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Monday, March 24, 2008

Unpaid bills force Howard to halt publication of newspaper

Forty eight thousand in unpaid bills have forced Howard University officials to halt publication of the school's student run newspaper the Hilltop. The Hilltop, the nation's only black run daily newspaper, owes the Washington Times more that $48,000 in outstanding printing costs.

Drew Costley, a Howard senior and The Hilltop's top editor for the 2007-08 academic year, said administrators "went against protocol" and independently decided to stop publication of The Hilltop indefinitely after it was revealed that the newspaper owed its printer, The Washington Times, $48,000 for printing during the fall semester.

Costley said the decision to stop publication resulted from an "illegal vote" taken without a quorum at a March 6 meeting of the policy board that governs the paper.

Ron Harris, director of the office of communications, confirmed that publication of The Hilltop has been suspended. "The university administration is not happy that school newspaper is not being published. They're having conversations right now to discuss how did this happen, are there systemic problems, and what do we need to change to make sure it doesn't happen again." Harris also said discussions were underway to determine if the printing bills could be paid.

During the March 6 meeting, Costley said administrators suggested stopping publication, but Costley said he motioned to continue publishing through March 21.

According to Costly of the $48,000 owed to the printer, $20,000 is at least 120 days outstanding and the remaining $28,000 is between 60 and 90 days late.

Costley said in December 2007, he found out that the business staff had not sent out invoices to advertising clients for a month and a half, causing $40,000 to $45,000 in lost revenue.

The Hilltop had a $250,000 budget and a staff of 40 people.


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