The Legislative Gazette Faces Budget Trouble

The Legislative Gazette, a staple of the internship program of the communication and media department of SUNY New Paltz, has recently eliminated stipend offerings for interns and cut the internship coordinator position due to their tightening budget.

Joseph Brill, who served as both deputy editor and internship coordinator since 2005 according to Editor James Gormley, left the weekly newspaper on Aug. 31. Publisher Alan Chartock said the decision to cut the position from the budget, in addition to the stipends previously afforded to student interns, resulted from the lack of revenue available as compared to the costs of running the newspaper.

“There is not a newspaper in America, from The New York Times down, that has not experienced a terrible need to conserve based on everything that has happened with the Internet,” Chartock said. “The challenges we face are identical to those faced by every newspaper in the country.”

Brill said Gormley will assume his newsroom duties for the publication that covers state politics in Albany, N.Y., in addition to becoming the student recruiter. Gormley, who said he will be recruiting interns for the publication while teaching courses like Public Affairs Reporting and Journalism 1 on the SUNY New Paltz and Albany campuses, said Brill’s presence will be missed.

“Joe’s personality was one we enjoyed and he lightened up the newsroom,” he said. “Also, while I was on different campuses teaching, Joe was in charge. That means the interns will be working by themselves a little more than in the past, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Chartock said the stipend offered to the staff comprised entirely of student interns was also eliminated to compensate for losses in an “already tight budget.” The stipend was designed to help the student interns living in Albany while working for the Legislative Gazette full-time pay their rent.

Internship Coordinator Robert Miller said the obligation to move to Albany and other factors deter some SUNY New Paltz students from enrolling in what he described as an excellent journalism program.

“While this is an excellent internship opportunity, it does not appeal to many of our students,” he said.  “Interns must spend the semester in Albany. Also, the internship is focused on political reporting which isn’t of interest to all students.”

Gormley agreed that the idea of political reporting may not appeal to SUNY New Paltz students in the same way it does to their peers in Albany who he said have shown more interest in interning for the Legislative Gazette in recent years.

“Students who go to SUNY Albany are in the state capital, so they have more exposure to government and politics,” he said. “It may be more ingrained in their thought processes. The culture of [the New Paltz campus] may inspire more artistic writing and stuff that’s not necessarily political.”

Gormley and Chartock both said they don’t think the elimination of the stipend will have a great effect on their recruitment, however. The six tuition waivers available to students with qualifying grade points averages will still be offered.

In spite of the recent “tightening of the belt,” Chartock said he and others involved in managing the Legislative Gazette will be able to ride through a rough economic patch with the quality of the internship program intact.

“As long as we’re prudent, the future of the paper is not in danger,” he said.