An Interview with Tony Rogers
Bucks County Community College - The Centurion
Could you start off and briefly describe the newspaper/student media at your school for our readers, how often you publish, what you cover, anything else you’d like to share?
I run the journalism program at Bucks County Community College, located in the suburbs north of Philadelphia. The student newspaper is the Centurion, published roughly biweekly throughout the academic year. The paper has a circulation of 2,000 and covers campus news and other topics that students are interested in. The Centurion also has a website: www.bucks-news.com.
What are some successes you’ve experienced this year at Student Media?
Every year the Centurion competes in a statewide college journalism competition known as the Keystone contest. This year the Centurion won six awards in this contest and since 2010 it was won more than 70 awards.
What were some challenges this year and how did you handle them?
The ongoing challenge of publishing a student newspaper at a two-year college is the constant turnover in staff. We just start to get reporters and editors trained and then they are transferring off to a four-year school.
What do you think student media will look like in 5 years?
I'm not one of those who thinks print journalism is going to disappear anytime soon. At present there are roughly 1,300 professional newspapers across the U.S., and those papers need people who have the kinds of skills associated with producing a newspaper, including layout and so on. That's why I think it's important that student newspapers continue to produce a print product. In fact, I've written several articles about this for my about.com journalism website:
Obviously I can't speak for every student newspaper, but with MediaMate overseeing our advertising we are generating more than enough revenue to pay our printing costs and even have a little money left over, so I think it's well worth the time and effort to produce a print publication. Also, students tell me there's nothing like seeing other students on campus picking up the paper and reading it.
Do you think papers need print editions and why?
I think I answered that in the previous question.
How do you think papers should improve readership, print and digital?
News is always a combination of what people need to know and want to know. I think if student newspapers can accomplish that, they will have readers. On the digital side, there are lots of ways to engage readers, including the increased use of things like digital video and using social media to promote content.
How would you describe the mission of Student Media at your school?
To cover events at the college as well as possible, while giving the students who work on the paper a solid grounding in the fundamentals of journalism.
Can you describe your staffing structure, including students, advisers, and professionals?
I am our college's only journalism professor and only faculty advisor to the student newspaper. Students who take journalism classes are required to write for the paper, and we have a small staff of editors are willing to put in the extra time to produce the paper.
How is the staff trained?
Through the journalism classes I teach.
Are students paid? If so, is it stipend based or hourly?
We have a limited number of journalism scholarships available for editors, and students who are eligible for work-study can be paid for working at the paper.
Do students receive credits for participating in student media?
No, though their coursework is closely intertwined with the production of the paper. So students in our reporting courses write the stories for the paper, while students in the editing course edit and lay out all the stories.
How is your paper funded?
Our funding comes from a combination of advertising revenue and funds allocated by the college through student activity fees.
What is your paper doing to manage any budget challenges?
Since students aren't directly paid for working on the paper, our biggest expense is printing. Fortunately we have enough money to pay our printing bills.
What is your biggest wish for student media?
That they continue to be successful and, wherever possible, continue to produce print publications in additional digital content. I think a lot of so-called "experts" in the media have proclaimed the death of print journalism much too prematurely. Most newspapers still get the majority of their revenue from the print product, while digital ad revenue has fallen far short of expectations in many cases. Because of that, I think newspapers are going to be around for a while, which is why it's so important that college students are able to learn their craft at student papers.