A Taco Bell “Live Mas” logo will be erected atop the Highlander newspaper office to welcome its new corporate management on April 5, according to Editor-in-Chief Michael Rios. At the cost of a nacho cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, the Highlander was purchased by Jane Schmitt, CEO of Taco Bell. The privatization of the 60-year-old campus newspaper aligns with the decisions made by the UC regents last week to remove all state funding from UC Riverside.
“This is dope, yo,” Rios explained. “It was a collective decision within the Highlander Editorial Board.”
In reaction to the state divestment from UCR, the Highlander staff unanimously voted to end all reliance on student funding and advertising revenue, which they viewed as “unstable” and “shaky at best.” The Highlander began as an independent student media outlet from 1954 up until 2001, when students passed a referendum that allocated $1.50 in student fees to support the newspaper. The newspaper is mainly funded through advertising revenue from local businesses to cover its overhead and printing costs.
Highlander staffers say a key factor behind the vote was the Crunchy Taco Supreme, which consists of premium seasoned beef, crisp lettuce, diced juicy, red, ripe tomatoes, real cheddar cheese and topped with cool reduced-fat sour cream, in a shell molded from nacho cheese Doritos chips.
Schmitt explained that she does not desire to interfere with the functions and operations of the Highlander, but rather seeks to improve it. “The best place to market right now is on college campuses,” Schmitt said. “That is where most of our customers lie. And the best way to reach out to students is through local media.”
In an effort to dominate all forms of campus media outlets at UCR, the Taco Bell corporation is launching extensive contract battles against competitive businesses, such as the Walt Disney Company for the ownership of ASPB.
At the same time, the shift to private funding will mean that the Highlander will no longer remain an independent media source as it will fall under the jurisdiction of the Taco Bell corporation. Schmitt contends that advertising revenue may continue to serve as business donations for the Highlander, which will keep its operations autonomous from the restaurant chain, but all print or digital media may not infringe on the goals of the restaurant itself.
According to a recent press release, all content produced by the Highlander newspaper will be generated by R’bots — university robots geared toward the purpose of producing more efficient and time-sensitive content — effective fall 2014. R’bots will be extensively utilized for the purpose of gathering and reproducing all online information that may be considered “newsworthy” to the UCR community.