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Budget cuts push UCLA newsmagazines to move online

By Norma Reyes

Nov. 7, 2014 1:28 a.m.

This article was updated at 12:46 p.m. on Nov. 26.

Many UCLA newsmagazines have stopped printing and are moving entirely online in response to limited funding and print readership.

The student-run news outlets include La Gente, Al-Talib, OutWrite, Ha’Am, and FEM, which aim to serve the Latino, Muslim, queer, Jewish and women’s rights activist communities at UCLA, respectively.

The newsmagazines are controlled by UCLA Student Media, an umbrella organization that also incorporates the Daily Bruin, UCLAradio.com and BruinLife yearbook. Student Media failed to break even by tens of thousands of dollars in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to Communications Board financial statements.

Arvli Ward, director of UCLA Student Media, said the department has encouraged the magazines to stop printing papers in response to a declining print readership and growing preference to online publications.

“Digital (publishing) offers a wealth of opportunities and new ways to impact people’s lives,” Ward said.

Most of the magazine staff members said they are content with the idea of going entirely online, but members of La Gente are determined to stay in print despite struggling with financial problems.

Though La Gente already publishes online, Madelinn Ornelas, editor in chief of La Gente, said she and her staff think it is important for the magazine to continue printing because it honors the people who started the magazine during the Chicano movement in the early 1970s.

The third-year English student added that the magazine showcases the different art pieces, photographs and designs of the La Gente staff, who aims to promote their members’ heritage.

“(La Gente) grew from the Chicano movement,” Ornelas said. “It has served as a platform for the Latino voice.”

Certain UCLA newsmagazines are funded by Generation Progress, an organization that supports student activism and journalism projects through grants.

Although the organization has funded the newsmagazines for ten years, it has decided to cut funds significantly this year.

La Gente needs about $1,400 to print its quarterly issues, but Generation Progress only gave them $700 this year.

Members of Generation Progress could not be reached for comment about the specifics of the funding and the reasons for the cuts by press time.

Despite budget cuts, the La Gente staff is set on printing at least once this quarter, she said. On Oct. 23, La Gente staff started a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money to remain in print, and have raised about $140 so far.

Ha’Am editor in chief Tessa Nath, a fourth-year English student, said her staff is also committed to continue printing.

“People psychologically feel work is more valuable if they are able to share a concrete (paper),” Nath said. “They attach prestige to something that can be handed out.”

Nath said the magazine received about $800 from Generation Progress this year, one fourth of what they have received in the past, and that she was told they will receive no more funds in the future.

She added the magazine staff will print their fall quarter issue later this month, and that she aims to work with other organizations such as Hillel at UCLA and the Center for Jewish Studies to raise funds and continue printing.

Though other publications on campus are also experiencing financial struggles, many of their staff said they felt content with going entirely online.

FEM magazine, which was started in 1973 to promote the empowerment of women’s and human rights, has been entirely online since last year.

Although FEM Editor in Chief Angelina Murphy said one of the main reasons behind the change was a lack of money, she hopes the site will increase online readership.

“We have the potential to be very important in people’s lives, to empower women,” the fourth-year American literature and culture and gender studies student said.

While FEM magazine made the decision to go solely online last year, Murphy said staff members would still like to raise money for new equipment and advertising.

Other student publications on campus, such as Al-Talib and OutWrite, also went entirely digital this year.

Al-Talib Editor in Chief Colleen Casabal, a fifth-year African and Middle Eastern studies student, said the magazine members are happy with the change, but she still wants to publish at least once a year and deliver the issues to prisons to serve incarcerated Muslim communities.

Casabal said she hopes the online shift can help broaden the magazine’s content to serve Muslim and non-Muslim college-aged communities.

Members of OutWrite magazine, UCLA’s queer newsmagazine, said they are also happy with the transition.

“Print isn’t sustainable anymore. Online is much more flexible,” said OutWrite Editor in Chief Gabe Hongsdusit, a fourth-year linguistics and Chinese student.

Hongsdusit said he thinks readers get their information in different ways now, such as through social media. Going online can increase the volume of and improve a magazine’s content, he said.

OutWrite staffers said they plan to print a compendium issue at the end of every year highlighting their best content.

Ward said the magazines are welcome to continue printing if they can fund themselves.

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