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Farewell to the Paper Boy

Jim+Munson%2C+Business+Manager%2C%0ARock+and+Roll+Legend
Jim Munson, Business Manager,
Rock and Roll Legend

Jim Munson, Business Manager, Rock and Roll Legend

J. Aaron Delgado

J. Aaron Delgado

Jim Munson, Business Manager, Rock and Roll Legend

Richard Molina, News Editor

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Jim Munson is a professor of journalism and the Business/Advertising Manager for the University Times (UT). This semester will be his last as he will be retiring and moving to Arizona.

Munson attended Cal State Fullerton to study communications and business but left to start a family and work full-time in the industry. After 40 years working with professionals, Munson came to Cal State LA to work with students.

In his free time, Munson likes to play bass guitar and tend to his boat. He has been playing music for most of his life and has been in and out of bands. Now he is in a Rock and Roll cover band that plays monthly shows in the Los Angeles area. After retirement he plans to make the most of his boat in Lake Havasu.

Q: How has the paper evolved during your time here?

A: We used to publish on a Thursday which to me didn’t make sense for a weekly newspaper. The old-school thinking for that was weekend business but that’s a retail mindset. You have a weekly paper that comes out on Thursday, it has all the ads for the weekend and people shop Saturday and Sunday and that works for a community newspaper but not a campus newspaper. So I changed it to Monday. It actually wasn’t solely my idea, a student came to me and said “why are we coming out on Thursday?”, which caused me to analyze it a little bit and I thought “yeah, that doesn’t make sense”, and he suggested “why not Monday?”. I thought about it and said “that makes a lot of sense, let’s do it Monday”. So when we did it, that actually immediately increased the pickup rate.

Q: What would you like to see happen with the paper after you’ve retired?

A: I’d like to see the progress we’ve made continue and continue to grow the circulation. I think that it could probably get to 4,000 copies with a little bit of work. Monitoring the boxes, the number of returns, moving papers around. It’s a bit of a shell game where you have 50 papers left over here, you have zero left over here, so you move another 35 over here so you try to balance it out to get the most out of those copies that you print because we’re paying anywhere between four and six hundred dollars a week to print the paper. So we want to make sure it gets picked up.

Q: What’s the most significant thing you’ve learned from a student during your time at Cal State LA?

A: I had to learn that you can’t reach everyone, and I wanted to reach everyone. I wanted to be able to see everyone succeed and excel. I saw that more in my lecture class but I also saw it in the newsroom. You’ve got certain individuals that rise to the top right away, their work’s on time, they don’t miss deadlines, it’s quality work, they care about what they do. And then you have other students who are kind of in the middle, then you have the ones who really don’t seem to care at all and you have to wonder why they’re here. On the positive side, when I see students that come through the UT, maybe they take my class and they move on to grad school or they move into a job in the industry, that’s very rewarding and I’ve never felt that in the professional world.

Q: What kind of music does your band play? What are your musical influences?

A: Rock and Roll. Mostly oldies but we get into 80’s and 90’s, a little bit of the 2000’s. People like to dance where we play so we try to play songs that are danceable. I’m a huge fan of ZZ Top and their bass player Dusty Hill. If you really want to get into precision-type playing, somebody like Jaco Pastorius is just an amazing bass player. Then there’s Stanley Clarke who is another one. Sting! I do admire Sting and his abilities. So I would say those would be my biggest influences. Timothy B. Schmidt from The Eagles too, I have a style more like his. He’s not real flashy but it’s the groove, it’s the bottom, it’s working with the drummer, which is important. The drummer right now that we’re working with is Jon Bermuda Schwartz, who is also the drummer for Weird Al Yankovic.

Q: What advice do you have for students facing today’s obstacles?

A: Staying in the journalism field, the print product still has relevance. But then just the other day in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly was bought and sold and the new owners cut 50% of the staff. Why? Because they want to pursue the digital part of it. Students say “why should I go work for a newspaper?” Because it’s a way to get a foot in the door. Broadcast journalism is a very difficult field to get into. You’ve gotta have internships, recommendations. You can’t walk out of here with a journalism degree and expect to get a job at the LA Times. You have to start at the bottom, if you will. That said, you still need to learn to write well and writing for a newspaper is going to give you that background, even if you go into the digital world, which is where the future is.

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