SIGNAL IN THE RED¹

By M. POLIZZO

SFB recently retreated to an off-campus location, as they do every spring, to determine the following year’s SAF (Student Activities Fund) budget. This is the time when each club and organization (including SFB) is given their fiscal horoscope: requests of each group are voted on item-by-item; allotments are allotted; the lines are drawn. Ideally, respective budgets are proportional to group size, spending history, and the benefits derived through said groups.

Ideally.

We are temped to qualify this process “logical,” yet there was a snag along the way. The Signal walked into the budget meeting $14,000 in debt, printing costs having been left to build over recent years, and the retreat ended with the promise of an SFB-funded (i.e. student-funded) bailout. Score! With each issue costing $1,120 per week, The Signal and SFB have seemingly embraced an indigenously New Jerseyan ethos: if it can’t be fixed, fix it; and if it still can’t be fixed, throw money at it.

The reasoning for the bailout is fundamentally, and in paraphrase, this: “If you take The Signal away, when only a small group is responsible for these budgetary indiscretions, then you harm the whole campus unfairly.” This article’s author fully agrees with some implications of this justification. Indeed, the editorial boards are to be held accountable; the enervation of printed-word media is regrettable; and (remember paragraph one?), the organization in question assumedly provides a benefit tangible to the TCNJ community.

The question is begged. Is The Signal worth $14,000 to maintain? If it costs approximately $14,000 to render The Signal worthless (quite literally, worth $0), has then this organization provided any real benefit? The Signal’s problem: a significant lack of advertising revenue.²

The proposed solution: a payment plan. For each issue of The Signal printed, SFB would purchase eight full-page advertisements at $140 each. Advertising is the lifeblood of print media, but an artificial infusion by SFB will not save this bleeder in the long run – remember, the treatment of a symptom does not address its cause.

1: Information for article provided by anonymous source and the SFB budget record; minutes were not kept during the budget retreat.

2: Usually, a decreased demand for a product (advertising space) results in a decreased price and a decreased supply. But, when the price of a copy of The Signal is $0, how do the economics work? Shouldn’t the supply drop further in order to compensate, or their advertising rates drastically fall? Remember, it is the advertisers’ demand that counts here, not the students’.

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