Hatchet scholarship fund nears goal

The Hatchet’s scholarship fund is looking for one final push to reach the $100,000 before it is put use. The newspaper is also working against the clock as the University prepares to remove financial crutches.

Currently at about $80,000 , the endowment will eventually pay editorial stipends and business employee salaries, said General Manager Steven Morse. Beginning in June, interest made by the fund could help cover staff expenses. As the fund grows, income on donations will cover more of the costs.

Now is the time for alumni to make donations, as the University matches every dollar The Hatchet receives. GW will stop matching donations in December 2002, according to a timeline set when the fund was founded in 1997. The Hatchet also matches the first $50 of every alumni gift.

GW already stepped back part of its financial support in 2000, when it stopped paying the editor-in-chief stipend, which amounts to about half tuition. The Hatchet is also scheduled to begin paying part of rent on its 2140 G St. townhouse at market value starting 2003, instead of the $1 a year rate paid since 1993.

The stipends allow editors and student managers in the business, production and Web staffs to focus on their duties at the newspaper rather than working other jobs.

“The job consumes so much time that a side job would not be practical,” current Editor in Chief Russ Rizzo said. “If we’re working somewhere else, we can’t put out a good product.

Rizzo said financial independence is important to the paper’s independence from the University.

“That’s half the meaning of the word,” Rizzo said.

Morse said The Hatchet will use letters and phone banks to promote the fund, which has earned $3,800 in the past 10 months.

“We want people to give because they support student media at GW, in particular The Hatchet, which has provided students with real-world business and journalism opportunities since 1904,” he said. “(Students) are here for the experience, but they also need the money to afford the time to do it.”

Morse said the Hatchet Web site, launched in 1997, has provided more opportunities for student journalists but also created extra equipment and staff expenses for the paper.

If the endowment’s investment income cannot cover the cost of staff salaries, Morse said, additional money will continue to come from the operating budget. As the fund increases, more of the operating budget will be freed up for computers, reporter awards or to send editors to national journalism conferences, Morse said.

“In this economic climate (salaries are) a burden,” he said. “In flush times it’s no big deal, but in lean times it hurts.”

Morse added that the staff is downsizing slightly next semester due to members graduating or leaving for other jobs or internships, and the paper may have to cut positions or stipends in the future if it is unable to afford the salaries. Stipends and salaries comprise about half the current operating budget.

Morse said at a minimum, the paper would like to compensate the editor in chief’s scholarship from the fund. He attributes these costs to “the price of independence.”

“It will be a great feeling of relief and excitement when Hatchet editors are fully funded by the alumni that support us,” Rizzo added.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.