Many will have noticed by now that the Torch has changed much since last spring. What readers may not have noticed, though, is that beyond its cosmetic differences, the action behind the scenes has changed the papers operation on multiple levels.
This summer the Torch struck a deal with the Big Rapids Pioneer that gave the Pioneer control over the Torch’s ad sales and revenue. The deal came at the behest of the College of Arts and Sciences and a team of consultants hired to evaluate the expense and efficiency of the Torch newspaper.
Prior to last year the budget for the Torch was fluid, with the staff paid by the amount they wrote instead of having set hours. Uncomfortable with not having a set budget, the pay system changed to an hourly rate so that the Torch’s yearly budget could a set number.
However, an even more significant change was handing over the entirety of the advertising section of the Torch to the control of the Big Rapids Pioneer. As an additional aid to the Torch, Pioneer decided to take on the Torch’s ad section and volunteering their own staff to do so at no cost to the Torch.
“They made a point of saying it wasn’t charity,” said Steve Fox, a professor at Ferris and the faculty advisor for the Torch newspaper. “They believe in the value in what we’re doing [at the Torch] and they’ve been a great help.”
The changes came at the loss of having ad sales located in the Torch office as well as all members of the Torch’s ad team parting ways with the newspaper itself.
The Torch’s contract to advertise through The Big Rapids Pioneer is currently set for two years, with a 90-day termination clause available at any time. Renewal of the contract depends on the outcome at the end of the two years, although at the moment the agreement is said to be an enormous benefit.