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Eyewitness: Editor-in-chief for a day

Nicholas Knoske

Issue date: 11/20/09 Section: News
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Senior Kayla Gatalica, editor-in-chief of Case Reserve Review, says that her publication had just been in the process of expansion when the SEC referendum was proposed, threatening to set back the staff of the Review. Discussions, a student-run multi-discipline research journal is also at risk of losing its salaried members leaving non-engineering students with no outlet to publish their research. Senior Paul Hay, editor-in-chief of The Athenian, was able to expand distribution of the humor magazine by 100 copies this semester, but is unsure if that progress can be sustained if salaries are cut by the SEC referendum. Alex Aylyarov, general manager of Ignite TV, worries that the TV channel will have to cater to advertisers instead of students in order to attract ad revenue.
Media Credit: Denton Zhou
Senior Kayla Gatalica, editor-in-chief of Case Reserve Review, says that her publication had just been in the process of expansion when the SEC referendum was proposed, threatening to set back the staff of the Review. Discussions, a student-run multi-discipline research journal is also at risk of losing its salaried members leaving non-engineering students with no outlet to publish their research. Senior Paul Hay, editor-in-chief of The Athenian, was able to expand distribution of the humor magazine by 100 copies this semester, but is unsure if that progress can be sustained if salaries are cut by the SEC referendum. Alex Aylyarov, general manager of Ignite TV, worries that the TV channel will have to cater to advertisers instead of students in order to attract ad revenue.
[Click to enlarge]
There's been a certain back-and-forth of coverage and response regarding the recent decision by Case's Student Executive Council (SEC) to author a new referendum that will be held in the indeterminate future. The referendum aims to determine whether Media Board organizations should retain the salaries they currently receive via the Student Activities Fee (SAF).

The inchoative ire surrounding the issue arose last year when several SEC members discovered that several organizations on the Media Board had salaried members. Now, with much of the student government presumably in agreement, several representatives of SEC have pushed for the creation of the referendum and seek to either rescind the salaries or reallocate the money to other areas and uses. In a recent Observer article, Brian Browne, president of UPB, stated that the students he's spoken with are "turned off" by the existence of these remunerations.

It is a lot of noise. And yet all the noise has perhaps overpowered the most important voices involved in the dialogue-the voices that are at stake and would be most affected by the SEC's proposed vamping of the Media Board's funds: The Athenian, the Case Reserve Review, and Ignite TV to name just three.

"Everybody was disappointed," Paul Hay told me. "I think we felt that we weren't able to communicate or weren't given the chance to communicate effectively the importance and the justification for these stipends," he said. Hay is a senior and the editor-in-chief of The Athenian. He also holds an officership within the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

When I met Hay at the Observer office, where The Athenian is produced, he apologized for being two minutes late. He'd been meeting with someone in the Jolly Scholar. The editor of the humor magazine is, in fact, a very busy person; after the interview he was on his way to a campus Greek pride program called Greek III. But he offered me an hour to sit down and speak, to witness a dry-run of the magazine's production.

In the open office his voice echoed and he spoke slowly. "Well, I take as much pride in some of the things I've contributed to this publication as I do for some of my best class work."

He used a computer to revisit past issues for me, particularly an April Fool's edition that mocked The Observer. He leaned in toward the computer screen and read over one of the sections and snickered. "This is one of my favorite things I've ever written, a fake letter to the editor," he said. "It's so dumb. 'Come on,'" he recited, "'you can't ignore the cantaloupe!'" We laughed.

More seriously, though, Hay feels The Athenian offers students a chance to instill amusement in their lives on a campus that is often humorless. "I've always said humor is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the stress of real life," he offered.

Then he opened a future issue still being worked on, slated for release in December. There will be 1000 copies printed next month. Unlike the University's newspaper, of which there seems always to be a gross surfeit, the small humor publication has a somewhat limited circulation and printing capacity. When Hay became editor at the start of the semester, he increased the number of copies to be printed by 100. He hopes to reach more readers and make the campus more aware of the magazine. "A lot of it is word of mouth," he said. "I think we could do more."

Hay speculated, however, that the ratification of the SEC's referendum could potentially lead to fewer issues published. He worries that whatever small attempts have been made at expansion, may be undermined by the decision.

The SEC has suggested The Athenian sell advertising space to generate revenue that can be used to pay officer wages. But Hay does not consider this to be a practical option. "We publish material that some people might consider objectionable," Hay said. He rolled his eyes. "And it would be against the ideals of a campus free press to tailor our content or censor ourselves to sell ads."

The unwillingness to censor content in order to cater to potential advertisers is a sentiment echoed by Case Reserve Review's editor-in-chief Kayla Gatalica.

"We don't have content censorship," Gatalica told me later as we sat inside Starbucks. Gatalica was expressing, albeit more bluntly, what Paul Hay had already told me.

"If you write 'f---' in a poem, I'm not going to cut it out. I'm going to leave it there. I don't know if advertisers would want to associate with that."

Like Hay, Gatalica finds the proposed solutions to the salary cuts to be inadequate or implausible. And like Hay, she's heavily involved in her job as an editor. She is also a member of the SAGES Peer Writing Crew.

