102-Year-Old Pasadena City College “Courier” Student Newspaper Discontinues Print Edition, Goes Fully Digital

Published : Thursday, March 9, 2017 | 10:56 AM

The 102-year-old Pasadena City College Courier student newspaper will no longer publish a paper edition, Editor-in-Chief John Orona and Courier adviser Nathan McIntire said this week.

The weekly newspaper, which has been in existence for over 102 years, issued its last newsprint edition on February 27 and is going “fully digital.” It is reportedly revamping its online and social media presence.

First announced in a Facebook post on March 1, the decision is drawing mixed reactions from the campus community, with many expressing sadness that a century-old newspaper tradition is now giving in to the increasing preference for digital media over print, and others saying it’s just the way newspapers should go to survive.

Staff adviser Nathan McIntire told the Pasadena Weekly that the decision was made partly because of budgetary concerns and because more students now prefer digital media over the print edition.

On Monday, a story in the PCC Courier said the publication’s advertising manager, Daniel Nerio, had resigned for new opportunities, which “completely eliminated the newspaper’s advertising revenue.”

Editor-in-Chief Orona said he favors the transition.

“Ever since I became editor-in-chief, I’ve been in full support of this. It seemed like the obvious choice,” Orona said in a Courier story Monday. “First of all, it’s the 21st century, which is pretty much all digital, but we also lost our advertising manager, and that led to funding problems.”

The PCC Courier started as The Chronicle at Pasadena High School in 1915, nine years before the founding of the community college. The first black and white newsprint issue came out on February 4 that year.

As the college evolved first from a high school in 1913 to a junior college in 1924, so did the Courier.

The newspaper would go through several name changes throughout the century to reflect the times.

“It was first called the PHS Chronicle in 1915, and changed to the Pasadena Chronicle in 1931,” said Manya Manee Hakopyan, a library technician and archivist for the Shatford Library.

Almost three decades later, the newspaper was called the PCC Chronicle, Hakopyan said. The newspaper finally settled on the name PCC Courier in 1954.

The transition to online only will also mean the staff will now stop adding to the volumes of books in the PCC Courier newsroom that hold every print edition from 1949 to 2017.

The Pasadena Weekly reported that PCC Board of Trustees President Ross Selvidge was not aware of the change.

“I hope they include everything on the online version that they had in the print version, and I hope the online version will be easy to use,” Selvidge tells the Weekly. “The paper is very important. We need the students to get practical experience.”

Retired staff adviser Mikki Bolliger said she was deeply saddened by the decision, adding she felt like he was reading an obituary when she saw the Facebook post.

“It’s not that I expected the Courier to be around forever, but I certainly didn’t think the paper was at death’s door yet,” Bolliger told Pasadena Weekly. “I have always believed a printed paper is the heart of a journalism program, and I still believe that.”

The community college owns the equipment that produces the print edition and all other equipment in the newsroom, but editorial content is entirely produced by the student staff.

Many in the staff said they saw working with the PCC Courier a great opportunity for early exposure to journalism which they plan to pursue as a career, and with the shift now comes a new challenge to maintaining readership not only among the students but outsiders who have been used to viewing PCC news online.

Managing editor and social media manager Amber Lipsey says for many readers, logging into a news website isn’t a norm, and now they have to find ways to keep them reading anyway.

“People can keep up with picking up a new issue once they see it on the stands,” Lipsey said. “Busier people won’t remember to manually log in to our website every day. This was a risk I knew we’d face if we went fully digital, which is why I originally voted against it.”

On its YouTube channel, the PCC Courier posted a video of students and administration staff sharing their comments about the publication’s shift to being digital only.

Business major Vik Chitkara said he thinks the shift “is awesome.”

“I think in this day and age, nobody is really reading anything hard copy,” Chitkara said. “Everything is digital. It’s more convenient.”

Ryan Lagasse, a natural sciences major, said the shift was quite a shock for her.

“Makes me sad, that’s my first impression,” Lagasse said. “I think there’s something to be said for holding a newspaper in your hand and feeling it.”

Political science major Victor Reyes suggests more active promotion by the staff with the shift to digital.

“I think that’s really good,” he said. “I think they’ll have to define the platform and go out and promote that to students. I think it’s a little bit easier for them to go out and see it on the newsstand so they can actually read it, while online you get distracted. So you need to have some type of promotion or awareness for them to go out and view the stories that are going to be online.”

PCC’s Dean of Student Life Rebecca Cobb said she felt sad knowing she wouldn’t be holding her Thursday paper from now on.

“I’m sad,” Cobb says. “Well, I’m happy because that means I can access it fully online at any time, which I often do already on the weekends. But I also like my Sunday paper, so I like to have the Courier on Thursdays, and it is what I look for.”

She then shows on camera her latest printed copy of the PCC Courier.

Many of those surveyed on the YouTube channel also suggested ways of promoting the online-only publication – not only through social media but also with printed posters – to make students aware of the shift and the fact that they won’t be seeing the PCC Courier on newsstands any more.

Christine Michaels, who was editor-in-chief in 2014, said talk of the paper switching to online-only started back in 2011.

“People were talking about online media a lot, and that we’d eventually have to switch, too. It was a huge deal,” Michaels explained. “We started talking about how things had to be done early because the digital setting is a 24/7 cycle in a business week, and that on top of our website, we had to constantly monitor our social media outlets, too.”

Readers could finally be enlightened about the decision when the PCC Courier comes out with what it said will be the full story about it in the week ahead.

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