Article - Office of College Advancement

College newspapers fade as budgets change

By Kevin Hume.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010—Reprinted from San Jose University Spartan Daily. (Full article.)

Bill Parks with student.Bill Parks, the adviser for the Ohlone College Monitor in Fremont, looks over the paper during production with news editor Manika Casterline. —Photo by Kevin Hume, Spartan Daily.

Junior college newspapers in the Bay Area undergo rapid changes each semester, according to a former student president of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.

"Although a certain percentage of students (at community colleges) will be very interested (in journalism), it usually doesn't reflect the larger student body," William Cooley said.

Cooley, a senior photojournalism major at SJSU, said he was student president of the association from 2007 to 2008 while attending Santa Rosa Junior College.

Junior college newspapers are greatly affected by budget fluctuations, he said.

He said funding for college newspapers usually comes from a stipend of varying value from the state, advertisements the papers sell and from school budgets.

"Some schools, because of budget cuts, have sought to take money away from programs or to decrease those stipends," he said. "That has an impact."

Budget cuts have created an influx of non-journalism students joining the junior college paper because of other programs being cut, Cooley said.

"It provides them an opportunity to gain general ed units that they can apply to their studies," he said. "In the past, a lot of people were like, 'Oh, I don't want to take journalism. I'll take something else.' Well, if that something else is full or is not offered at all anymore, journalism becomes a viable opportunity for students."

The performance of a newspaper can affect whether it will stay or be eliminated, he said.

"When a newspaper on a community college campus is perceived as either unethical, or a waste of money, or the students are doing a very unprofessional job, it creates a climate in which cutting the newspaper is not a hard decision," he said.

Ohlone College

At Ohlone College in Fremont, the budget isn't the only issue affecting the paper's survival, according to the paper's adviser.

"They're hiring someone at 60 percent, a part-timer, to be the adviser of the newspaper," said Bill Parks, who is retiring after 15 years.

Parks said he isn't sure if "Midnight," Ohlone's student-run magazine, will continue.

"There's never been a regular budget for the magazine," he said. "We've sold ads and scrounged in order to pay for the magazine."

Parks said there will most likely be fewer editions of the Ohlone College Monitor, the school newspaper, next semester.

"There will be more (editions) online," he said. "It's such a struggle getting the print edition out. We've never quite made it up to the next level where the online edition then becomes the lead. I'm hoping that will happen under the new (adviser)."

Parks said community college papers need to be modeled after what's happening in the journalism industry.

"And what's going on in the business is that newspapers are going broke," he said. "The money isn't there. They're doing more online. For better or for worse, I think that's the way the Monitor will go and needs to go."

He said enrollment in the newspaper has been through the roof, but he echoed Cooley's earlier statements on increased enrollment because of a lack of classes.

"Because there's so many other classes that are closed, they've cut back on so many other classes, we had standing room only in here on the first day of class," he said. "Enrollment isn't a problem. Class availability is a problem."

Manika Casterline, a sophomore at Ohlone and news editor for the Monitor, said Ohlone and the Monitor are affected by the budget.

"This particular college is facing a $2.6 million budget deficit," she said. "In terms of journalism classes, we're getting people who aren't as committed in terms of (the) newspaper. It's more like they need to take a journalism class or whatever to fulfill requirements."

Casterline said she is worried about the state of the newspaper once Parks is gone.

"I'm concerned about the future of this particular paper just because I feel so deeply invested in it," she said. "I really would like to continue on (at the Monitor). I just don't really know, because the future's really uncertain right now as to what direction a new adviser would want to go in."

Parks said the Monitor won't go away with his departure.

"The administration on this campus like the Monitor," he said.

Donovan Farnham contributed to this story.

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