January 27, 2004

CW confronts staffing difficulties

An e-mail claiming the Chicago Weekly (CW) would fold if it did not find a staff of writers by this week circulated among students and administrators last Tuesday evening.

While the CW is aggressively looking for writers, the claim that the newspaper would fold this week if it didn't find them is false, according to its editors. Those familiar with the matter say that the CW will run regularly for the near future and, though the paper is short staffed, they are not considering a cessation of publication anytime soon.

The e-mail was sent by Milca Pierre, a third-year in the College. Pierre works for Akintunde Olusola, assistant director of the Reynolds Club and CW advisor. It remains unclear why the email made the claims that it did and why a correction was not sent.

Pierre did not return calls from the Maroon looking for comment.

"The e-mail was more than a bit exaggerated," said Amy Conners, executive editor of the CW. However, in a conversation last Thursday night, she said that two people were "writing it and doing everything."

"We don't have a staff," she said.

Conners acknowledged that it is difficult to put out the CW, and she said that the CW has started a major recruitment effort. "We'll see how it goes for a while," Connors said of the paper's future.

Sharlene Holly, director of the Office of the Reynolds Club, works closely with the University's Registered Student Organizations and agreed to comment on the situation facing the CW.  Holly said that Conners and Thane Rehn, the CW's Editor Emeritus, feel that they need additional writers to sustain the number of articles they want to run each week.

"I think they might be feeling that they are at the end of their ability to publish so short-staffed," Holly said. "They have certainly been feeling the pressure and know that they have to get some new blood."

The University has a number of student publications, but it seems that for many of them, the line between success and failure is very thin.

According to Daniel Sullivan, editor of the Criterion, the University is not helpful in aiding students with publications.

"The bureaucratic obstacles are often great and unreasonable, or else petty and annoying," Sullivan said. "As for writers, I think that students are not so much apathetic—the usual cliché around here—as they are busy."

Sullivan went on to say that students have their own social and academic world and that it is often difficult to divert attention to something unless they are willing to make it a permanent part of their schedule.

"I would say that getting writers and money requires a good deal of legwork on the part of the editors of a publication," Sullivan said.

The CW has been publishing at the University since 1996. Since that time, its has won several awards from the Illinois College Press Association. At the same time, they have also had a history of management and financial problems.

In October 2002, the CW was forced to temporarily stop publishing. Several months later, the CW began publishing with the backing of New City, a Chicagoland independent weekly newspaper.

Though the e-mail sent last Tuesday was erroneous in parts, the CW stresses that this should not deter interested writers.  The CW has meetings Tuesday evenings in the Reynolds Club and invites all to attend.