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THE STATE HORNET

Five-Year Organizational Plan

Submitted by Holly A. Heyser, Faculty Adviser and Professional Journalist in Residence California State University, Sacramento Spring 2009 (revised April 17, 2009)

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The State Hornet is a student-run news organization with a weekly print publication and a frequently updated Web site. It operates at California State University, Sacramento, under a charter from the university and functions as a lab for the university’s journalism students. Students make all news content decisions, and they are also employed as advertising sales representatives. Its primary source of income is advertising revenue, supplemented since 1999 by a student fee of $2.50 per student per semester, with about two-thirds of the current budget from advertising. It is governed by a nine-person publications board, constituted of faculty, administrative staff, and students. The student staff is enrolled in three units of graded journalism credit each semester. The classes, Journalism 197A and Journalism 197B, can be taken as many as eight semesters, allowing students to work at the paper during their entire undergraduate experience. The Department of Communication Studies currently provides a faculty adviser for six units of instruction. Despite the State Hornet being a laboratory experience, students enrolled in the class control all content in the print and online publications as they exercise their First Amendment Rights, as formally recognized by the State Hornet Policy. Mission statement: The best interests of the campus community are served by having a student-run news organization that provides breaking news online, in-depth analysis in print, and collaborates with other student media on campus. Strengths and core competencies: The State Hornet’s key strength is its ability to provide information about the campus that students, faculty, and staff cannot get from other news media and to provide a training ground for any student interested in the media. Significant challenges the organization faces now and in the near future: As with other news organizations, the State Hornet is facing a decline in interest in reading newspapers, a decline in interest by advertisers, and the challenge of monetizing its Internet presence. The organization must adapt by putting more emphasis on creating an engaging product, both in print and online, and by seeking to capture more advertising dollars online. In addition, The State Hornet’s contract with web host College Publisher has expired, and the newspaper is free to find a new host or develop its own site, as there is unanimous agreement among students and staff that College Publisher does not meet the paper’s needs, in terms of flexibility, reliability and customer service. Long term: The five-year goal of the State Hornet is to continue improving breakingnews coverage online and adding and improving multimedia and interactive features and to refocus the weekly print edition on in-depth reporting, analysis and previews about issues and events of interest to the campus community.

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ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS
The State Hornet is a nonprofit business as well as a student laboratory and is required to be self-supporting. Its dual mission is to be the campus’ main source of information and to act as a journalism laboratory for Sacramento State students. The changing media environment The news media environment is shifting rapidly both in California and nationally, with fewer people getting their news from print publications and more using the Internet as their primary information sources. Managers of news publications need journalists who can produce stories in stages (quick, short breaking news for web; update for web; indepth version for print) and produce content that integrates text, audio, video and multimedia. Sacramento State’s journalism program, as well as many journalism schools nationwide, has acknowledged this shift, incorporating multimedia reporting in the journalism curriculum. The State Hornet needs to provide rigorous training for journalists entering this rapidly shifting environment, teaching them not only the software and tricks of the multimedia trade, but more importantly, the nimble, innovative mindset that is required to survive and thrive in the new environment. Proposed changes for the 2009-10 academic year The State Hornet made excellent progress toward these goals in 2008-09 dramatically stepping up video production, continuing to experiment boldly with audio slideshows. And the print edition has made real progress toward its goal of providing in-depth news, rather than the kind of breaking news that goes best on the web. It has also made great strides in spring toward using more infographics that are friendly to readers’ eyes. And the quality of copy editing has improved substantially with the addition of a healthy corps of English majors interning as copy editors. Recognition of the Hornet in the past year has included: • • • In Fall 2008, the Hornet won an Online Pacemaker from Associated Collegiate Press, and this year it is once again a finalist for the award. In Spring 2009, the Hornet won second place in Associated Collegiate Press’s “Best in Show” award for an entire print issue. In Spring 2009, the Hornet won second place for sports page design from California College Media Advisers.

