As promised in our letter describing the IDS’ concerning financial state, we’re going to keep updating you as we learn more about what our future might look like. To recap our last letter: The IDS was on track to run out of money by May, and not many people knew. Restructuring plans proposed in 2018 had stalled. We weren’t sure what would happen if the IDS’ accounts hit zero.
Since we last wrote, we’ve met with alumni, administrators, faculty and other concerned parties. IU has made a few encouraging promises regarding our future, which we’ll get into below.
We also raised more than $85,000 in donations to our Legacy Fund in the two days after we published the letter. We raised $100,000 the first two weeks of January, including a $50,000 donation from IU alumnus Mark Cuban.
We’re so grateful for this show of support for our independent student journalism. Through social media posts, emails and calls, people told us how much the IDS means to them and how scared they were to learn of its uncertain future.
Administrators have assured us the IDS will continue to exist beyond this semester. We still don’t know exactly what that will look like. We’re working on it.
IU announced last week that it will allow us to operate at a deficit for three years. The Media School will be responsible for any remaining deficit.
The Media School and Office of the Provost have also promised there will be no “immediate changes” to professional staff structure. Our professional staff members are full-time Media School employees paid through our budget. Their work is critical to running the IDS and cannot be shifted onto students.
This agreement guarantees the IDS can continue as is for at least three more years. But when those three years end and the Media School has to foot the bill for our deficit, we don’t know what changes the school will make to our newsroom. And it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to climb out of a deficit without a drastic change to our business model.
To be clear, we don’t think the IDS name will go away. But if the Media School takes on our budget with no changes to our financial structure, the IDS could morph into an organization far different from the one it is today.
We met with IU Provost Lauren Robel on Friday to discuss our concerns about the future of the paper and our desire to work with administrators on a solution. She said she would convene a new committee to work with us on developing a plan for a sustainable business model for the IDS.
The committee that was initially formed in November 2018 to address the IDS’ financial issues hasn’t met since March.
We’re working as hard as we can to vet all options for a new structure and determine which are viable.
Media School Dean James Shanahan declined to meet with us for at least two weeks while he talks to faculty about the IDS. He suggested we direct immediate questions to the campus level.
The reaction to our previous letter was both disheartening and reaffirming. Members of our community posted about the IDS’ effect on their lives and shared their concerns about it going away. We heard from student journalists at other schools who are working with similar situations. Students and professional groups reached out to us with fundraising ideas and offered to help however they could.
What we need from you, our readers, is to keep caring. Keep donating to the IDS Legacy Fund if you’re able. Keep reading our stories. Keep letting IU administrators know you’re paying attention.