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Another campus paper’s budget axed after student leader named in ‘crime roundup’

It will save students 50 cents a semester

The Daily Nebraskan depends on a student referendum each election to receive fee allocations that fund the University of Nebraska paper.

The most recent vote was 62 percent in favor of funding the paper, the highest in at least four years, according to Editor-in-Chief Lani Hanson.

So the staff is shocked that the paper’s budget was just axed by 15 percent – and suspect that the cut is related to a member of the fee committee being named in a “crime roundup.”

The Student Press Law Center reports that by a single vote Wednesday, the student senate failed to override the student president’s veto of their bill restoring full funding to the Daily.

Spencer Hartman claimed he wants to save students money as part of a larger campus effort to impose “fiscal responsibility” on all fee recipients.

The $20,000 cut will save each student 50 cents a semester “in comparison to large projected tuition increases,” Hanson told SPLC Tuesday before the veto override failed. She said the paper was already “projected to lose $90,000 next year,” and it’s cut $500,000 from the budget in the past decade.

The University of Pittsburgh-Johnston’s student paper is facing a far more draconian budget cut after students complained they were named in crime “citations” The Advocate started publishing from the public record.

If you want to see the politics of funding a news source that can get you in trouble, look at the committee deliberations for the Daily:

During the initial presentations to the Committee for Fee Allocations, the Daily Nebraskan raised concerns about the impartiality of one of the committee members who had been outspoken against the paper’s coverage.

“He was named in a crime roundup and wanted his name taken out. He sort of appealed to the editor-in-chief at the time, and they were actually in the same fraternity, so I know that they had a lot of back and forth about why and why not his name should be removed from the story,” Hanson said. “He continued to sort of speak out against the DN in their fraternity house and has never been a big fan.” …

Hanson said she brought up the conflict privately with the Director of Administration for Student Government hoping to mutually benefit both parties by not publicly airing the concern.

“She, I guess, didn’t think it was a problem and never really got back to us,” Hanson said. …

Hanson brought the issue up again during the actual allocation meeting and said the committee chair agreed with her and removed the member from the committee. At the next meeting, however, a different member argued that Hanson, as a non-committee member does not have the authority to bring up procedural issues. The committee voted to overturn the decision and reinstate the member to vote on the DN fee, which included the $20,000 budget reduction.

The Student Court will hear the paper’s appeal March 28 that Hartman’s line-item veto was unconstitutional, but that could backfire: It could rule that the veto was “for the entire funding” of the Daily, and uphold it.

Read the stories.

MORE: Student government threatens paper’s budget for publishing crime reports

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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