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But work remains to be done. Some interactive elements have left the website – and rightfully so, because they were not well used – but they have not been replaced. And the print edition can go even further with depth, analysis and special reports. There is also desire on the part of students to improve print design – an area in which neither the staff nor the faculty adviser has expertise. In 2009-10, The Hornet should: • Retain and coach experienced staff members who can provide more depth and analysis for the print edition. • Continue and build on our relationship with the English Department to provide internships for English majors who can work as copy editors. • Establish a “projects team” that will be released from normal productivity requirements of one story a week to focus on high-quality, in-depth, investigative and public service reporting. This was planned for 2008-09 but never came to fruition because of a lack of deeply experienced staff. • Contract with a new newspaper hosting service prepare for that transition over summer break. • Continue deploying mobile journalists, or “mojos,” who wander the campus with camera, video recorder and laptop to report breaking news and other happenings. • Hire or provide internships to students from Digital Media and Computer Science who can help develop innovative content for the website and help train staff. • Hire or provide internships to students from the Design Department who can help improve the design of the State Hornet print edition. • Explore potential partnerships with radio to maximize the reach of students’ content, and makes the public aware of the campus’ main news source. • Ensure that our online content satisfies the accessible technology provisions of Executive Order 926 (http://www.calstate.edu/EO-926.html). • Continue seeking recognition for innovative work both on our website and in print, establishing ourselves as leaders in college media. To do this, the students must continue innovating, as well as improve the quality of innovations that occurred in 2008-09.

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The role of the faculty adviser/professional journalist in residence In 2008-09, the board doubled its budget for the faculty adviser in her capacity as business manager, agreeing to “buy out” 6 units of her teaching time each semester starting Fall 2008. In spring, the Hornet had to cut back to buying out 3 units because declining ad revenue necessitated budget cuts. But there is agreement that the Hornet should resume paying for 6 units per semester of management time. With the additional time in the Fall, the faculty adviser implemented a regular weekly marketing program that promotes the print edition; devised press passes that can be produced each semester; and began a program of more careful monitoring of the newspaper’s expenditures to spot any problems early. She also worked with the Digital Media faculty and Creative Services to develop a set students can use in the television production studio (LIB 58B) to produce talk-show-style videos. She worked to retain those programs even after her time was cut back, but the addition of another class to her schedule seriously compromised her ability to spend time at the Hornet. With the resumption of the 6-unit buyout, the adviser should continue those established programs and work to improve management in these areas: • • • • • • Inventory control and equipment check-out procedures. Recruitment of editorial and advertising staff and interns from across disciplines in the university. Routine management coaching for editors. Development of an online advertising program. Explore news rack advertising. Developing a regular equipment replacement plan

The role of the Publications Board The State Hornet is an independent student newspaper, as defined in the State Hornet Policy. The Publications Board is the official publisher of the newspaper. This board must be able to provide professional expertise and guidance during this critical evolution of multiple publications and a shift in revenue sources. The Board should: • • Consider changes to the composition of the board, such as adding other faculty with experience in public relations, marketing and sales. Such additions would likely bring additional resources and cooperation to the newspaper. More aggressively recruit students not associated with the journalism program to run for the elected at-large board positions.

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FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS
The State Hornet’s primary sources of funding are advertising and a student fee. In 2009, a significant change to the allowed uses of the fee was approved by President Alexander Gonzalez: In addition to using the funds for rent and printing, the newspaper can now tap the money for web publishing and student stipends. Because enrollment is not expected to grow significantly in the climate of state budget cuts, the newspaper needs to seek to increase student fee revenue via a 50-cent-persemester fee increase, which would make up for value lost to inflation since the fee was approved in 1999. The Hornet made such a proposal in 2008-09, and the results of the process are not final, but if the fee increase is not approved, the newspaper should try again in 2009-10. The newspaper also needs to redouble efforts to retain and recruit advertisers. News rack advertising The State Hornet should explore acquiring news racks that include space for poster-sized advertisements that could be sold to current or new advertisers, providing a bold presence that would be seen even by students who don’t pick up the newspaper. This involves: • • • Assessing the cost of such news racks. Understanding the requirements of producing, distributing and maintaining the news rack ads. Ensuring that the program would not conflict with university policy concerning advertising.

Advertising sales representatives The advertising manager is a reliable resource who’s familiar with advertisers, diligent about maintaining current advertisers and knowledgeable about cyclical changes in demand for advertising. What she needs to increase advertising revenues and bring new advertisers to the newspaper is an aggressive student sales force. The faculty adviser and ad manager will work together to recruit talented students from academic programs where they could reasonably expect to be found, including business, marketing and public relations. The newspaper will take advantage of training opportunities for sales reps provided by college newspaper organizations.

