System Business Officers

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  • 1.  Managing Newspaper Subscriptions & Payments

    Posted 01-27-2022 06:19 PM


    I am part of the University of Illinois System and one of our areas of responsibility includes monitoring and collecting news coverage of our universities and distributing a daily newsletter of headlines. We collect online clips from national, regional and local newspapers and publications, as well as television websites. To accomplish our task, we currently have digital subscriptions to 12 different newspapers, including large publications like the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, along with various local outlets from our university communities.

    As you can imagine, managing 12 newspaper subscriptions can be an inefficient process between tracking renewal dates, changing subscription rates, fluctuating subscription lengths, and acquiring receipts and proper documentation. Subscriptions we can purchase for a year or more and not too much of a hassle, but the monthly ones can become quite a burden. Also, generally, dealing with the customer service/call centers for newspapers is a pain.


    We also run into trouble using our university purchasing cards to pay for these subscriptions, as doing so requires exceptions to standard university purchasing card policy. Many newspapers now require payment to be monthly and for a card to be kept on file to charge automatically, which we need special approval to do. That requires additional documentation, of course.

    We are wondering if anyone does anything similar with newspaper subscriptions or runs into any of the complications mentioned above. Any tips, tricks or advice on how you may manage a large number of subscriptions for a university office would be very helpful. Thank you!

    Karen Mayberry McFarlin

    System Offices Shared Services (SOSS)
    University of Illinois System – Office of the Chief Financial Officer
    558 UOB, MC404
    507 E. Green St., Champaign, IL 61820
    217.333.5713 |

    Karen Mayberry McFarlin
    Director of Operations Support, Office of Business Services
    University of Illinois University Administration

  • 2.  RE: Managing Newspaper Subscriptions & Payments

    Posted 01-28-2022 09:22 AM
    HI Karen,

    While we are much smaller, our library manages a number of periodicals for student use here and then we have several publications for Employer law and management.  We have not run into anyone telling us as college that we can't renew and send a check, but I'm sure the day is coming since I had another vendor just recently start charging us a $15 admin fee every time we pay with a check.  Back to periodicals, one of the challenging aspects as you said is managing renewal periods.  We have one that 3 months after we renewed started sending us renewal notices.  What we started doing is putting a note that appears on the invoice entry that includes that account number and the number of years for the renewal.  So I would type 123456 (1yr) and this information prints on the check, but is also visible when you look up the vendor so that you can easily see if in fact you do need to renew.  We noticed that some vendors generate a new account number when they send to a new person, that is why we included that as well.  CFO moves on, new person comes in they send the "hey you need this publication" notice to new person while still sending renewal notices to old CFO.  What we have then been able to do with the information in the invoice that we entered, is call the publication and have the one person removed and the new person added to our account, eliminating duplicate notice with different account numbers.

    Hope that helps!

    Dawn Alonso
    Williamson College of Trades