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Posts from — October 2009

October 29, 2009: Former Canyon Call staffers honored at JACC

JACC

Five former staff members of the Canyon Call accomplished a feat last weekend that is worthy of mention in this web site.

The five won a combined total of seven awards at the two-day Journalism Association of Community Colleges 2009 SoCal Conference, held at Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 23 and 24 — and they were honored for accomplishments that occurred at a student newspaper that no longer exists.

The nominations were sent in during the spring 2009 semester under JACC’s mail-in category. Because COC administrators canceled the newspaper prior to the fall 2009 semester and the Journalism program was no longer around to pay its dues to JACC, the college is no longer an active member of the organization. That meant the five students who won awards were not on hand in Fullerton to accept them.

For the record, here are the names of the winners and the categories under which they won:

A J Sellarole, Second Place and Honorable Mention, Feature Photo

Melinda Noack, Honorable Mention, News Feature Story

Shawn Lee, Honorable Mention, News Photo and Photo Story/Essay

Nathalie Seguin, Honorable Mention, Sports Action Photo

Bruce McFarland, Fourth Place, Student-Designed Advertisement

Congratulations to all!

JACC is a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to community college journalism located in California. It is run by an elected board of directors who represent both students and faculty from around the state.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 67

October 28, 2009   Comments Off

October 26, 2009: A cut above

(Photo courtesy of Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

(Photo courtesy of Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The Signal reported in its Oct. 25 edition that Senior Staff Writer Brandon Lowrey has been promoted to City Editor.

Lowrey, a Canyon High School graduate, attended College of the Canyons and was actively involved in the school’s journalism program. He served as a staff writer and contributing editor at the Canyon Call, the now-defunct student newspaper of COC. Lowrey later graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 2007.

While at the Canyon Call, Lowrey earned the nickname “The Cutman.” Wikipedia defines a cutman as “a person responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a fighter during the breaks between rounds of a full contact match such as a boxing, kickboxing or a mixed martial arts bout. Cutmen typically handle swelling, nosebleeds and lacerations (commonly called cuts). The rules of full contact sports stipulate that these injuries can be a cause for premature match stoppage, counting as a loss to the injured fighter. The cutman is therefore essential to the fighter, and can be a decisive factor in the outcome of the match.”

Just as a cutman is essential to the fighter, Lowrey was essential to the success of the Canyon Call, and his skills as an editor and investigative reporter were a significant factor in the newspaper’s success.

Lowrey had the uncanny ability to write inventive photo captions, or “cutlines,” on deadline, a skill he developed at the Canyon Call that added greatly to the newspaper’s popularity on campus. The nickname was given to him by — who else? — the Canyon Call’s sports editor.

The Signal also announced the promotion of veteran reporter Josh Premako to the newly created position of Opinion/Business Editor.

This web site congratulates Lowrey and Premako on their well-earned promotions.

Click here to go to the full story in The Signal.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 64

October 25, 2009   Comments Off

October 22, 2009: Pierce College school paper picks up the Canyon Call story

The Roundup

The Roundup, the student newspaper of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, ran a news story on the plight of the Canyon Call. Student journalist Calvin Alagot’s informative piece was also featured on the paper’s online component, theroundupnews.com. Click here for the story.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 60


October 21, 2009   Comments Off

October 21, 2009: Mixed message or just irony?

COC 40th Anniversary Logo

(40th Anniversary Logo courtesy of COC)

Last week The Signal distributed to its subscribers a special publication entitled “College of the Canyons: Celebrating 40 Years of Excellence, 1969-2009.”

This 16-page, full-color special edition featured historical information about the college and several large display ads congratulating COC on four decades of educational excellence and service to the community.

It was a handsome piece, by any measure, but it left a lingering question in its wake: Why had the college utilized the local community newspaper to promote its anniversary?

Just prior to the start of the fall 2009 semester, COC administration eliminated its own 40-year-old student newspaper the Canyon Call, citing budget cuts and low enrollment as justification for the move. The college has since replaced the Canyon Call with an online student publication, Cougar News.

So, if print is dead, why use The Signal to publicize such an important milestone? Why not just do it online?

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 59

October 21, 2009   2 Comments

October 19, 2009: The hot seat on Election Day

ballot box

There’s a general election in Santa Clarita coming on Nov. 3, when voters will have a chance to elect two new members to the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees. Board seats Nos. 1 and 3 are up for grabs.

In the race for seat No. 1, Ernie Tichenor is stepping down, and there are four candidates vying for votes. This web site has no position on the race for seat No. 1.

However, it’s a different story with seat No. 3, where 16-year incumbent and board president Joan W. MacGregor is going up against accomplished local community and business leader Randy Moberg.

In this one, Moberg is our clear choice. We’ll explain why, with a little help from an editorial published in today’s edition of The Signal.

The newspaper’s op-ed piece summed up MacGregor’s candidacy this way: “No question, after 16 years of service, MacGregor has a thorough understanding of the college’s budget situation. But if institutional knowledge were the sole qualifier for office, John McCain would be president today.”

Moberg is CEO of LBW Insurance and brings more than 30 years of business and financial experience. According to The Signal, Moberg’s “leadership in the business community is widely recognized, having been elected chairman of the board of the Valley Industrial Association. He also serves on the COC Foundation board.”

But beyond this, Moberg wants to resurrect COC’s journalism program. Here’s how The Signal editorial summed it up:

The demise of the Canyon Call newspaper was only one step in scaling back the journalism program and folding it into the media arts curriculum.

We’re realists. Print journalism is not the be-all, end-all it once was. But news gatherers, quality writers and editors will be needed to generate trusted content no matter how it is delivered — in print or online.

