BEND, Ore. (AP) — A community college in Oregon is cutting funding to its student newspaper, citing lack of interest from readers and potential student staff members.
Most young people don’t read newspapers and the idea of writing for the student newspaper is no longer popular, Ron Paradis, a spokesman for Central Oregon Community College told The Bulletin for an article published Wednesday.
A survey conducted in 2014 found that more than half of the school’s students didn’t know the newspaper existed and only 7 percent read it consistently.
Former adviser Michael Van Meter said The Broadside seemed reluctant to cover hard news and refused to report on the sentencing of Edwin Lara, a former COCC security officer who pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer in 2016.
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Katya Agatucci, The Broadside’s final editor-in-chief, said that during the spring 2017 term, she was the only active reporter for the paper.
The school paid a part-time adviser $50,000 annually with benefits, while $35,000 a year from student fees went toward operations, Paradis said.
A task force recommended to the administration that The Broadside adviser’s salary should go toward an adjunct faculty member who would teach journalism classes at COCC.
Anyone writing for the paper would need to enroll in a one-credit journalism lab, and any editor would have to be enrolled in or have completed a three-credit journalism class.
The administration rejected the recommendation last week, and the timing irritated Van Meter.
“Given it was midsummer, very few students on campus, few faculty on campus, it was easier to shut it down,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t done more openly during the school year.”
The paper’s staff had shrunk to 10 students from 20 writers. It was founded in 1953.
The Broadside began aggressively recruiting new writers through social media, Agatucci said, which temporarily increased staff numbers until many quit because they felt overloaded with classes and didn’t have time to write. She feels the school could have done a better job communicating about the issue, she said.
“With something really important, like seeing whether The Broadside is going to be around during the next term, it’s important to us, and we didn’t get a whole lot of answers, or communication,” she said.
Some former writers at The Broadside found their passion for journalism working there.
Scott Greenstone, who covers homelessness at The Seattle Times, said he likely would not have pursued a career in journalism were it not for his time at The Broadside.
“This is an awful time to be doing this,” said Greenstone, who was also The Broadside’s editor-in-chief.
Defunding the newspaper “is absolutely wrong no matter where you stand,” he added.
The community college offers two-year associate degrees and enrolls about 16,500 students on its Bend campus.
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com