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Magazine To Change Because of Financial Difficulties

By Manisha Padi

After publishing a plea for help in the December issue of Counterpoint, the MIT-Wellesley student publication is less than $1,000 in debt and well on its way to financial stability, according to Counterpoint editors. The publication has decided on changes in printing style and circulation to decrease costs.

The Undergraduate Association Finance Board implemented changes made last semester to assist Counterpoint in improving its financial plan.

Finboard connected Counterpoint with the Start-up Restructuring Fund, created by Finboard for new groups and for groups in financial need who must re-organize in order to get funding to continue. Counterpoint was told to come back with a plan in Dec. 2006 outlining how they would cut down on expenditures.

Each issue of Counterpoint costs approximately $1,350 to print. The magazine puts out eight issue in a normal year. The article in December’s issue of the magazine states that a typical annual operating cost is $14,000. According to Counterpoint Managing Editor Kristina Costa, a sophomore at Wellesley, the magazine had been thousands of dollars in debt at the time of their appeal to Finboard. The treasurer from the 2004-2005 school year failed to apply for money from MIT and Wellesley and forgot to pay bills to their publisher for many months, Costa said.

Unused money from Finboard and Wellesley’s counterpart, the Student Organization Funding Committee, was re-absorbed by these sources, which is standard procedure.

According to Costa, the magazine was kept afloat through the 2005-2006 school year thanks to Emergency Funding from the SOFC. “We got a bunch of the debt paid off with ad revenue,” Costa said. “This year, though, we missed the deadline to apply for Emergency Funding.”

In Sept. 2006, Counterpoint applied to appeal the Summer/Fall 2006 funding from Finboard because it received less than it had asked for during spring allocations. According to the December article, the magazine had $1,800 in its account. After the appeal, the magazine received $2,640 from Finboard.

“They asked for something like $6,000, and that’s more than we can give any one student group,” President of Finboard Hans E. Anderson ’08. “It didn’t seem like Counterpoint was being as efficient as possible with their resources.”

In IAP/Spring 2006, Counterpoint received $1,060.

Finboard and Counterpoint began meeting last month to plan and negotiate. “When we first met with them in early December, their plan was highly inadequate,” Anderson said.

“We went back and forth a few times and got a lot of helpful advice from Finboard,” Counterpoint Editor in Chief Edward K. Summers ’08 said. A mutually acceptable plan was developed.

Counterpoint decreased the amount of money requested to about $1,500 per term, which Finboard would like to establish as a norm for all publications. “Finboard prefers if publications get most of their revenue from ads,” said Anderson.

“We’re making a few changes,” Summers said. “We’re going to stop printing with a glossy cover and use one color instead of many. Also, we’ve decreased circulation by cutting out about 1000 issues that were usually never even picked up.”

Finboard spells out changes

Its dealings with Counterpoint marks some changes in Finboard’s policies that will be affecting many student groups in the future. The Start-up Restructuring Fund, which assisted Counterpoint, is an experimental program designed for new Association of Student Activities groups and groups undergoing major changes. Being accepted to the program means that the group has to provide a complete list of expenditures and income and that Finboard can access all the group’s accounts. Finboard hopes to get the Start-up Fund working consistently, Anderson said.

“The start-up fund would be great for new publications to get on their feet,” Summers said. “It would be tough to expect small publications to get much advertising revenue without having much circulation.”

Moreover, this also spells a move toward Finboard getting involved in the financial organization of groups. “We’re trying to do more hands-on work with different groups,” Anderson said. “It’s helpful especially for new groups, or those that are in some sort of trouble, to get input from Finboard.”

Other changes that are being made include further restrictions on what Finboard money can be used for. (See table on page 10 for complete list of Finboard’s new policies.)

According to UA Senate Speaker Steven M. Kelch ’08 in an interview last month, many of these policies have been followed by Finboard in the past, but they have now been written down and made official.