The board and editorial committee of MERIP met over the first weekend of June. The main item on our agenda was structural adjustment — not a detached analysis of Egypt and the World Bank, but a wrenching confrontation with our need to bring the costs of this organization and magazine in line with the income we generate.
For MERIP, as for any political publication project, sales of our magazine, pamphlets and other information services do not cover the costs of operation. As an independent project, we have no support from a university or other institution. To make up the shortfall, we solicit support from foundations, churches and other organizations interested in seeing our work continue. And we depend on you, our readers, to send us contributions each year.
The crisis and war in the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991 generated great demand for our work. The result was increased sales and circulation, and increased support from foundations which previously had shown no interest in the Middle East. For a time, we were able to bring in the funds necessary to sustain ongoing operations and to devote resources to building sales and circulation.
These efforts have paid off: Our subscription base remains higher than it was before the war, and continues to grow steadily. But we have been unable to maintain and increase funding from foundations and institutions. As a result, we face a deficit this year of more than $60,000.
We intend to continue our efforts to raise these funds, of course. But to the extent that this deficit is structural, one that we will face next year and for as long as this imbalance between income and expenditures continues, we are also making some very painful cuts in MERIP’s expenditures. Senior staff salaries have been reduced by 10 percent, employer contributions to staff retirement have been suspended and we will be reducing our full-time staff from five to four. Because of these staff reductions, and to reduce production costs, we will be reducing issue size from 48 to 32 pages, and also reducing photo and design components of the magazine.
None of these decisions, or other reductions in office operations, are easy. Staff salaries are already low. Reductions in staff will require that we decrease aspects of our program and outreach work.
These reductions, moreover, will go only part way in eliminating this deficit. We must, in addition, turn to you, our readers. Your response, quite frankly, will determine what kind of presence MERIP will have in 1994 and beyond. If Middle East Report, and MERIP’s overall record of independent critical analysis, is something you want to see available in the future, we need to hear from you.
If you normally read Middle East Report in a library, or if you buy it from the newsstand, please subscribe. If you are a subscriber, but have not yet sent us a contribution for 1993, please do so now, and be as generous as you possibly can. If you already have contributed, please send an additional amount in response to this appeal.
If this project matters to you, if you want Middle East Report now and in the months and years ahead, please help us today.