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A new media baron: Student bankrolls independent Brandeis newspaper

By Andrew Lightman

WALTHAM – One week away from launching his new independent newspaper, The Indi, Ari Teman has his mind on other things.

His new big interest is cars. In fact, Teman said he is in the process of manufacturing one.

Even if Teman didn’t have his mind in other places, he said has no desire to write or report for the paper, and has no plans to edit either.

“I want to be the man behind the curtain,” he said. “The man in the background who keeps the machine running.”

He outlawed editorials, columnists, and opinion pieces from appearing in his paper, but otherwise his editorial team has free reign. And when Teman said he has complete faith in his team, it says a lot, considering he only employs students.

But then again, Teman is a student too.

Whether or not Teman, a Brandeis University sophomore, likes to admit it, he is distinctive among students. While many go away to college to learn about business, Teman is running his own.

And while a number of collegiates scramble for editorial positions at their college papers, Teman just decided to start his own.

“This is kind of like any other business that I get into. I saw a need that had to be filled, and I put together a team to fill that need,” he said.

For a few summers during his high school years, he consulted on Wall Street for companies like Morgan Stanley, and, while in the process, learning about identifying demand, and then supplying it.

Five years ago, Teman recognized that companies that excel at creating products often need help in selling or advertising. So he started a business – – to get these companies selling and advertising on the Web.

Now in college, Teman said his latest venture again fills a big void. His paper aims to bring information about upcoming activities to his peers, while providing advertisers with a direct connection to 4,000 young readers.

“A major component is Brandeis students aren’t going to clubs and events … and groups don’t have people to attend events,” he said.

By making his paper a link between students and activities, Teman believes his paper will be a success.

Editor-in-chief Cora Books, a junior sociology major, has been on the job for about a week. Already Teman’s wealth of business knowledge has caught her eye.

“We’ve got a lot of really good people on the staff, and a lot of the administrative issues are already figured out,” she said.

However, Teman realizes that his new gig cannot last long if it is not embraced by the Brandeis community.

“Because it’s a private venture, we have to pay for our survival. We can’t afford to put out four pages that people won’t read or don’t care about,” he said.

Teman plans to support the paper with capital from his online firm, but is hoping to fully support his paper with advertising. Its main competitor, The Justice, receives financial support from the university and from advertising.

“It’s always nice to diversify the voice on the Brandeis campus,” said Michael Socolow, who teaches journalism at Brandeis. “I think Brandeis students have a real curiosity, and I think they will welcome a new competing newspaper.”

Teman said that his mission, though, was not to compete with The Justice.

“Why do I have it? To report the news. And if you look at it that way, it’s pretty simple,” he said.

“I want it to be a professional, business-like paper,” Teman said.

“This will give people a realistic, more real-world opportunity. This, for them, is a very special opportunity to learn on the job, while balancing schoolwork and the paper.”

Source: The Dedham Transcript (Article was published in a network of local newspapers.)(Sept. 30, 2002)