By Leo Schafer
At the time when I wrote my first article for The Troubadour, this university was a very different place. Fr. Dave had only just been installed this University’s president, patients had only just begun to feel the symptoms of COVID-19 according to retrospective data, and the Houston Astros were the best team in baseball (OK, that part isn’t THAT different).
After a year’s break, I returned as The Troubadour’s Catholic Values Columnist. Everything—the university, the world, and even myself—was so different from before. I can still remember the joy of picking up a copy of The Troubadour and, for the first time, seeing my article gracing the cover.
After another year’s break, in January 2021, I returned to The Troubadour again, this time as business manager. I became responsible for advertising, payroll, and The Troubadour’s general finances. I have spent a year in this position, making sure that we can operate as usual.
Hence why I am writing to you now: we cannot operate as usual.
I’m telling you all this to provide the context for what happens next, but also to inform you that the decisions which the editorial staff and I have made have not been taken lightly.
The Troubadour has been a labor of love for me and my coworkers. It has been one of the few organizations that has stayed constant from my first semester at the University until my last. I can truly say that I have nothing but good intentions for this newspaper.
As was indicated last print, the paper that you are holding will be the last regular print issue of The Troubadour.
Like I said, this is not a decision that has been made lightly, but one that has been reached after weeks of financial analysis and exploration of alternative options to try to avoid what we have since come to deem as inevitable.
Since I wrote my first article 77 months ago, we have seen incredible changes at all levels of society, including multiple economic recessions and a general rise in the cost of business.
The immediate result of those events on the operation of The Troubadour were increases in the cost of printing and payroll. These increases were not catastrophic and we could handle them as long as budgetary and advertising levels remained constant.
Unfortunately, it takes a certain amount of outside assistance and advertising revenue for The Troubadour to be solvent and that level has not been met since before the pandemic.
The Troubadour would still be able to continue operating as normal if funding remained at the same levels. Unfortunately, that too has become a victim of the times.
All parties involved find themselves in a no-win scenario that has forced difficult changes, but that pressure has also led to innovation and collaboration that would have been impossible otherwise.
The adjustments that we as a newspaper are undergoing echo a greater trend from the past decade concerning the entire print media industry. News is increasingly moving online, and print periodicals have all but disappeared. The Troubadour is merely the latest in a long line of this trend’s victims.
The good news is, we’re not going anywhere. Our writers will still be covering the biggest stories on campus and you will still be able to read their articles online.
In place of the print edition, we will be issuing leaflets, which we call Troub!, that will cover the biggest stories of the week and you’ll be able to find these wherever you usually find the Troubadour now. The first issue of Troub! will be distributed just next week.
In addition to our leaflets, we will be issuing news boards featuring the best and brightest The Troubadour has to offer. We will be posting these boards bimonthly, and you can look for these boards all across campus.
Both the leaflets and news boards will include links to The Troubadour’s website, where you can access all of the stories in our decade-deep archive.
The only constant that we can count on is change. The Troubadour isn’t done changing, nor am I, nor is the University, and nor is our world. Our duty is to respond to those changes as best as we can.
Thank you for reading all these years. Thank you for using The Troubadour as kindling for your bonfires. Thank you for your letters to the editor, constructive criticism and friendly advice. Please, please bear with us as we attempt to maneuver this ocean tanker that we call The Troubadour away from insolvency. We’re doing our best, out of love for what we do.