How Community College Journalism can thrive amid Cannibals and Zombies

“To be living in interesting times is to be cursed.”

This is the motto for the community colleges that are losing, or have lost, their school newspapers.

Zombie Rodolpho Reis  [Creative Commons] Click to view Source & License.

Zombie by Rodolpho Reis on Flicker. Click to view source.

It just so happens that out of 29 community colleges in Washington State alone, over half of those schools have lost their papers. It is due to reasons such as: budget cuts, cutting journalism programs, no student interest. The question that they were asking everyone is “Who’s your zombie?”

According to Andrea Otanez, Everett Community College instructor, the “zombies” are a vast array of many different topics. Some of these topics include: not keeping journalism relevant at community colleges, a campus that doesn’t fully support the paper, fast-moving technology, web and print, training for jobs, and community colleges are only two-year institutions.

How can students and staff make it to where these “zombies” don’t come onto every community college campus, totally wiping out the school newspaper and the journalism program?

Jeanne Leader, dean of Everett Community College, seems to think that the enemy is within the campus. She also thinks that since journalism is cheap to have around, and that newspapers always seem to do better with a journalism program, schools need to keep papers on the budget.

“There are certain community colleges that get bad press from the students and the staff about certain articles that were written,” said Leader. “We’re here to inform the community about what is happening, not about people’s hurt feelings. If they don’t like what was written, then they shouldn’t have said anything. Our challenge is to engage the community, and if stories are not relevant, then how will we inform the community and move forward as a student newspaper?”

Leader suggested offering students anywhere from $10-$20 for just one article. That way they are making the students get more involved. Leader also said that every paper is about quality or quantity. It doesn’t matter if your paper is a few pages long. As long as the articles are well written it doesn’t matter.

Leader suggested that to get students more involved, to try holding a booth with “swag”, such as free food, games, or free merchandise with the paper’s logo. It is all about underselling and over delivering.

Aaron Alan, a community college student, said that his school no longer has a student newspaper because there was no budget for it and the students weren’t very supportive of the paper in the first place.

For more information on what is happening to today’s newspapers visit

“My school has been without a print newspaper for about four years now,” said Alan. “We were told that the reason why it got cut was because of certain articles that were written, and that they were not very suitable for the students to know. Students have the right to know everything, and if the only reason why they shut us down is because we wrote about a staff member that was doing something illegal, then I know we’re doing our job right.”

Alan and some fellow students have created an online edition of their old newspaper, and are continuing their journalism endeavors, informing the students about the community.

What do you think?