At the beginning of last academic year, The Prodigy News had four members, and no funds. In order to build a school news organization, we asked ASUCM for $2,000. We received $700 as a part of the budget line item. With that $700, we built a new website from the ground up, held several recruitment drives, and had eighteen members pledged to join this academic year. Now, we produce articles daily (or more often), we have an executive board of six members, and a full-time staff of twenty-six members, as well as several part-time writers and photographers. We are active on multiple forms of social media, where we reach on average 5,000+ people a week. We are branching out into video content, continuing to recruit members, and attempting to reward our members, all while maintaining our goal of posting daily content on our website.
Is our content perfect? Probably not, but we have a group of highly dedicated people putting in work on an entirely volunteer basis to build a school newspaper out of almost nothing. This year, to continue to grow The Prodigy News and serve the student body better, we asked ASUCM for $7,700, and instead received $2,000 as a budget line item.
At tonight’s presidential debate, we were accused of misusing funds, and essentially told that we needed to first learn how to handle our money before we can receive more. We are not business executives, and we are by no means professionals, but here is what we have spent ASUCM’s money on this year. Out of our $700, we spent $200 on hosting our website for the academic year. We spent $120 buying Prodigy branded notebooks for our staff, to reward them for their hard work. We spent $30 on AP style guides for our editors to use. We purchased an entry-level DSLR camera and videography/photography equipment with the remainder of the money. This allows our photographers and videographers to gain valuable experience even if they don’t have the means to purchase expensive equipment themselves.
And then we were out of money. At tonight’s presidential meeting, we were compared to UCLA’s newspaper, The Daily Bruin, which has existed for nearly a century now, receives tens of thousands of dollars from its student government, and can provide commission based compensation to its writers and photographers. As it stands, we aren’t capable of that. We don’t have enough money, and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to get it. But we’re going to keep trying anyway. We are going to continue expanding and meeting our goals. By the end of the 2017-2018 school year, we would like to have 50 dedicated members producing content twice a day. We would like to further integrate ourselves with local Merced news sources. We would like to have the reach to begin advertising, and generating our own revenue. And we would love for our student government to put just a small amount of faith in us, and help us in these efforts.