We at The Phoenix will begin featuring ads in both our online and print editions. While past iterations of The Phoenix have featured ads, our publication has solely relied on SBC funding for the past three years. We feel, however, the need to re-introduce ads into our paper for the sake of paying our news writers, and to ensure the survival of Swarthmore’s only independent campus newspaper.
Historically, Phoenix writers were not paid until the Fall of 2020, in which the Student Budget Committee (which distributes funds from the student activities fund) allowed us to pay our news writers $15 a story. While this often isn’t enough to fully compensate writers for all of their work, it was a step in the right direction, and an acknowledgement of the important and difficult work The Phoenix news section produces.
After a year of paid wages for news writers, however, SBC revoked their funding under the reasoning that the student activity fund was neither designed nor equipped to fund wages for student organizations. SBC will not allow us to pay our writers again. The Phoenix Editorial Board finds this retroactive revocation of funding disingenuous, if not outright malicious to students in financial need during a pandemic.
The Phoenix is one of the primary providers of information for the Swarthmore student body, especially now that half of the student body isn’t even on campus. Our news writers cover campus events, initiatives, and controversies. The Phoenix News section is in some way the only unifying source of information for the student body; our news articles are widely read and record the history of Swarthmore in real time. News writers are too crucial to the campus community for the position to be purely voluntary.
Moreover, newswriting itself is both incredibly demanding and time-consuming. Our news writers dedicate hours towards each article, providing an essential public good — factual information — for the entire campus community. Writers must have uncomfortable conversations with administrators and others in positions of power and can invest upwards of ten hours of work on a single story. They deserve to be paid for all of the time they devote to making our campus a more transparent place.
Above all else, not allowing The Phoenix to pay writers is a failure of the inclusive excellence that Swarthmore claims to espouse. Many students on campus need to have jobs. The Phoenix, by asking our news writers to commit many long hours for free, can exclude those who would like to write but don’t have five hours to volunteer every week. In fact, we’ve had many news writers leave us for paid positions. We’ve seen news writers quit to work for the communications office or local publications that pay them. We can’t compete with that. To retain the quality of our paper, we need to offer compensation for our writers’ hard work.
It was difficult to explain to our writers that we were no longer going to compensate them, particularly in the middle of a pandemic that puts a massive strain on student journalism. Particularly during a time when student journalism is more crucial to counteracting administrative opacity and documenting the truth than ever. We’ve decided it’s no longer acceptable. Every student who wants to work for us should be able to, and until we pay our writers, that simply isn’t possible. We are thankful for every single writer who dedicates their time to The Phoenix, and we do not want to take them for granted.
We will be accepting ads to raise the funds we need to pay our news writers. They deserve it, and it’s long past time they were fairly compensated for their work.
To place an ad in The Phoenix please contact firstname.lastname@example.org