Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 7. April 23 1968
Focus Gains Subsidy Till End Of Year
Focus Gains Subsidy Till End Of Year
The national student magazine FOCUS will be subsidised for the rest of the year.
This decision comes as a result of protracted debate at Easter Council.
Speaking to a Canterbury motion 'That NZUSA discontinue the publication of Focus in its present form," Auckland President Ross McCormick said, '"In Auckland we don't feel we want to support a magazine that is not all it could be. This magazine should show that it has 22,000 students behind it. Its cover does nothing for it."
Mr. McCormick then asked Focus editor Heughan Rennie, "What is your general policy on content? I feel very strongly that the magazine is not carrying out all the aspects of what a good national paper should do. It should have good controversial articles, but it should also have news on what is happening at the universities."
A final motion specifying financial aid for 1968 was proposed by Canterbury and passed unanimously — "That NZUSA contribute a sum not exceeding $210 for the next three issues of Focus, of which a sum not exceeding $60 per issue be provided for improving the cover and a sum not exceeding $10 per issue for payment to contributors."
Outlining the history of Focus since its beginning as "Student News", Mr. Rennie pointed out that when it had made early attempts to publish huge quantities of student news, local papers objected that they were being outdated or upstaged.
Answering criticisms of Focus covers, Mr. Rennie said: "I agree the cover is not brilliant, but it has been ruled solely by cost. I believe the intention is to hold costs to an absolute minimum and I have tried to underspend every item on the budget."
To an Auckland suggestion that Focus be financially self-supporting, the magazine's Advertising Manager, Mr. Paul Peretz, pointed out that advertising had tripled and that Focus had actually made a small profit.
"This is very unusual in the publishing world in the light of the economic situation," he said.
"NZUSA should be spending money now−it is a very bad year—to keep advertising up so that we will then be able to point to consistent quality all the way through and have a store of consistent advertisers. Next year our advertising problems should be over, provided there are no further drops in the prices of wool and butter," Mr. Peretz said.
"It is not normal or logical to expect Focus to break even," added Mr. Rennie, "and to make a profit of about $400 is most remarkable."
"And what do you call 'breaking even'?" he asked. "What may be profitable for NZUSA can actually mean a loss for us. With our advertisements for The Student Travel Bureau and the student insurance scheme we lost much advertising from insurance and travel firms. We don't suggest these schemes should be dropped, but by making profits for NZUSA they are cutting our throats. Facts such as these must be considered when thinking about 'breaking even'.''
"Despite the very high professional status of many of our writers, our total payout for the last issue was $10." Mr. Rennie said, "Focus is absolutely at the bottom of the payment stakes and it is very hard to ask men to give their best when we are offering only $2."
The Canterbury motion lapsed at commission level for want of a firm seconder.
Saying that "a national student newspaper is a good thing, but nothing is worse than a bad national paper". Mr. McCormick then proposed an alternative motion— "That NZUSA discontinue publication of Focus in its present form unless in the next three issues it becomes financially self-supporting."
NZUSA President John McGrath suggested that review be postponed until 1969 Winter Council. "By leaving it only till the end of this year," he said, "I don't think we are giving it a fair trial in a fair economic situation."
This motion was then withdrawn and replaced by another Auckland motion which was passed—"That in principle Focus be a self-supporting publication."