The Xaverian Weekly is going to referendum on March 29th with the hope of creating a new student fee to fund the newspaper. The summary provides an overview of how funds would be allocated and how the fee would stand to benefit the student body.
We'd like to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or concerns, please use the feedback button at the bottom of the page to reach us directly.
Increased number of paid student opportunities
- The proposed levy would increase the number of paid positions on the XW staff from 17 to 35, allowing students to become more involved in campus life and develop skills that are beneficial for future employment (writing, photography, design, etc.)
Broaden the voice
- Expanding our team will broaden the XW's voice, offering more perspectives that are representative of students of all departments and backgrounds.
- New positions will include Graphic Designers, Multimedia Producers, Content Coordinators, Assistant Editors, and more.
Innovative live and multimedia content
- The XW would be able to strengthen its live and online presence and pursue new, innovative forms of media, such as video journalism, radio broadcasts, podcasts, etc., making campus media more accessible for students.
Expand the XW beyond a print newspaper
- The levy will allow the XW to adapt to a changing media industry and expand its mandate as StFX's platform for open debate and discussion by hosting debates, panels, guest speakers and various other events.
Given our recent transition to a more functional online platform, our organizational structure has not yet adapted to meet the needs of an expanding media industry. This proposal is designed to facilitate that transition and to allow for future development and innovation.
What is The XW?
The Xaverian Weekly is StFX's official source for student news. We are a daily online publication and a semi-weekly print publication, distributing 15 print issues per year.
Over the past year, we have redesigned our website and social media strategies, which has resulted in increased readership and accessibility. Whereas we print 1,000 copies per issue, we average 4,500 unique viewers on our website per month. The XW is now optimized for mobile, active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and regularly live-tweets and live-streams events. We have hired several new positions to account for our new online needs, and have also increased our pool of writers and contributors.
As StFX platform for open debate and discussion, the XW has broadened its reach this year by hosting the Students' Union debates, X-Talks events, and a panel on reconciliation with Senator Sinclair. There is great potential for the XW to continue expanding in this area by hosting guest speakers, journalism conferences, and workshops, among other events.
What is the proposed levy?
- The proposed levy is an $8.50 fee added to your student account at the beginning of each academic year. This fee is similar to current fees paid such as Aspiria ($6) or the Athletics fee ($106). This fee would be collected by StFX on behalf of The Xaverian Weekly.
Who gets to vote and when?
- All students are eligible to vote for the XW levy. Voting will take place on Wednesday, March 29, the same day as the elections for Grad Class Speaker and Senior Class President and Vice-President. Voting stations will be set up and manned by the Students' Union at various locations on campus.
Who will pay the levy?
- All members of the Students' Union will pay the XW fee. Given that the media outlet is open source and accessible to all, the fee will essentially function as a subscription for all StFX students.
Why $8.50? Why not $4.50? or $10?
- $8.50/student covers the XW's essential funding: printing fees, honoraria for staff, website fees, and union fees. All other expenses, such as spending on equipment, travel, and conference fees, will be contingent on advertising revenue earned by the Advertising Coordinator. Students will only pay for the necessary components, and the XW will be responsible for attaining all other funds.
Will the XW still be funded by the Students' Union?
- No. The levy will cut most financial ties between the SU and the XW. The full-time SU Accounts Coordinator will continue to manage the XW's finances, but we will be funded independently. This is an ideal set up for both parties, as it takes the XW one step closer to financial autonomy and leaves the SU with available funds to improve student services, such as the marketing office.
- It is also worth noting that it is highly unusual for a student newspaper to be funded by its Students' Union. The majority of student newspapers across Canada are funded by a student levy, as this structure is generally considered to be the best means of ensuring an independent press.
How will it affect me?
- The levy will allow the XW to double its paid staff, creating more opportunities for meaningful student employment. Working for the XW integrates students into campus life and allows them to develop worthwhile skills and enhance their portfolios.
- A robust media outlet is an essential component of a liberal university. The levy will allow the XW to expand beyond its regular print publication into new forms of media that are better suited to the information age, such as video journalism, infographics, and photojournalism. Even if you're not interested in working in media or journalism, the levy will improve your access to campus news, both in quantity and in quality.
How will it affect me as a distance student?
Given that all of our news stories are available online, distance students have equal access to campus news. Our planned enhancements all pertain to online development, meaning distance students will gain as much from the levy as those living in Antigonish.
What will the fee be used for?
- The fee will support our printing, honoraria, web, and union fees and ensure the financial stability of the paper. A stable source of revenue will allow the XW to act strategically with long-term interests in mind. The infographic below demonstrates how the levy will specifically affect the XW's budget. The two greatest changes are an increased fee for honoraria, given the expansion in positions, and increased funding for operations, which will allow the XW to invest in training and equipment.
How will the fee change the The Xaverian Weekly?
- The levy will allow The Xaverian Weekly to become a more robust and creative news source on campus. Our current structure is a bare bones version of student press - it covers the necessities but does not allow room for growth or development. The proposed model, which mirrors that of student papers at other universities, will allow the XW to become more innovative and adapt to a media industry that has predominantly shifted online. With the necessary resources in place, the XW is poised to improve both in quality and originality and offer a greater contribution to the campus community.
Who will manage the collected money?
- Under our current structure, all revenue and expenses are managed by the Students' Union full-time Accounts Coordinator. The levy will not change this model; the only difference will be where the money comes from.
Why should I vote yes?
- There is a great amount of potential in student press. This year we have done our best to tap into that potential and expand the XW's reach both online and in terms of involvement in campus life. With more students involved and more financial flexibility, the XW can continue to progress toward the initiatives laid out in the proposal. Even if you're not interested in working in journalism or media, a strengthened media outlet will keep you informed in more effective, accessible, and creative ways and give you a platform to express your voice should you decide to do so. Free press is essential to any institution, and a successful levy would demonstrate a strong commitment to accountability and transparency at StFX.
