Here’s some big news at Pikes Peak Community College: The college newspaper has returned.
The digital publication, ironically called The Paper, refreshes every Wednesday at ppccpaper.org with a lively mix of news, reviews and feature articles. Stories have ranged from the perils of student sleep deprivation to an instructor’s enormous shoe collection.
The Paper’s predecessor, Pikes Peak News, had discontinued several years ago when key faculty retired. For most of my tenure, the college has been without a student newspaper.
Why revive it now?
It may seem counter-intuitive to expand our journalism program and start a student newspaper at a time when so many professional daily newspapers are struggling, shrinking and folding.
But look at journalism’s necessary skill set: writing clearly and concisely, analyzing complicated materials and boiling them to their essence, putting events into context, telling truth to power, vetting information for accuracy. These skills are as vital today as they’ve ever been.
The Paper began as a proposal out of our Pilot Project program, an initiative I started to collect and fund the best ideas from every level of our institution. Journalism instructors joined our communications director in pitching the idea for reviving the school paper. Our leadership team was impressed and quickly gave it the green light.
The Paper officially launched this fall, and I’ve been tremendously proud of their work. They’ve proved to be smart, resourceful and courageous, taking on a variety of daunting subjects, including how Washington’s reconsideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was playing out on our campuses.
I especially appreciate how our students have embraced civic journalism, making their primary goals not only to inform students but also to enhance their college experiences. That means they’re doing regular profiles of interesting students and faculty, covering extraordinary student achievements, while also writing about where to find affordable lunches near each campus.
When our student journalists covered some rather controversial subjects, our communications director, who also serves as an adviser to The Paper, asked me if I might grow to regret unleashing such aggressive student advocates on our campuses.
“Absolutely not,” I told him. “They’re supposed to keep us accountable, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
In a few years, no doubt you will see veterans of The Paper working in our wider community, writing for CSBJ, the Indy, the military papers, The Gazette, or starting their own blogs. I don’t know the forms that journalism will take in the coming decades, but I trust that those who can find and wield the truth will always discover ways to make our communities stronger and our leaders more accountable. I’m so proud that our students will have a hand in that.
Lance Bolton, president of PPCC, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.