On Jan. 7, 2021, then-editors Caroline Anders and Emily Isaacman shared that the Indiana Daily Student was about to run out of money. More than two years later, we are devastated to say that, despite our best efforts, the IDS is not only out of money but is currently operating at an estimated deficit of around -$450,000.
Adding to injury, our print newspaper may exist in an entirely different form by the summertime. Due to our financial constraints and the recent loss of a major print advertiser, we are struggling to come up with a way to produce our weekly print paper.
In short, the future of the IDS is once again uncertain.
It would be naive to say print is the only thing in danger. I, like much of our staff, have often heard “The IDS will always exist” in response to our concerns. However, we should no longer blindly believe this, as much as we may want it to be true. Soon, the Media School will be under the leadership of a new dean. Whoever it ends up being will inherit a deficit of more than -$500,000.
I cannot say what they will decide to do with the IDS or our finances. Right now, none of us can.
Shortly after the original letter from the editors was published in 2021, the IDS, the Media School and the Office of the Provost agreed to let the IDS run a deficit under the Media School for a period of three years. We are now more than halfway through that time. While this saved us for the time being, it was not the final solution.
The 2021 statement reassured, “All parties involved are committed to the continuing existence of the publication, as well as to its editorial independence and the quality of its journalism.”
While we hope this is still the case, the IDS, the Media School and the Office of the Provost have met together only one time since the publication of the letter. As of now, there is no long-term plan for the IDS’s financial future.
We are still committed to ensuring that future, but it is something that cannot be decided without assistance from those groups. Any decision we make regarding the economic structure of the organization must be supported by those in power at the Media School.
We are an editorially independent organization. We decide what we report on and how we report on it. All of our staffers are students, from the reporters all the way up to myself, and we alone make decisions regarding our coverage. With that freedom, we have been able to push the boundaries of what it means to be a student newspaper.
The IDS is and will continue to be a major news outlet for the Bloomington community. We have expanded our coverage into local politics and city life in a meaningful way and will continue to do so. We want to provide this essential reporting, but in order to do that we need to ensure that our future is secure.
Yesterday, the IDS celebrated its 156th birthday as a student publication producing vital coverage for the IU and greater Bloomington community. It was a day to acknowledge our great successes as an organization. We have published groundbreaking investigations, kept the community up-to-date on countless developing stories and provided training for hundreds of students who went on to become award-winning journalists and media professionals.
We’re able to do this because the IDS is an incredible place. It’s the reason we keep working to be better journalists. It is the reason readers will know a little bit more about themselves and their neighbors. It is the reason all of us graduate with a true understanding of what it means to serve our community.
The IDS isn’t a club. It isn’t a class. And if we want it to continue to have the significance it does, I hope people consider why it isn’t any of those things.
I don’t want to lose what this place is, and I know others feel the same.
I wish I could tell you that donations alone will save us. While donations are incredibly helpful and we appreciate each and every dollar, we know there needs to be a long-term solution in addition to people’s generosity. Waiting was not an option in 2021, and it certainly isn’t now.
So, I am here to repeat exactly what was said then: We need a comprehensive solution.
Our director Jim Rodenbush is anticipating conversations with the leaders of The Media School shortly. Our hope is from those discussions, we can look at tangible options for our newsroom. When I applied to take on this role as editor-in-chief, I began exploring alternative options for us, but none of these changes can be implemented within the semester. Any change needs to include a continuous conversation outside of meetings.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting local student journalism. With any luck, we will have the honor of serving you for many more years to come.
Readers can support us by making contributions to the IDS Legacy Fund.