Canadian University Press in financial crisis
The newswire, which is a non-profit co-operative of Canadian campus newspapers, will lay off 12 part-time staff, effective March 1. CUP has a projected deficit of $7,000 for this year and if it cannot fundraise $50,000 in a campaign starting next week, the cooperative will likely shut down.
By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor
The Canadian University Press (CUP) will lay off 12 part-time staff effective March 1.
The newswire, which is a non-profit co-operative of Canadian campus newspapers, has a projected deficit of $7,000 for this year. President Erin Hudson told J-Source that if CUP cannot raise $50,000 in a campaign launching next week, the cooperative will likely shut down.
“This was a very hard decision,” Hudson said. She said the organization attempted to cut costs by trimming health benefits for national staff as well as her salary, but that still wasn’t enough. “The decision was based solely on CUP’s dire financials, which constitutes a state of emergency for our organization,” she wrote in a memo.
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The warning signs have been there: 10 years ago, the co-operative had more than 90 members but now has only about 55, with many of its oldest members—such as The Varsity (University of Toronto), The McGill Daily, the Dalhousie Gazette and UBC’s Ubyssey, leaving to form an alternative newswire last year. Those who left criticized CUP’s high membership fees for the services it provided.
CUP has also run a deficit the past two years.
“For the last two years, we’ve been running a deficit higher than $7,000 and we have no savings to drawn on anymore, so we can’t sustain that,” Hudson said. According to 2012 year’s budget, CUP spent around $140,889 for a staff of 17. The president and the national bureau chief were paid about $36,782 and $33,662 respectively and the co-operative’s total expenses were around $341,089.
Still, Hudson remains optimistic CUP will be able to pull through with its fundraising campaign and a grant-based partnership with the National Campus and Community Radio Association currently underway. “We have a few tricks up our sleeves. We’re not going down without a fight,” she said.
With files from Laurent Bastien Corbeil
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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.