Carletonian Staff

Funding the Free Press

By Cassidy Bins ’22

Carletonian staff and whiteboardCarletonian staff and whiteboard Photo: Julian White-Davis ’23

Student staff at the Carletonian, which has been the campus paper of record since 1877, recently came up against a set of economic realities that called its future into question.

Carletonian staff memberCarletonian staff member Photo: Julian White-Davis ’23

At the beginning of spring term 2019, Cannon Valley Printing, which was printing the weekly paper for below-market prices ($285 for 350 copies), closed. “They said that they’d move us to another branch of their system, but costs would dramatically increase [to more than $1,000],” says Sarah Lieberman ’20 (Bethesda, Md.), one of two Carletonian editors-in-chief for the 2018–19 academic year. Until the drastic price increase, the paper was funded by off-campus subscriptions and local ad revenue. “We were generally breaking even year to year,” says Ross Matican ’20 (Tena y, N.J.), the other 2018–19 editor-in-chief, “but just barely.”

Carletonian staff member readingCarletonian staff member reading Photo: Julian White-Davis ’23

When costs tripled, the paper’s all-student staff considered publishing exclusively online but decided that having a physical presence on campus was essential. “Going completely digital would have run counter to the whole Carletonian ethos,” Lieberman says. “Since [1877] the Carleton archives has been collecting articles as a way to keep a record of the school, and to document student voices. The Carletonian started as a printed newspaper and should continue to be a printed newspaper. It’s important to how we operate and what we do.”

Eventually, Lieberman and Matican asked the Carleton Student Association for help. It was a tough decision, since the publication has long taken pride in being totally autonomous. After talking to President Steve Poskanzer, however, the editors concluded that the paper could accept financial assistance without sacrificing its independence or integrity. “We did not want [the college] to have any sort of influence over our reporting,” Matican says. “And we found that our president is a staunch supporter of free speech. He not only believes in the Carletonian’s independence, he took the time to give us advice when we were in a moment of panic.”

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