science student.
“We need to hit the threshold or else we can’t print
the magazine.”

Most student magazines are facing an increase in cost and a
decrease in production.

Last year, OutWrite was able to run 5,000 copies of each issue
on $1,100, but this year the publication must raise $1,500 to print
only 1,000 copies of the same length. Other student publications
are relying on outside grants, private funding, and fundraising
events in order to gain funds.

La Gente receives funds partially from fundraising activities.
Each quarter Santillana and a few staff members sell tacos outside
of Campbell Hall in the hopes of generating money for their
upcoming issue.

Fem magazine received a mixture of advertising and private
grants for its publication this year.

“It just so happened that a company placed a $2,000 ad for
us, so that helped a lot. We also got a grant from Campus Progress,
a foundation that funds liberal publications,” said Fem
editor Michelle Stover, a third-year sociology and women’s
studies student.

But Stover said the magazine’s luck may not be consistent,
as in past years Fem was unable to achieve its desired goal of
three issues a year, with one coming out each quarter.

“Last year, we only published twice because there just
wasn’t enough funding,” Stover said. “So getting
that advertising for this year was sort of a fluke. I don’t
see that happening a lot in the future.”

The loss of Student Media revenue also means a loss of quarterly
stipends for students working at the publications.

“Last year we got a $1,000 stipend from Student Media per
issue, which we used to pay our staff, but this year we
haven’t received anything,” said Kim Bathker, editor of
OutWrite and a fourth-year neuroscience student. “Now we
can’t pay our staff unless we have surplus money, which is
rare.”

Without the incentive of receiving stipends, OutWrite’s
staff has demonstrated a loss of commitment and interest in
maintaining the magazine, Bathker said.

“I’m concerned about the future of OutWrite because
not many people will be encouraged to come back without stipends.
It’s hard to foster loyalty without money incentives,”
Bathker said.

One of the tentative solutions for the future of Student Media
is a fee referendum, which if put on the ballot and passed would
increase student fees by a margin of $2 to $5 in the next few years
in order to provide another source of funding for student
magazines.

But at the Communications Board meeting Monday night, Arvli
Ward, the Student Media director, presented a new budget structure,
which did not project the incorporation of the fee referendum.

Instead, it outlined a series of cuts in spending for the
2006-2007 Student Media budget and presented a new model for the
production of the Daily Bruin.

The fate of the magazines is not an easy thing to determine, as
generating funds can be a complex process.

“It’s just a nasty cycle,” Moskovitz said.
“You need money to put out a good issue but need a good issue
to get advertising. It’s a bit of a challenge.”