Fate of 'California Aggie' newspaper in the hands of UC Davis students

DAVIS, Calif. -- It's been a source of journalism on the UC Davis campus for 99 years, but now the fate of the 'California Aggie' lies in the hands of the student body.

Beginning Tuesday, students will vote on the referendum known as Measure #1, deciding whether or not they want to pay an extra $3.10 three times per academic year in student fees to keep the paper running. If not, the Aggie's run on campus will end short of its 100th anniversary making Davis the only UC school without a student paper.

"It keeps the students informed, without a newspaper [students] wouldn't be informed with what's going on," said student Shoaib Yari.

The weekly publication was distributed last Thursday with a mostly blank first page; along the bottom half to the front page reads a disclaimer on what will happen if ballot Measure #1 does not pass this week.

Newspaper staff is sending a strong message to the student body that the paper, which features editorials and campus happenings, may soon be no more.

Editor in Chief, Elizabeth Orpina, said due to plummeting ad revenue over the past few years, the print version of the California Aggie will not survive beyond this academic year. Orpina said an online-only edition would draw less readership and would compete with other online news sources.

"It's pretty disheartening. I know that with a lot of technology a lot of people tend to get their news from the internet and a lot of social media, so the newspaper might seem a little bit of an antiquated medium for those people, so it's pretty sad," said student Shannon Vo.

There is no journalism program at Davis, so the paper serves as a valuable hands-on laboratory for students interested in journalism, said Orpina.

The UC Davis newspaper staff is asking its fellow students to pay an extra $9 each year to keep the paper running. That would bring in an extra $272,800 annually to go toward covering prior losses in ad revenue, bring back paid staff and turn the Aggie into a bi-weekly publication.

Tuesday, the California Aggie Facebook page donned the message: Save the Aggie. On Twitter, some students are asking for a lower fee, others say they do not support Measure #1.

For the measure to pass, 20% of students must vote, and 60% must support the fee hike; however, even if the measure passes, the initiative would still have to go to the Chancellor's office and the President's office for final approval.

This isn't the first time a UC school has asked for a permanent student fee to help fund a school paper. UCLA's Daily Bruin also has a permanent fee, said Orpina.

Voting opens on the UC Davis campus Tuesday at 8 a.m. and continues through Friday at 8 a.m.


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