Summer 2015 included an email addressed to me from some girl that I’d met in a Creative Writing class the semester before. When I opened it a month after I got it, I saw that it was a suggestion that I should apply to some student group called The Anchor. When I learned it was the student newspaper, I decided it would be a fun thing to do to apply, so I applied that night and had my interview the next morning, which happened to be on the day that the best applicants were hired. Somehow I got hired for a job four hours after I was the final applicant for the position, which I guess is pretty cool.
Well, I moved to campus a week early, as was custom for paper employees, and I started my Anchor journey in the Fall Semester of 2015. Our Editors-in-chief were the fearless Nicole Metzler and Hope Hancock, who is now Hope Graves, which we’ll come back to later. Nicole and Hope went above and beyond in order to make sure that everything that was being under-performed by the previous leaders was fixed and started The Anchor on a path back to the success that it had experienced years before. At least that’s what it seemed like at first.
Fast forward a semester and suddenly I’m applying for the Co-editor-in-chief position, for a job that I barely squeaked through the interview over the phone when I sat in my pajama pants on a Saturday morning. Oddly enough, I somehow got the job and that summer found myself paired with Amber looking to hire a new staff. Now, while Nicole and Hope did a great job at making The Anchor successful, it turns out that almost the entirety of the staff was composed of seniors looking to graduate in 2016. Out of the twenty students that were on staff, we had six returning students. Twelve of the fourteen missing students had been seniors the year before, one went to England this semester, and the final was too busy with research to continue at The Anchor. While we did well that last semester, Nicole and Hope really put us in an incredibly difficult spot as we had to hire almost an entirely new staff.
The most difficult position to hire and one that would haunt us for the rest of the semester was the hiring of a new Ads Manager. Our Ads Manager last year was named Jake, and Jake, while he did bring in a lot of ads for the newspaper wasn’t the most organized guy. Hope and Nicole didn’t really do much about that fact either. While we did have an ads binder that gave the rates and suggestions for ads, it was very jumbled and overall was a giant mess. We were also told that Jake had a good candidate picked out for his job after he left, as most of the rest of us didn’t have much of an idea as to what he did.
So, Amber and I attempted to get ahold of Jake many times over the summer to get the name of that student, and for a long while, we heard nothing. We went almost the entire summer without hearing anything from Jake until Amber ran into him at the Resource Room and was able to get the name of Marty Dykstra out him. Marty is an amazing Ads Manger who is doing a crazy good job at selling ads and trying to get revenue for our small group. However, it’s incredibly difficult to sell ads when you don’t have somebody to do that job, and it’s hard to find someone to do that job when you have no idea what that job actually is. The old people in charge of The Anchor left us high-and-dry and in a lot of trouble monetarily.
Another thing that Hope and Nicole did incredibly successfully was selling subscriptions for The Anchor. Last semester we had over 200 subscribers all receiving the papers that we worked hard on every week. That was amazing and The Anchor really prospered over that time. However, like many other things, Nicole and Hope didn’t really plan for the future of The Anchor, focusing instead to improve it that semester. Amber and I were incredibly confused when we saw that we only had around 30 subscribers this semester, and when I asked a friend whose mother was a subscriber the year before, she told me that her mother had no idea she had to re-subscribe and was confused as to why she wasn’t receiving issues of The Anchor anymore. Apparently this woman wasn’t the only one with that confusion either, which was a major factor in the quick decline of the subscription count.
This small subscription count is actually so small that we can’t even mass mail out our issues anymore. Instead our Production Manager has to individually write out each envelope and put each issue in their own envelope and mail them out on their own. When I went into the mail room in the summer to learn about mass mailing, the lady working told me that they had issues with The Anchor last year and asked that I do my best to help them out and smooth things over. I agreed, confident that things would go over successfully. However I had no idea what I was in for. Two weeks later and I found myself in the office with Julian handwriting out addresses on envelopes, which I have done every week since.
Remember when I said that Hope is now Hope Graves? Yeah, she got married this past summer, it was super nice and I’m sure she and her husband are incredibly happy. However, nobody in the office was invited to her wedding, which sucks a whole lot after all of the talks of us being a “family.” It didn’t really do anything to hurt The Anchor, it just hurt all of our hearts a little bit.
The other day we received an email asking us about The Anchor’s finances. It turns out that we’re way behind on ad revenue and subscription income. As I said earlier, it turns out that it’s incredibly hard to sell ads without someone who is able to sell the ads, so that started us off at a disadvantage. Amber and I had to devote so much time to conducting interviews that we didn’t have a lot of time to worry about other things. And then, for the first few weeks of the semester, every time we thought we had a full staff, members would leave. We’ve only recently had a full staff for consecutive weeks for the first time.
So, Nicole and Hope did do a lot to help The Anchor, including helping us to get a new, amazing website that Melissa does a great job managing. However, it turns out that having all of your articles online for free will also deter people from buying paid subscriptions.
This is all without the mention that coming into this year we lost all money that was in our budget for paying our writers. It was incredibly difficult last semester to find people to write for The Anchor and truly become a voice of more people than whoever is on the staff while we had a little bit of funding. But now we find ourselves with no money in the budget to pay people, with the only incentive to write for the paper being that it’s a good experience and that it looks good on resumes. This one isn’t something that is Hope or Nicole’s fault, just another thing to make our lives more difficult .
In short, The Anchor isn’t necessarily struggling, but things haven’t exactly been super easy for the good people that work here. While those before us did a great job at making sure The Anchor was great, short-sightedness really came around to bite the next group of us in the butt.
So, if you or any of your family, loved ones, friends, family friends or the family of your friends want to get an Anchor subscription, don’t delay, do it. Do it now. We’d be eternally grateful. If Hope and Nicole did teach us anything it was to love our staff and all of our readers. We love you and your support.