Copenhagen ‘strangling’ university newspaper with proposed cuts

Plans to move University Post to intranet amid cost-cutting criticised by journalists

May 24, 2024
Main building of the University of Copenhagen
Source: iStock/carstenbrandt

A proposal to move the University of Copenhagen’s newspaper, Uniavisen, to the institution’s intranet has been condemned as a “lose-lose situation” by the publication’s editor.

Uniavisen, known in English as the University Post, is funded by the university but is editorially independent; it publishes primarily online, producing two print magazines a year.

The University of Copenhagen recently released draft reform plans that would see its yearly administration costs reduced by DKr300 million (£34 million), involving the loss of almost 400 full-time jobs.

Among the proposed reforms is the termination of the University Post’s physical edition as well as the publication’s “transition” from a public domain to the university’s intranet, in effect making it inaccessible to the broader public.

In an op-ed, University Post acting editor-in-chief Gry Bartroff Gaihede said the newspaper’s current website cost about DKr50,000 a year to run, while each magazine issue cost about DKr100,000 to produce and distribute. “While the financial savings associated with the proposal are minimal, the political consequence will be enormous,” she wrote.

“In my opinion, it will strangle the medium if the public no longer has access to the University Post,” Ms Bartroff Gaihede told Times Higher Education, noting that major national newspapers frequently picked up stories originating with the publication.

While describing the typical relationship between the newspaper and the university as “one of mutual respect”, Ms Bartroff Gaihede said she had not been directly informed of the proposals concerning the University Post, with a reader having pointed them out on social media after the broader draft reforms had been published.

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“It is our job to be a platform for open and democratic debate about all aspects of life at the university. Some stories are critical, as our readers may question decisions made by management,” Ms Bartroff Gaihede said. “This is obviously sometimes a challenge to the rector’s office and the communications department.”

“I suspect that part of management is tired of the University Post taking on a watchdog role,” she added. “Someone has gotten the idea to bury the media on the intranet to shut down the interplay with outside society. But that would be to the detriment of the current checks and balances of the system.”

A spokesperson for the University of Copenhagen told Times Higher Education that it was “too early to say” what the draft reforms would mean for the newspaper, adding: “It is still a proposal and not a decision.”

“In connection with a major restructuring of the University of Copenhagen’s administrative organisation, various initiatives have been proposed, including what could be saved by insourcing the distribution costs of the University Post,” the spokesperson continued. “There are many other proposals for reorganising the administration, and the whole matter is currently in consultation at the university pending the board’s discussion and decision on 19 June.”

Ms Bartroff Gaihede said several staff representatives were advocating for the newspaper to remain publicly accessible. “We still strongly believe that this proposal will be taken off the table,” she said. “Pressure is increasing, and many employees and students have raised their voices in favour of the University Post.”

“It would be a lose-lose situation for the rector, and I am sure he will come to his senses,” she added.

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