Fate of UNLV student newspaper in the hands of Board of Regents

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 12:10 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The longstanding source for student journalism at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas could be in jeopardy if the Nevada Board of Regents doesn’t fund the paper, Friday.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal donated $40,000 annually since 2017 and printed the paper at no cost to the Scarlet & Gray Free Press. However, the RJ is cutting some of its funding.

“The RJ can’t be the sole supporter of the Scarlet & Gray. Others, including the university, need to have skin in the game,” RJ executive editor Glenn Cook told FOX5. “Additionally, the cost of newsprint has skyrocketed and is expected to rise even more in 2023. The rising cost of paper has made it impossible for the RJ to continue printing the Scarlet and Gray at no cost.”

Since the paper received word, they would no longer receive the same about of RJ support, the students worked to create a student fee that would sustain the paper financially. The fee will be voted on by the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Friday.

The item being considered is a $0.20/credit hour Student Newspaper Fee. The fee would take effect in Fall 2023, and all 31,000 students at UNLV would pay for the fee which would directly support the paper.

The Scarlet & Gray editor-in-chief said they’re far from the only school newspaper struggling with costs, but it’s an important benefit for students and campuses.

“They’re vital to a thriving college campus,” Editor-In-Chief of UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press Vanessa Booth said. “They create real-world professional experiences. We’re a breeding ground for future journalists. We inform students. We inform the community.”

It’s a small staff of students, with only about 15-20 that get a stipend for their hard work.

The number of student journalists used to be higher, but it’s dwindled because of a lack of funding. Some positions the paper was growing in, like video and audio, had to disband.

Costs include things like printing, website upkeep and that stipend for the staff.

“I’m hopeful that it will go through, but anything can happen,” Booth said. “It’s nerve-wracking just because the future is a bit uncertain.”

Booth is a senior, but there are plenty of underclassmen that would be impacted starting next year, like sophomore Allister Dias.

“I think if they do say no it’s not just a financial statement it’s a symbolic statement,” Dias said. “They’re kind of denying students the ability to make their voices heard through the medium that is the student newspaper.”

The Review-Journal said it will provide the Scarlet & Gray with estimates to print the newspaper at the RJ’s cost, with no profit for the RJ.

“We’d long hoped that the university itself, other media companies and additional supporters would step forward to help augment and stabilize funding for the student newspaper,” Cook said.

The board of regents vote is expected to take place around 12:30 p.m. Friday.