Why is the student levy responsible for printing? Wouldn't it make sense to only print as much print advertising you sell?
- Great question. The question of print versus online media is affecting all media outlets across the country, both professional and campus press. Frankly, the old model to fund media, advertising, doesn't work anymore. More and more papers are moving away from advertising and toward more subscription-based models (similar to the levy) because print advertising has proven unsustainable as a revenue source for papers. We do well with print advertising, but it isn't a reliable enough foundation for a business model. Advertising tends to trickle in throughout the year with various influxes, making it difficult to plan a print schedule beforehand.
- If there's one area where costs could be easily cut, it's the printing budget line. It is very likely that within the next few years the XW will transition to a predominantly online source with few, if any, print issues. However, we currently lack the stability or the institutional infrastructure to sustain such a transition. This past year was our first year with an updated website and a team member whose job is to manage our online presence. There's a lot of progress to be made before we can consider changing our print schedule, but it's definitely something we're considering. We'd also love to hear student feedback about the perceived value of a print newspaper versus an online source.
Would you be be willing to offer an opt-out option, similar to our health and dental benefits, for those students who wish not to subscribe?
- Given that the XW cannot be quantified on a unit-level basis, we are unable to offer an opt-out option. The XW would not be able to build a sustainable business model off of such a structure.
- Moreover, regardless of whether or not an individual reads the paper or regularly checks our website, all members of the campus community benefit from having an open media source at StFX. Free press helps keep institutions accountable and creates a more transparent campus environment, and this way the service will always be available to students should they choose to get informed or feel as though they need a platform to voice their concerns.
Drag the slider below to view our current and proposed organizational structures.
The creation of four core teams:
Editorial Team: Our current structure is mainly composed of the editorial team. It includes all section editors, reporters, staff writers and columnists, those who determine the editorial direction of the paper, cover and investigate stories, and write and edit all published content. The main proposed change to the editorial team is to pay all our writers (most currently operate on a volunteer basis) and to create the Assistant Editor position. These two acts will serve to improve the quality of writing and editing at the XW and build in institutional transition.
Creative Team: Currently, one individual, the Artistic Coordinator, is responsible for all creative materials, be it newspaper covers, graphics, posters, other promotional content, and soon. The new creative team will create an opportunity for students to dive into Adobe Creative Suite and gain valuable skills in design and photography.
Multimedia Team: Similar to the creative team, we currently have one individual who manages all our online and social media content. In order to fully take advantage of all our online platforms, we plan to specialize across social media and web management and development to make our online presence more thorough and efficient. The multimedia team will also consist of two multimedia producers who will be responsible for creating and publishing the XW's video content.
Business Team: The business team manages the XW's finances (in conjunction with the Students' Union), solicits print and online advertising, and coordinates distribution. The levy will allow for the creation of a Business Manager position, who will make all financial decisions for the XW and ensure that funds are being allocated efficiently.
New management structure: The leaders of each core team - the Editor-in-Chief, the Visual Editor, the Multimedia Editor, and the Business Manager - will work closely together to manage the operations of the media outlet and to generate new ideas. We have found that working in a team setting is much more effective than merely having the Editor-in-Chief make all decisions. While the EIC ultimately determines the editorial direction of the paper, having a more supportive organizational structure will help ensure that new projects are managed efficiently and that all XW content is high quality.
More focus on online content: The main changes to the XW's organizational structure are to create positions that focus on developing the online and visual components of storytelling. We understand that our generation consumes almost all of its media online, and we see the urgent need to adapt. New job opportunities on the creative and multimedia teams will provide support to the editors and help maximize the potential for innovation in both departments.
What stays the same?
- Print publication: The XW will continue to publish 15 print issues per year. The structure of coordinating and running the newspaper itself will stay the same for the time being, with editors pitching stories to writers who must fill a certain quota of articles per week/issue.
- Sections: Content will be organized in the same way, with news, opinions, culture, and sports acting as the core sections, plus features and distractions.
Drag the slider below to view more info about our current and proposed budget structures.
Funded by levy: printing, honoraria, website fee, union fee
Contingent on advertising revenue: spending on equipment, travel, conference fees, marketing and promotions
Honoraria: Given that we are doubling our number of paid staff, our honoraria budget line also doubles to accommodate that shift. Most of our writers and photographers currently act on a volunteer basis, so the XW plans to offer these individuals small stipend as compensation, as well as offering more equitable pay to other team members. Given the creation of a management team to support the Editor-in-Chief, their honorarium is set to decrease by $700. Honoraria will be structured in accordance with the Students' Union honoraria structure. For a full outline of how much each position gets paid, please see our proposal.
Operations: Our operations budget is scheduled to increase by $4000, although these funds would be contingent on money earned through advertising revenue. These extra funds will allow the XW to invest in necessary equipment for photography and video production and to fund marketing and promotions for various events the XW hosts on campus. Travel and conference fees also fall under the operations budget. Given that StFX does not offer any journalism training, sending team members to journalism conferences is a valuable way to gain experience and improve the overall quality of the XW.
What stays the same?
- Printing: Our printing budget will stay the same, enabling the XW to print 15 issues per year with the Pictou Advocate.
- Web fee: The XW must pay a small annual fee to host its website.
- Canadian University Press fee: The Xaverian Weekly is a proud member of the Canadian University Press, Canada's student journalist cooperative. CUP hosts national and regional conferences each year and facilitates other events such as roundtables with professional journalists.
Thank you for taking the time to review our levy proposal. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us below.
The referendum will take place on Wednesday, March 29th, along with the elections for Senior Class Speaker and Senior Class President and Vice-President.