Miina McCown/The Broadside
In mid-2018, Central Oregon Community College decided to shut down the school’s longest-running institution, The Broadside student newspaper. After a two-year trial period, the now exclusively online news outlet has recently been approved for continuation by the COCC school president.
The executive decision was made to close down the newspaper essentially due to shrinking staff numbers and a lack of readership. In 2018, staff had decreased down from what was previously reported from the task force as 20 members to only ten students working in the cover editing, sales, photography, and reporting departments.
Additionally, it was reported that readership was down to less than 150 per publication, with student success rates of those registered in classes for the paper being far below institutional standards, and student positions often were unfilled, with many fluctuations in low staff numbers.
In June of 2019, several new assessment metrics were established. If fulfilled after a two-year trial period, The Broadside would be allowed to continue. If not, the paper would be permanently eliminated. The publication did not take place during the following 2018 to 2019 school year, and in the fall of 2019, with the hiring of a new advisor for the program, The Broadside restarted in an exclusively online format.
Teresa Ristow, Advisor to Student Media, remarked that while improvements began small, the paper experienced a gradual buildup, maintaining a staff of about eight to ten students each term, with many students returning for more than one term working for The Broadside. Each term, pageviews to the website continued to grow, and the social media audience strengthened, with general improvements in content.
“I am delighted that the board has decided to continue the Broadside,” said Seth Root, editor in chief. “As you know, our team has worked very hard to get where we are today. So, we are pleased about the board’s decision. My hope going forward is that The Broadside continues to bring the news to its readers who are near and dear to our hearts.”
At the end of the trial period, reports found that The Broadside’s success rate in student success, student learning, staffing and readership far surpassed the metrics originally set.
Scott Greenstone, COCC alumni and editor in chief of The Broadside from 2013 to 2014 who went on to work at NPR and The Seattle Times, remarked that he is “really proud” of the staff of The Broadside as well as supporters at COCC who fought for the paper when it was threatened.
“I hope the message to COCC’s administration and Student Life is loud and clear: there should always be a place for independent student media on campus,” said Greenstone.