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The adviser, ad manager and ad sales team will work aggressively to promote online advertising opportunities, recruit advertisers for this medium and ensure that advertisers see results directly attributable to online advertising. Revenue projections The State Hornet’s primary revenue sources are advertising and a dedicated student fee of $2.50 per semester. For 2008-09, student fee revenue was projected to be $130,000 and advertising revenue, $222,000. While the fee revenue projection is likely to be on target, advertising revenue will come in substantially below target due to the loss of two major clients and a slump in advertising attributable to the poor economy. Revenue projections for 2009-10 will be downgraded to $200,000. Ongoing expenses Other than employee expenses, which are discussed below, the State Hornet’s main expenses are printing and rent for its space in the University Union. Occupancy: The chair of the Business Advisory Committee negotiates the yearly rent. While the University Union has typically raised the rent for the Hornet each year, it is hoped that the rent will stabilize. Printing: Our printing needs are met by outside vendors who bid each year. In 2008-09, the Hornet switched from the Grass Valley-based Union to Sacramento-based Herald Printing, substantially lowering print costs. The Herald, which had an option to extend its contract with the Hornet by mutual agreement, agreed to do so, lowering its base printing price 5 percent in 2009-10 to remain competitive.

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Employee expenses The State Hornet’s other large expense is employment. The paid employees of the State Hornet include the advertising director, advertising representatives, one-fourth of the faculty adviser’s salary and student editors. Technical support The Hornet has for some years now received technical support from the College of Arts & Letters IT staff. However, the IT staff has had minimal time available for the Hornet, so its newsroom computers are not functioning well or efficiently. The Hornet is actively pursuing alternative arrangements, the most viable being an arrangement with the College of Engineering & Computer Science to provide paid interns who can supply technical support 10 hours per week. Five-year projections Detailed five-year financial projections appear as Appendix I – an attached Excel spreadsheet.

OPERATIONAL NEEDS
With the recent addition of new computers, a new server, new furniture, and new audio-visual equipment, the newspaper now needs to shift into a schedule of maintenance and regular modest upgrades. Replacement policy The State Hornet will attempt to replace broken, worn-out or outdated equipment, but it will not replace stolen equipment. Theft of photo equipment has been a problem for the past two years, and The Hornet should not have a policy that encourages theft by quickly replacing stolen equipment; the victims of theft by students will be fellow students trying to produce the newspaper. Equipment and software needs Among the organization’s equipment needs over the next five years: • Purchase of replacement low-end and mid-range audio recorders in the next 2-3 years ($100-$300 apiece) • Continued computer replacement of standard desktop computers, potentially 3-5 over the next five years ($1,000 apiece)

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The purchase of updated software needed for audio, video and photo editing, as well as newspaper design.

A possible source of funding for these purposes is the State Hornet’s equipment reserve fund. Training needs Essential to reaching our goal of a vibrant online information source and a training ground for future journalists who can work across media will be providing the student staff the training necessary to work toward that goal. This will be achieved in several ways: 1. Through interaction with the faculty adviser, who provides editorial support, oversees the business operation and is the instructor of record for the journalism laboratory classes. 2. Through the use of journalism consultants, either from the faculty or from the ranks of regional professionals. Consultants may be paid, subject to the availability of funds. 3. By sending staff to professional training sessions put on by Associated Collegiate Press, the California College Media Association and similar organizations. 4. Mandatory ongoing training through the semester, to be organized by the faculty adviser and editor in chief.

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Appendix 1 (see attached spreadsheet)

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Appendix II State Hornet organization The State Hornet is a daily news operation, with daily publication online and a weekly print newsmagazine. Staff organization Editor-in-chief – Big picture/organizational goals Print managing editor – Coordinates weekly print edition Online managing editor – Coordinates daily web coverage Photo editor Graphics editor Multimedia producer Print news editor Online news editor Print features editor Online features editor Print sports editor Online sports editor Opinion editor Daily operation The State Hornet’s website is a 24/7 operation, with the primary work occurring during the day on weekdays and sports coverage going online on game days and evenings. The online editor will constantly evaluate the importance of incoming news to determine which stories should be featured most prominently, with the default position being newest story first. The online editor will also evaluate all incoming breaking news and determine in consultation with appropriate print editors which stories should be developed further for the weekly print edition. Copy flow: Reporter > Online editor > Copy Editor > posted Weekly newspaper Content will be longer form, with stories of more depth and analysis. The editor will work with the various section editors to enlist reporters to work these stories. The magazine may also feature the best of the week’s online stories. Copy flow: Reporter > Assigning editor > Copy Editor > M.E. or EIC > page design

