By Leo Schafer
As a reader of The Troubadour, I can say that the changes proposed to take effect next week are indefensible.
As the plan’s main architect, I can also say that they are inevitable.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Leo Schafer. I was hired as business manager for The Troubadour just over a year ago and have held that position ever since. As business manager, my duties include ensuring our writers, photographers and editors get paid the correct amount at the correct times, securing advertising for the paper, and ensuring that all of our bills get paid on time.
One responsibility that I undertake which is not explicitly enumerated in my job description, a responsibility shared with the Editor in Chief (EIC) and Assistant Editor (AE), is the overall strategic management of The Troubadour. In normal times, this means discussing the expansion or contraction of the number of pages that the print edition contains, floating ideas for new features, columns, or article types and discovering new revenue streams for The Troubadour.
This past fall, while discussing the direction of The Troubadour for the spring semester, I proposed an across-the-board pay raise, giving all writers and editors their first pay increase in over five years. In investigating this proposal, the EIC, AE, and I discovered something that changed the course of our planning for The Troubadour’s future.
I discovered that The Troubadour will have significantly less funds available to it starting in the Fall 2023 semester.
Immediately, all thoughts of my initial proposal left my head and I started to brainstorm ways that we could reverse this decision—or at the very least deal with it—so The Troubadour could remain in the format that it has been since its inception on February 13, 1947: 76 years ago to the day that I am writing this article.
Unfortunately, I have to say that I came up empty. I operated from the perspective that advertising revenue would remain at the level that it has been at for the past year, a consequence of the current economic situation, and concluded that, after the current fiscal year ends on June 1, The Troubadour would be able to either pay for the paper’s printing or pay our writers and editors, not both.
After weeks of financial analysis and conversation with University administration about The Troubadour’s future, the EIC, AE, and I changed tack and began exploring ways to ensure that The Troubadour would be able to simply survive in some capacity. We decided that the changes taking effect next week made the most sense, fiscally and teleologically.
What has perhaps not been conveyed to the public until now is that these changes, or changes like them, WILL be happening. Whether that change happens now or when the money runs out doesn’t matter. They will be happening.
That is a fact that I have no control over. Neither do you, dear reader, neither does the EIC, nor our faculty advisor, Dr. Wayne Lewis, nor any of the writers or editorial staff. Unless changes could be made that affect the entire university, changes that go far beyond our small corner office in the J.C., The Troubadour in its current format would be insolvent by June 1.
I’ve heard your issues and complaints. I’ve sat in meetings with everyone from the random man on the street to the staff of the library to the Vice President of Personal Vocation, and without exception, each of them has expressed their sorrow at the proposed changes.
Believe me, no one feels worse about this change than I. No one has fought harder to prevent this than myself, our advisor, the EIC, and the AE. In the end, though, my loyalty lies with The Troubadour. Not with the survival of the print edition, but with the survival of the paper. Painful as this is, what is better? A world where The Troubadour looks a little bit different? Or a world with no Troubadour at all?