Central Oregon Community College’s student newspaper, The Broadside, ceased publication in the 2018-19 school year, ending a 65-year run. But after pressure from the college’s faculty and former president Shirley Metcalf prompted the college to reevaluate that decision, The Broadside will return for the 2019-20 school year in an online-only format.

In May, Metcalf approved recommendations from a 10-person work group — which included COCC faculty, staff, a local journalist and a student government representative — to bring back the student newspaper.

“As a college, we’re very excited to have it back,” said Alicia Moore, COCC’s dean of student and enrollment services, and a member of the work group.

The Broadside’s shift from printing a physical newspaper to publishing stories online was spurred by Rowan Matthews, the work group’s student government representative, Moore said. Matthews told the group that “students won’t read information in print,” she said.

However, The Broadside will occasionally produce special print editions, possibly for events such as graduation or for compiling the most-read stories for the year.

The new Broadside is expected to have a minimum of five to six students: an editor-in-chief, one editor handling photos and the other handling news and opinion articles, and two to three students acting as reporters, photographers and designers.

At least one student reporter will be asked to cover COCC’s smaller campuses in Redmond, Madras and Prineville.

“We serve the greater Central Oregon region, not just Bend,” Moore said.

COCC will hire a part-time faculty adviser who will oversee the program and serve as the instructor for the required class accompanying The Broadside. That class, a one-credit pass/fail course called Publications Lab, will meet for three hours a week and will consist of Broadside staff meetings, as well as time for student journalists to report and write articles, according to the college.

The adviser’s compensation will be about $39,000 a year, including health care and other benefits, Moore said. The paper’s operation budget, which will come from student fees, will be $40,000 annually, a $5,000 increase from 2017, Moore said.

Students who wish to work for The Broadside must be enrolled in six or more credits, including the Publications Lab course, and be in good academic standing. The editor-in-chief must have completed two higher-level journalism courses: News Reporting and Writing I and II.

The goal is for The Broadside to publish at least 20 articles per term in its first year, and 30 per term by its second, according to the college.

In July 2018, the college said it was closing The Broadside because of a lack of student interest.

A 2014 COCC survey found that more than half the school’s students didn’t know there was a student paper, and only 7% read it consistently. However, in August, Metcalf, then the school’s president, said she wanted to reopen the newspaper after receiving “considerable input from faculty, staff and students.”

COCC Board Chairwoman Laura Craska Cooper said she and the board were thrilled to have The Broadside return, so the college could help train future journalists, as well as give students an outlet to have their opinions heard.

“I believe that journalism is really important in general to a good, functioning democracy, and in particular, I believe students need to have a voice,” she said.

Scott Greenstone, a reporter covering homelessness for The Seattle Times who was The Broadside’s editor-in-chief during the 2013-14 school year, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the revamped newspaper.

He said he was happy that COCC plans to invest more money into it, but expressed concern about having the paper be mostly online. He said he hoped that the college would find creative ways to direct students to The Broadside’s website, as the paper’s online views during his tenure were “negligible.”

“I hope they know the hard road ahead of them,” Greenstone said. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘People will read us if we’re online,’ I know from personal experience that this is not true.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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