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State Hornet Newspaper 5-Year Projections

Appendix I

2008-09
Not Yet Final
Unrestricted Restricted

2009-10
Proposed Budget
Unrestricted Restricted

2010-11
Draft
Unrestricted Restricted

2011-12
Draft
Unrestricted Restricted

2012-13
Draft
Unrestricted Restricted

2013-14
Draft
Unrestricted Restricted

Sources of Funds
Advertising Student Fees Transfer from reserve Investment Earnings Total, Sources of Funds $ 201,688 133,448 25,000 $ 201,688 $ 57,154 6,000 25,603 8,844 2,734 5,310 2,521 27,128 200 $ 133,448 335,136 21,338 $ 225,000 $ 72,802 10,000 26,371 8,844 3,738 5,310 2,521 36,170 200 $ 133,448 358,448 12,198 $ 200,000 133,448 17,000 $ 227,000 $ 74,723 10,000 27,162 9,385 3,763 5,310 2,521 36,279 200 $ 135,000 362,000 10,277 $ 210,000 135,000 9,000 $ 229,500 $ 74,799 10,000 27,977 9,666 4,096 5,310 2,521 36,387 200 $ 148,500 378,000 20,201 $ 220,500 148,500 4,000 $ 235,525 $ 77,983 10,000 28,816 9,956 4,276 5,310 2,521 36,497 200 $ 154,000 389,525 22,017 $ 231,525 154,000 6,000 $ 249,101 $ 86,778 10,000 29,681 10,255 4,456 5,310 2,521 36,606 200 $ 154,000 403,101 18,222 $ 243,101 154,000

Uses of Funds
Stipends Commissions Wages Payroll Taxes Estimate Worker's Comp Health Insurance Pension CSUS Salary Reimbursement Vehicle Maintenance Printing Web hosting Tech support Software Awards Travel Occupancy Telephone Postage Copying Supplies Dues & memberships Subscriptions Meeting Expense Promotion/Marketing Equipment Credit Card Charge Insurance (Libel) Allowance for Bad Debt Misc. administration Outside Services/consultants Contribution to Contingency Fund Subtotal, Expenses ASI Admin Expense (6%)

55,400 5,000 3,000 100 5,000 56,710 4,365 850 3,500 600 900 270 800 850 3,000 3,330 5,000 1,000 3,000 600 950 250 1,500 3,000 1,700 3,000 3,000

57,339 5,500 5 500 5,000 3,000 100 5,500 58,411 5,000 1,100 3,300 600 950 250 1,500 3,000 1,700 3,000 3,000

59,059 5,500 5 500 5,000 2,000 100 6,000 60,163 5,000 1,200 3,600 600 950 250 1,500 3,000 1,700 3,000 3,000

60,831 5,500 5 500 5,000 2,000 100 6,500 61,968 5,000 1,300 3,900 600 950 250 1,500 3,000 1,700 3,000 3,000

62,656 5,500 5 500 5,000 3,000 100 7,000 63,827 5,000 1,400 4,200 600 950 250 1,500 3,000 1,700 3,000 3,000

64,536 5,500 5 500

100 4,150

65,742

UNRESTRICTED FUNDS NET RESTRICTED FUNDS NET TOTAL FUNDS NET

$ 158,209 $ 17,499 $ 25,980 $ 25,980

$ 133,448

$ 202,056 $ 20,130 $ 2,814

$ 133,448

$ 206,342 $ 20,480 $ 178 $ 178

$ 135,000

$ 207,856 $ 21,381 $ 262 $ 262

$ 148,500

$ 213,359 $ 22,042 $ 125 $ 125

$ 154,000

$ 225,507 $ 22,770 $ 824 $ 824

$ 154,000

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25,980

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2,814

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178

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262

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125

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824