UC Merced’s student-run news source The Prodigy has lost its funding and is likely to disband without new dollars, according to its editor.
This month the Associated Students of UC Merced, the school’s student government, denied the news staff’s request for funding, according to editor CC Gillespie.
The 19-year-old said The Prodigy was asking for $2,320 for the next semester but the student government decided against funding it.
“It’s very likely we’re going to run into issues keeping the website up for the fall semester,” she said.
Members of the student government were not immediately available for comment.
The student-run news sources stopped producing a print version several years ago, Gillespie said, and does not pay any of its 10 regular staffers. Its costs are in website upkeep, equipment and supplies, according to a breakdown from the editor, who is also a political science major.
“We aren’t even being given our chance to prove ourselves,” she said.
Disbanding the news source would make UC Merced unique in the University of California system. The other schools have much larger news teams and pay some of the staffers, according to Gillespie.
The news industry in general has struggled ever since advertising revenue plummeted for many print products in the digital age. The industry has hemorrhaged jobs as companies try to figure out how to make money off of their online products.
The student government’s Internal Vice President Jason Braun told the Daily Californian the news source appeared to not be producing enough content to support the funding.
He said many elected students are open-minded to figuring out a solution for The Prodigy. “Any student newspaper is crucial to student government,” Braun said. “Without a newspaper, we really can’t put officials in check — that’s why I really believe we need an operating Prodigy.”
The funding for The Prodigy is decided by the student government and school administrators have no decision-making power, according to UC Merced spokesperson James Leonard. Some staff do work as advisers for the student journalists.
Gillespie said The Prodigy has operated on dwindling shoestring budgets for many years. It does not sell advertising on the website. She said staffers have begun to look at ways to save money, including going with a cheaper website host.
She said some alumni have expressed a desire to donate to The Prodigy, noting some of them know what it’s like to work for The Prodigy without being paid.
“We do it because we love doing it,” she said about the volunteer staff. “We’re just doing it because we care about representing our campus and community.”