War News Radio Funding Halved

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The President’s Office will cut hours for War News Radio’s professional journalist-in-residence position for the next fiscal year. The position, currently held by Iraqi journalist Abdulla Mizead, will go from full-time to part-time.

This position was funded for thirty-five hours per week from 2009-2010. President Rebecca Chopp made the decision to cut the journalist’s hours to seventeen hours per week, for a two-year period.

“War News Radio has some equipment expenses, but the majority of funds for WNR has been used to support [this position],” Lang Center Director and Professor Joy Charlton said in an email.

On the other hand, the program’s “operating budget, which includes money to cover yearly expenses – primarily phone cards – has not been cut,” according to WNR Staff Reporter Anjali Cadambi ’13.

Chopp stated that like any other program run on “soft” money (money left over in the operational budget), WNR is continually evaluated, and is dependent on “money you cannot count on being there year after year.”

Given the economic recession, the money to keep running WNR was hard to find. No new programs were added to the budget last year, and even if WNR were added, it would have to compete for funding with financial aid, salaries and other priorities of the college. The search for an interested donor to fund WNR has proved fruitless so far.

WNR was funded entirely by the President’s Office until the Lang Center took on “administrative liaison activities” three years ago, according to Charlton, including paperwork processing and invoices. The Lang Center also provides funding for summer internships and project expenses.

“The Lang Center has supported us by allowing students to apply for S2A2 [Summer Social Action Awards] funding for the WNR summer internship,” Cadambi said. This year, WNR will have five interns working over the summer as well as two Lang Center interns in the fall, Gabriel Ramirez ’10 said. (Ramirez, an outgoing WNR reporter, has also produced videos for the Gazette.)

Ramirez said that WNR will miss a valuable asset next fall: the mentorship of a professional journalist who has both worked in radio and is an expert on the region has been invaluable to WNR’s success. Mizead is leaving the staff in August for a full-time position. Ramirez thinks, however, that along with a part-time journalist, a large group of new staff members from the Class of 2013 and the Lang interns will help fill in the space Mizead leaves behind.

“I am very confident the students can continue the fabulous work of this program. I was very impressed by them when we met, and they want to continue [the program],” Chopp said.

“I’m very sorry we’ll be losing Abdulla Mizead,” said WNR Board of Managers member David Gelber. “That’s the bad news. He’s been an extraordinary mentor to scores of students. The good news is that President Chopp found a way to save War News Radio, even in a time of necessary, unavoidable budget cutbacks. If you had asked me 2 months ago, I would have told you that WNR was doomed. President Chopp, though, saw what WNR has meant to dozens of students over the past 6 years.”

Although its dynamic may be different, WNR is looking toward the future. “We are extremely grateful for the college’s continued level of support for War News Radio during these hard financial times, and we’re excited to continue producing great shows over the summer and through next year,” said Cadambi.

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