Massey student mag ditches print edition

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 20/02/2014

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This year was meant to mark the 80th anniversary of independent student media at Massey University, but money woes have cut celebrations short.

Student news magazine Massive is making the move to digital as a result of funding difficulties.

Massey's four student associations - representing Palmerston North, Wellington and Albany campuses, as well as extramural students - announced yesterday the monthly publication would have its last print run next Wednesday.

Student leaders say there has been lack of progress about holding negotiations for financial support from the university to provide student media.

Massey is believed to be the first university since the Voluntary Student Membership Act went through Parliament in 2011 to can its printed student publication. The legislation ended compulsory membership of student unions, making it voluntary and voiding much of the association's financial support and ability to run promotions and publications such as Massive.

Student media now relies on support and guidance from the university to help it stay afloat. The university gives the Massey Wellington Students' Association, the primary owner of Massive, a $108,000 grant through its student services levy to run media and communications, including producing the magazine.

But the operational costs of content production, print, design, sales and marketing, and covering the wages of seven staff, is $150,000 on top of the $108,000 grant. This doesn't include the cost of running student media on a digital platform, such as a website and social media.

The Wellington association was drawing on its reserves to make ends meet, but after two years of no changes in its funding situation it had been forced to change its approach to stay sustainable, spokesman Mike Ross said.

"It's sad that the next generation of students coming through won't have a student magazine they can use as a stepping stone into careers."

Publications running at Massey's three other campuses - the Albany magazine Satellite, Wellington's Magneto, the extramural publication Off-Campus and Manawatu's Chaff, which was founded in 1934 - were dissolved post-VSM with Massive, as a national issue, launched in their place in 2012.

Massey University Students' Association president Linsey Higgins said the loss of print capacity was disheartening. "Independent student-to-student media is crucial on campus to ensure students are well aware of what is going on, especially when it comes to holding the university and the student associations accountable," she said.

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