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$0 to $9,000 in 90 days

By Jamie Hunter
On March 22, 2011

College Publisher is starting to charge up to $8,995 for the once-free content management service for online college newspapers.

The News Argus Online may be experiencing some major changes in April.

College Publisher, the online content management platform used by the Argus, has re-structured its business model and the new owners of CP, a branch of College Media Network, will now be charging for licensing its traditionally free software.

In January, The News Argus received a notice from CP announcing plans to re-structure, said The Argus online had 90 days to decide if they would pay for the service. A standard service plan is $1,995 per year. More advanced plans can carry a price tag of $8,995 per year.

The hefty fees being imposed have caused college newspaper editors all over the United States to seek other options available for their online publications.

"Our budget can't pay for the cost of their services," said Lona D. Cobb, faculty adviser to The News Argus.

The funds the Argus gets are to pay for office supplies, newspaper memberships, and publishing the newspaper. The senior staff member's stipends also come from the budget. Recent UNC System budget cuts will not allow for any extra spending.

The News Argus has used CP since 2003. The average number of visits to the Argus online is approximately 5,000 per month.

According to Mike Schoelch, College Publisher's client relations manager, CP is losing money by working with online publications that receive less than 25,000 views per month, like The News Argus Online, attributing the websites low traffic to weak content and bad self-promotion.

CP hosts more than 550 online college news publications, some of which receive more than 500,000 views per month. These are usually daily college publications that have a strong reader support program.

"Change was more of a necessity than an option," said Schoelch.

College Publisher has provided options for online news publications like the Argus that cannot fit the new CP fees into their budget.

For example, Wordpress is  a content management system that can be used to create a website or a blog. It provides more freedom to design a website the way that an organization wants it to look and offers technical support.

Wake Forest University and Salem College currently use the Wordpress platform. Another option for online publications is to build a website - a process that could potentially prove difficult if the staff is unfamiliar with HTML code and web design.

Chair of the Black College Communication Association, Valerie White, said the forced change may provide an advantage. Cobb agrees that it could provide students and their advisers with more hands-on experience by building their own online publications.

According to White, BCCA is planning to deliver a proposal to CP to attain a group rate for all of the HBCUs that are BCCA members. This would be great news for schools like WSSU and NC A&T that use CP.


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