I’ve mentioned before that I hate doing payroll.
I guess part of the reason I hate doing it so much is that I see how much everyone gets paid — and it’s so depressing.
For how much everyone in the newsroom works, it’s honestly a slap in the face how much we get paid. It’s hard for me to send the paychecks to the controller each week when our section editors are there until 2 a.m. and aren’t even making enough to cover their rent payments.
I do what I can, but I work within the restrictions of the Alligator’s budget. And believe me, those are big restrictions. On the one hand, I don’t want to send the Alligator into bankruptcy with the newsroom budget. The future of the entire industry is unclear, and that includes college papers. I want the Alligator to be here for years to come, but I don’t really know where we stand — I’m not included in those kind of financial meetings.
But while I do worry about the paper itself, the Alligator Mom in me would like people to be able to buy food.
As the managing editor, it’s my job to stick to the budget. It’s just hard when I interact with these people every night to see them do difficult jobs for no recognition and meager pay.
I don’t see an easy way of solving this — maybe alumni donations would help. Maybe we could get some kind of grant — after all, the Alligator is a nonprofit. Any ideas in the comments would be greatly appreciated.
I’m curious about how many other managing editors have to deal with the budgets of their college papers — because I do, and it’s my least favorite part of the job.
I do payroll for the newsroom every week as part of my managing editorial duties. Between pulling briefs from the wire and editing stories, I ask people for paperwork and discuss why paychecks have come up short.
Here’s how our budget system works: During the summer, the managing editor for print comes up with a budget for the entire newsroom, which the next semester’s staff has to work with. So you have someone making a budget that they might never have to work with — but future editors will.
I can’t see a good way to get around this. The budget is confidential, and the fiscal year starts near the beginning of the semester, which doesn’t give the new managing editor enough time to come up with a new budget. I’ve already run into a couple things in the budget that I can’t work with. Fortunately, our general manager is incredibly helpful and willing to work with our needs.
I could be worrying about much scarier budget issues. Thankfully, I don’t have to cut staff in response to falling revenues or worry about having enough people to cover the news.
I do wish I didn’t have to worry about plugging numbers into Excel spreadsheets every week, and it’s probably a job I won’t ever have to do again in the “real world” of journalism. But maybe dealing with the Alligator budget will give me new and practical insight into journalism — an industry increasingly boxed in by dollar-sign restrictions.