What is the Daily Bruin & Bruinwalk.com Referendum?

The Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com are asking the UCLA student body to support a $3 fee increase that would keep our important campus services running for years to come. UCLA’s student-run media, including the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk, have for decades relied on sales of printed advertisements in the Daily Bruin to support ourselves – we don’t receive funding from USAC, and we’re independent from UCLA. Now, as more students use our services on the Internet rather than in print, the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com need additional support from the student body to keep running in the future. Without this referendum, the futures of UCLA’s 97-year-old daily newspaper, its go-to professor review website, UCLA Radio and seven community newsmagazines are in danger. We’re asking for this referendum to allow for the continued publication of our products, which aim to train journalists and developers while informing, entertaining, educating and improving life on campus.

Why is this important?

The Daily Bruin has been UCLA’s independent news source for 97 years, and has since grown to become the third-largest newspaper in Los Angeles and one of the highest-ranked college newspapers in the nation. Bruinwalk.com, UCLA’s professor and apartment review website, helps thousands of students each year make informed decisions when enrolling in classes. Both of these services serve as outlets for student voice and expression, and help to keep UCLA accountable to its students. And with a staff of more than 500, the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com are also an important campus activity and serve as UCLA’s unofficial training ground for students aspiring to work in journalism, photography, publications and web development. But while our services are used by more students now than ever before, the department is at a crossroads; our users are now mostly online, where advertisements are sold for a small fraction of the price per reader. While the $3 fee increase proposed in the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com referendum is modest, it will allow us to keep Bruinwalk.com up-to-date with new professors, courses and reviews every quarter, and to continue publishing the Daily Bruin and grow its training programs. The referendum will allow the Daily Bruin, Bruinwalk.com, UCLA Radio and seven valuable community newsmagazines to continue publishing for years to come in the face of a precipitous drop in print advertising sales. The referendum will allow UCLA to still benefit from having a free daily campus newspaper and a free professor and apartment review service.

What would the referendum support?

The Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com referendum calls for a $3 increase to student fees, which represents an 0.4 percent increase to the current fees charged by UCLA. Three-quarters of the $3 total – $2.25 – would go toward supporting student media services on campus, including the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com, as well as our eight sister publications – UCLA Radio and seven community-oriented newsmagazines: Al-Talib, Ha’Am, FEM, La Gente, Nommo, OutWrite and Pacific Ties. The remainder – $0.75 – would be returned to UCLA in the form of undergraduate financial aid, per university policy. This referendum will allow student-run media at UCLA to survive with sustainable funding, and will allow us to better serve the campus with a reduced reliance on the failing model of print advertising income. A majority of Student Media’s costs are necessary overhead such as rent and server costs; student wages; training instructors; printing and distribution.

Why ask for a referendum instead of cutting costs?

We have made extreme sacrifices to keep UCLA Student Media afloat since the 2008 recession, but any more cuts would directly threaten the long-term survival and quality of our student programs and services such as the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com.

Still, cost-cutting has not been able to catch up with decreased revenues from print advertising sales, and for the past eight years Student Media has recorded net losses. Any additional cuts to our department would directly threaten the ability of the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com to carry out their stated missions. The fee increase called for in this referendum is the only sustainable way to carry forward UCLA’s student media.

Why do you still print the Daily Bruin?

While revenues from ads in the printed Daily Bruin have been dropping for years, they still supply the highest portion of Student Media’s income; as of 2015, printing and distribution costs as well as the other Daily Bruin controllable expenses are fully paid for by income from print advertising. Additionally, if the Daily Bruin were not to be printed, we may have to forfeit the Daily Bruin kiosks around campus, which would slash another $200,000 per year from Student Media’s budget from kiosk advertising sales. We hope to keep bringing in sales dollars from the printed Daily Bruin and our campus kiosks, preventing us from asking the student body for additional fees.

What happens if the referendum does not pass?

Without this reliable source of funding, the future of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper for 97 years, and Bruinwalk.com, every student’s go-to resource for finding the best professors, is in danger. Additional cuts would have to be made that would directly threaten the long-term survival of both services, hurting the 1,000 students in UCLA Student Media as well as the thousands of readers and users who benefit from our services.

How are the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com funded currently?

Advertising in the Daily Bruin’s print edition has for 97 years comprised the majority of income for UCLA Student Media, which publishes the Daily Bruin, Bruinwalk.com, UCLA Radio and seven community-oriented newsmagazines, Al-Talib, Ha’Am, FEM, La Gente, Nommo, OutWrite and Pacific Ties. In 2007, nearly $1.9 million of the department’s income came from print advertising sales. Last year print advertising only brought in $635,000, a drop of 67 percent in just eight years.

Since the advent of the Internet, the Daily Bruin and Student Media have been working to diversify sources of revenue and reduce the dependence on print advertising. Innovative new online and offline advertising channels and other sources of revenue have been developed, taking some of the burden off traditional advertising sales. The Daily Bruin was one of the first campus newspapers to have a website, and today UCLA Student Media is a leader in digital advertising.

Other areas of income include advertisements on Daily Bruin news stands and sales of the BruinLife yearbook. In 2009, the Communications Board began receiving fee support for the first time through Practicing Leadership and Empowerment to Develop Growth through Education, or PLEDGE. This fee helped Student Media weather some of the dramatic revenue losses after the 2008 recession, and it supports overhead and administrative costs for Student Media publications that do not have advertising revenue but still have expenses like rent and utilities. Still, Student Media's finances remain tied to the unpredictable and always-sinking print advertising revenues, and while the Daily Bruin once had additional funds to support all publications in the department, it will now need additional income just to support itself. The Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com also bring in some money through online and mobile advertising; however, market prices for online ads are far lower than print ones, and thus these only account for 6 percent of the department’s income.

Are other campuses facing the same problem?

Print newspapers across the University of California and the country have faced dramatic declines in income as advertisers move to social media and online platforms. Dozens of student newspapers across the country have successfully campaigned for student fees to support their operations, bringing in a reliable form of funding that helps their student-run campus services. This year alone, UC Davis voted to support a $3.73 fee for The California Aggie, its student newspaper, and UC Berkeley voted “yes” on a $2.50 initiative for The Daily Californian. Without the support of students, campus newspapers and the important services they provide are in danger of disappearing throughout the UC system.

How do I vote?

Students can vote for the Daily Bruin and Bruinwalk.com referendum throughout Week 6 on MyUCLA! Voting opens at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 2 and closes at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

More questions?

If you have a question not answered in this FAQ, please email us at [email protected]. We will return your email within 12 hours.