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Devil Strip Magazine Board Sees a Path Forward -- With Help From Akron

Devil Strip timeline.jpg
The Devil Strip
At a meeting for members of its co-op on Wednesday, The Devil Strip's three remaining board members shared a time line of events from the paper's founding through this month, when the entire staff was laid off due to insufficient funds.

The board of Akron’s “The Devil Strip” say they see a path forward for saving the arts and culture magazine – but it’s going to require input from the community. Six of nine board members have resigned, but the rest held a meeting for the magazine’s co-op last night to answer questions about why “Devil Strip” staff were laid-off earlier this month due to insufficient funds.

Board member Katie Robbins says the magazine’s reliance on grant funding there is more than $100,000 in debt to vendors, creditors, and the government.

“We’ve been able to piece together that a lack of internal controls led to restrictive funds being used for other purposes than what they were intended. We know, for example, that money earmarked for people’s salaries was not spent on their salaries.”

Robbins adds that they will need volunteers with financial and legal expertise to sort out whether debt occurred before or after the conversion to a co-op in 2019. "The Devil Strip" was founded in 2014 by journalist Chris Horne, who stepped away on a sabbatical last month, citing mental health issues.

An online fundraiser was launched soon after the layoff announcement, and has raised a third of its $75,000 goal.

Robbins and the other board members said publishing the paper is unlikely to resume by December, and some community members in attendance asked if they might consider re-launching the paper on a digital-only basis at first.

Members of the co-op have until the end of the month to vote on whether to fold or choose a path forward. Their next meeting is scheduled for November 17th.

Information on volunteering is here. Advertisers who need to request refunds can do so by emailing directors@thedevilstrip.com, which is also the place for questions about the future of the magazine.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. While a Kent State student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.