She ordered some kind of small coffee drink but hardly touched it throughout the interview; there was too much to say. The theme of the conversation was expansion. "We changed our charter," she said, "so now we can accept submissions from CIA and CIM. And now we're accepting nationwide. We're still growing." These changes would not only allow the Review to draw from a greater pool of talent, but also to reach a wider readership. Most reputable college literary journals accept submissions nationwide, and Gatalica hopes to adopt a similar role at Case with the Review.

"We're filling a vital void," she said. "The problem with it is that we aren't big enough to fill it completely. There are holes around us. And we're trying to grow and fill it out more, and it's getting better. But it's a slow process. It takes a lot of dedication."

Gatalica nurtures no illusion regarding the popularity of the Review. She knows the presence of the publication is small. But since her time as editor began over a year ago, the number of submissions to the magazine has risen each semester. Interest is growing and poetry, she says, is remarkably popular. Her goal is to expand the creative journal, but the curtailment of the stipends its officers receive would threaten to cripple its progress.

"There was a moment of panic," she said, "especially with all the changes we've made. We wanted to go nationwide. It felt like we were fighting the whole not-being-known thing on campus, and now it's like all our working power just got sucked out of it."

Overall, SEC recommended that the Review and other affected Media Board organizations find officers willing to work without pay. But those on Gatalica's staff are already the most equipped and most interested available, and even they aren't sure whether they can continue working if their wages are cut.

Again, the problem seems to stem from a failure to communicate. "I feel like UPB, for example, take themselves more seriously than they take us, instead of just realizing that we're different," Gatalica explained. "It's not that these guys are more important. Just that they're important in different ways. We're important in a different way. I feel like that's not understood very well at all."

She noted that some parties made no effort to understand, either. The issue appears to be personal, now, rather than objective, she explained. Gatalica told me that when the Media Board members were invited to explain the nature of their salaries, "it was very hostile" and that "it felt like they [SEC] already made their decision."

That same evening I heard the same story from Alex Aylyarov, the general manager of Ignite TV and another salaried member of the Media Board group who presented his case to the SEC.

"I kind of thought that the whole meeting was useless because I think they all made up their minds," he told me. "It was kind of a formal thing that they had to come and drag us in. But in terms of whether they wanted to listen to us, I saw a lot of eyes rolling, I saw a lot of smirks."

Though not currently well-known due to past stagnation, the student-run Ignite TV has served as a production vehicle for student television shows, public service announcements, news broadcasts, and so on. It has recently taken over both channels 14 and 15 of cable on campus, through which it hopes to broadcast (among other things) movies and student-created projects.

When I met with Aylyarov for the interview, he was busy answering the questions of a student representative of the Global Medical Initiative, which was holding its Clean Water Benefit in the Thwing ballroom. He assured her that he would be able to record the benefit with his organization's professional equipment.

She was appeased and we climbed to the third floor media room where Aylyarov does much of his editing. He showed me his current project, a video of last year's Greek talent show. Each clip to be edited or placed was listed and meticulously labeled in Final Cut Pro, the program used by Ignite TV to edit videos.

Aylyarov said that treating Ignite TV as a job "forces [him] to bring a level of professionalism to it that wouldn't be expected if it was just another organization." Without salaries this wouldn't be possible for him or other members.

"I understand where they're coming from," he admitted, referring to the SEC. Aylyarov has been involved with Greek life and other student groups which do not receive wages. "But the amount of work I put into those organizations compared to this one just doesn't equate to the same amount of hours," he said. "I never expected to get paid in those groups."

Unlike the Case Reserve Review and The Athenian, Ignite TV can very feasibly resort to advertising in order to keep its members salaries. But this would necessitate a substantial shift in values for the organization at a time when it struggles to return to a state of activity. To focus on advertising would distract and detract from the quality of the programming. , Aylyarov said.

"That was my goal," he said, "to get our name out there, to recruit members, for people to see we're on campus, that we are real. Before this whole thing we were planning a big relaunch." Now, the relaunch might instead be postponed due to the need for reevaluation.

Currently the referendum is being rewritten; meanwhile all three organizations (along with the Discussions magazine and others who might be affected by the changes) are preparing to present formal arguments against the referendum.
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In This Issue

News

  • Can you name this place?
  • Class inspires students to start CSEC
  • CWRU's Eco-Party
  • Eyewitness: Editor-in-chief for a day
  • Have you heard about Grupo de Capoeira?
  • Spectrum's sixth annual Drag Ball takes place Saturday
  • The college student's guide to credit cards - Part 3
  • USG creates transparency committee to improve communication
  • USG Brief

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  • Men win Veale Classic
  • Spartan Spotlight: Erin Hollinger
  • Spartans cap perfect 10-0 regular season
  • Spartans get first-ever win against B-W
  • Women's basketball drops lidlifter

Fun Page

  • Combo Scramble Solution
  • Crossword Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions

Opinion

  • Discriminating against smokers again
  • Editorial: CWRU athletics' accomplishments praiseworthy
  • It takes two to have unsafe sex
  • Nothing much humane about humanity
  • SEC referendum deserves impartial consideration
  • The gap year: volunteering
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Focus

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Cross Country

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Football

  • Bracket Breakdown
  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Trine

Sex and Dating

  • Passive pregnancy prevention plan

Soccer

  • Crooks UAA's Coach of the Year
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