U of L cuts ad funding for student newspaper

After this year, the University of Louisville administration will no longer give financial support to The Louisville Cardinal, its student-run publication.

The administration has a long-standing commitment to buy advertisements, the Cardinal reported. Last year, that meant $60,000 in advertisements. This academic year, it was cut to only $20,000, and next year, it will be gone altogether.

Editor-in-Chief Kyeland Jackson said the Cardinal first heard about the budget cuts last year.

“No rumors beforehand, just out of the blue,” Jackson said.

Jackson said there was no reason given at first, and at first he thought it was in response to the Cardinal’s coverage of the administration.

Now that he knows the context, Jackson said, he does not think the newspaper was targeted. The administration was cutting funding across the board because of a $48 million deficit.

After speaking to Acting Provost Dale Billingsley, Jackson said he did get the impression that the Cardinal was “low on the ladder” of the administration’s priorities for advertising funding. Some advertising dollars for other organizations were kept in the administration’s budget, he said.

Jackson said he was very emotional when he first heard about the funding cuts.

“It seemed pretty devastating,” Jackson said.

His staff was more resigned to it, he said.

“They were used to things just not going our way,” Jackson said.

The Cardinal staff has already implemented changes in response to the cuts. The weekly publication is down to 12 pages from 16, and payrolls across the board have been reduced.

The staff is exploring other options to get funding, such as drawing in new advertisements, asking U of L departments or alumni groups for funding or trying different deals with U of L Athletics.

If none of those work, Jackson said, the Cardinal will move to online only as a “last resort.”

In addition to a student publication being essential to amplify student voices on campus, Jackson said, the Cardinal is crucial because U of L has no formal journalism degree. Jackson is a second-year graduate student in communications.

“For a lot of people like me, who didn’t know what they were doing in life or where they were going, the Cardinal was really a saving grace to bring people in and introduce them to journalism,” Jackson said.

Kentucky Press Association Executive Director David Thompson said KPA is “saddened” by the budget cuts.

He said that while $60,000 may not seem like a big deal to the administration, it is “huge as far as the Cardinal goes.”

Student journalists have to balance their responsibilities at the Cardinal with their schoolwork and other duties. Now, trying to get more advertising will take students away from the classroom.

Thompson said he feels advertising in the student publication is the best way to reach students on campus.

“We certainly hope that U of L would reconsider and continue supporting the student newspaper,” Thompson said.