The Stanford Daily and Special Fees, Round 2

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So, there have been a few developments since I last [wrote]( about this matter. The last time I wrote about this on Feb. 26, it was the day after Daily Editor-in-Chief Kamil Dada had published a [statement]( saying, among other things, “I do not wish to run any op-eds that relate to student groups declaring why they deserve special fees or should be on the ballot. Groups could fill our opinion page for weeks well outlasting election season with legitimate cases for why they deserve to be on the ballot and it isn’t The Daily’s role to promote or publicize these groups.”

The next day, the Daily ran both an editorial from their Editorial Board directly supporting the Daily for Special Fees and an letter to the editor from Charlie Hoffman, a longtime chairman of the Stanford Daily Board saying that the student body needs to support it. In my previous piece I focused more on the former as being on potentially shaky ethical grounds, but it is clear that the letter to the editor deserved more consideration. Why? Because emails like this one have been making the rounds on campus listservs:

Every day, the staff at The Stanford Daily works hard to publish timely, informative and compelling content that matters to you.

As all newspapers weather a tough financial climate, The Daily has continued to provide you with 145 issues a year at over 200 locations on campus of quality journalism. Please take 15 seconds to support your student paper.

Our request covers 50% of our total printing costs and only 15% of our total operating expenses. At 8 cents an issue, it’s a deal by any measure.

That’s fine. Groups need to self-promote to get the requisite signatures and as I understand it, as of yesterday, the Daily had gotten only 78% of the signatures they needed (by 4 PM on Friday) to make the ballot without accounting for frauds or duplicates on the petition. But the kicker is that in this email is that there are three separate links to Mr. Hoffman’s letter to the editor. I did not accuse Mr. Hoffman’s op-ed of directly conflicting with with Mr. Dada’s stance against publishing op-eds supporting groups for special fees, but it seems that the Daily’s supporters believe that Mr. Hoffman’s letter is enough of an argument for the Daily’s worthiness in the special fees that it is worth sending around to those unconvinced thus far.

In similar news, the below ad has been appearing on the Daily’s website:

Now, this does not go against anything said in Mr. Dada’s statement as it does not pertain to the editorial board or its reporters, but presumably they are losing revenue that could otherwise be earned by selling that space–money that they are then asking the student body to fund. This is a perennial problem with politicizing funding for anything–campaigning for it becomes an industry unto itself. See this article for a similar case as it applies to the stimulus package (ignore the more hyperbolic language if you like, but it is a real phenomenon).

(t does seem like an unfair use of resources (this isn’t Italy!) for the Daily to use its position as the media leader on campus strictly for a financial gain that it is asking students to fund. On the other hand, desperate times call for desperate measures, and if this is what the Daily needs to survive (that seems unlikely as they claim special fees will only cover 15% of their budget), then that’s their call.

Speaking as a student, I would rather the Daily use its space on its website for profit-generating ads so that their special fees request might be lower next time around.

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If anyone from the Daily wants to offer an explanation as to why they are sending an email asking for special fees linking to an op-ed in their paper (I understand the original source of the email was not someone who writes for the Daily), and how that is consistent with the portion of Mr. Dada’s statement, or how using its website to lobby for student funding is appropriate and what ethical considerations went into that decision, I’m sure we’d all be glad to hear it.

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As groups across campus struggle to find signatures for their Special Fees petitions, one group faces a more esoteric dilemma: Sigma Nu has discovered that,

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