Thu, 08/17/2017 - 05:41

Posted by Tamara Baluja on February 21, 2014

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

The Canadian University Press (CUP) will lay off 12 part-time staff effective March 1.

The newswire, which is a non-profit co-operative of Canadian campus newspapers, has a projected deficit of $7,000 for this year. President Erin Hudson told J-Source that if CUP cannot raise $50,000 in a campaign launching next week, the cooperative will likely shut down.

“This was a very hard decision,” Hudson said. She said the organization attempted to cut costs by trimming health benefits for national staff as well as her salary, but that still wasn’t enough. “The decision was based solely on CUP’s dire financials, which constitutes a state of emergency for our organization,” she wrote in a memo.

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The warning signs have been there: 10 years ago, the co-operative had more than 90 members but now has only about 55, with many of its oldest members—such as The Varsity (University of Toronto), The McGill Daily, the Dalhousie Gazette and  UBC’s Ubyssey, leaving to form an alternative newswire last year. Those who left criticized CUP’s high membership fees for the services it provided.

CUP has also run a deficit the past two years.

“For the last two years, we’ve been running a deficit higher than $7,000 and we have no savings to drawn on anymore, so we can’t sustain that,” Hudson said. According to 2012 year’s budget, CUP spent around $140,889 for a staff of 17. The president and the national bureau chief were paid about $36,782 and $33,662 respectively and the co-operative’s total expenses were around $341,089.

Six bureau chiefs, three editors and two support staff were amongst those let go on Thursday, Hudson said. 

Still, Hudson remains optimistic CUP will be able to pull through with its fundraising campaign and a grant-based partnership with the National Campus and Community Radio Association currently underway. “We have a few tricks up our sleeves. We’re not going down without a fight,” she said.

With files from Laurent Bastien Corbeil

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J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.