by Fernando Quintero
When the Daily Californian returned to campus last July after a less-than-amicable parting more than two decades ago, there were concerns among students and others that the fiercely independent publication would compromise its editorial freedom.
"People are still adamant about our independence and proud of it," said Julie Aguilar, editor-in-chief. "We still consider ourselves a watchdog of the University. We don't have an adversarial relationship, but we're not buddy-buddy. We're fulfilling our traditional journalistic role."
Beset with financial problems, the 123-year-old student newspaper moved back from its offices on Dwight Way to the sixth floor of Eshleman Hall, where the publication was based before it moved off campus as an independent corporation with its own board of directors in 1971.
After years of struggling with increasing production costs and a crippling mortgage, the newspaper signed a five-year lease with Associated Students of the University of California, which manages Eshleman Hall.
"We needed to save money. This was a good deal," said Aguilar, a fourth-year history major. "Students are glad to be back on campus. It's safer and closer. Whether we're independent or not, we're still the University's newspaper. It makes sense to be where it's all happening."
For Aguilar and John Bowman, the Daily Californian's new general manager, the first charge now is to bring the newspaper back to its daily circulation. Lack of funds forced the newspaper to shrink to a twice-weekly publication last fall.
"We don't have a target date yet, but our goal is to get back to daily by the second semester," said Bowman, a 36-year newspaper veteran who oversees advertising, circulation, and production.
Bowman said problems include the lack of advertising salespeople. "We essentially have two salespeople presently. This is a competitive market. Although we have our loyal customers, we don't get a break just because we're a college newspaper," said Bowman.
The newspaper has also had difficulties with collections due to poor accounting methods. Bowman said statements are now coming out more regularly and on time. His advertising staff is also pursuing past-due accounts more aggressively.
In addition, Bowman said the newspaper is working on lowering its production costs.
"My role is to run an operation that can support all its employees and provide editorial what they need to produce a great newspaper," said Bowman.
"Our primary mission is to train journalists."