We know this.

That’s why The Signal now publishes on multiple delivery platforms, including an exact digital copy of the newspaper at www.TheSignalEedition.com. We plan on remaining the SCV’s top choice for local news, sports and entertainment for a long time to come.

But we digress.

Our concern is not with the preservation of a school newspaper. That’s only the delivery method. What concerns us is the preservation of a program that teaches young people how to become competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers.

The program is called “journalism.”

Sadly, COC cut it — ostensibly because only seven students enrolled in it.

No. We are not advocating the salvation of programs with seven enrollees. The college can’t afford that.

What we are advocating — and what we want to see on the board — is the basic understanding that market needs will dictate that some programs must continue.

The alternative is to live in a community where nobody knows how to write a competent news story.

You got a problem with the reporting in The Signal today? Imagine not having it at all.

We’re already been forced to do more than just imagine what life at COC would be like without the Canyon Call. If you’re one of the 25,000 students who attend the bustling community college and want to express a written opinion in an open forum, lots of luck to you. There’s no way to do it.

The newly formed Media Entertainments Arts Division — made up of the RTVF Department and the remnants of the old Journalism program — has an online publication, Cougar News, but it won’t have an Opinion section until the spring semester, at the earliest.

COC administrators have made it abundantly clear they have no intention of bringing back the Canyon Call, saying the shift to Cougar News was intended to provide students with what they characterized as an “up-to-date journalism education.”

We take that to mean a broadcast-oriented watering down of journalism. Whether Moberg or anyone else can reverse the college’s decision remains to be seen. But unless we elect him, we’ll probably never know.

Click here to go to the complete Signal editorial.

Click here to go to an exact digital copy of The Signal.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 57

October 18, 2009   2 Comments

October 17, 2009: The Student Newspaper Survival Blog

studentnewspapersblog

There is a useful and user-friendly Internet resource available to students who practice the art of journalism at the college level.

The Student Newspaper Survival Blog calls itself “a collection of news reports, commentaries and tips on the craft of college newspapering.” The web site is designed to inspire student editors, reporters, page designers, photographers, cartoonists, columnists and critics — as well as the advisers and business managers who help them.

The blog’s author is Rachele Kanigel, an assistant professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. Kanigel is the author of The Student Newspaper Survival Guide.

According to the web site, Kanigel was a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years, writing mostly about health and medicine for the Oakland Tribune, the News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C., and the Contra Costa Times.

As a freelance writer, she has written for numerous magazines and web sites, including Time, U.S. News and World Report, Health, People, Reader’s Digest, Natural Health, CNN.com and MSNBC.com. She chairs the Professional Development Committee for College Media Advisers and is Vice President of the California College Media Association.

Kanigel’s current posts include an article about a Rowan University journalism student who put together a list of the Top 10 sites for online journalism students, a guide to using the iPhone to look up Associated Press style and a gallery of post-election college newspaper front pages.

There is also a listing of popular college newspaper links, as well as web site archives dating back to 2006.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 55

October 17, 2009   Comments Off

October 15, 2009: If this journalism thing falls through, there’s always welding

there's always welding

No doubt by now, COC administrators have received scores of emails, letters and phone calls from students, educators, journalists and private citizens who are gravely concerned about the loss of the 40-year-old, student-published campus newspaper the Canyon Call at College of the Canyons.

Gregory J. Brown advises he sent the following email to COC administration expressing his concern: “Not everyone can afford a laptop for information, but have a paper that everyone can read/enjoy/learn from, and you have a power. Having worked for the L.A. Times for 15 years and my father worked there for 43 years, I feel I can confidently say we are a newspaper family. My daughter was thinking about studying journalism at COC. What now? Welding? Bring back the paper!”

Brown received an email response from Dr. Mitjl Carvalho Capet,
COC’s Assistant Superintendent & Vice President of Instruction.

Here is the text of Dr. Capet’s response: “Thank you for your communication.  Journalism is not ceasing at COC. The program is being redesigned to reflect the current work world. I too am from a newspaper family. Our family newspaper was begun in 1906 on the east coast … so I am not opposed to the profession. By redesigning the program we hope to increase student participation, the program had dwindled to single digit enrollment.”

This web site acknowledges that enrollment in the five journalism classes supporting the Canyon Call was low. However, we believe the reasons for the low enrollment go beyond a simple lack of student interest or participation. Rather, we believe there was a systematic lack of support for the Journalism program by college administration, for reasons only truly known by the administrators themselves.

Beyond this, there is no evidence that those same administrators made any type of creative, good faith effort to save the newspaper. Instead, they simply eliminated the Canyon Call without any notification to the more than 25,000 students who attend the college.

That’s just wrong.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 53

October 14, 2009   Comments Off

October 12, 2009: At College of the Canyons, it’s not easy expressing an opinion these days

no opinion

Cougar News, the online publication tasked with picking up where the defunct Canyon Call left off, currently has no Opinion section. That means the 25,000 students who attend College of the Canyons have no opportunity to express the type of First Amendment voice that was a cornerstone of the Canyon Call for 40 years.

Cougars News, still in its infancy, does have three multimedia news stories posted to it:

Media Entertainment Arts Department Chair David Brill, in a Sept. 25 meeting with a representative from the coalition to save the Canyon Call, said he has plans to transform Cougars News into a more comprehensive news site, a process likely to be completed during the upcoming winter break. Brill said this would include an Opinion section.

“I believe that you have to have a responsible Opinion section, and that’s our goal,” Brill said. “It’s a valuable part of the education process, questioning ideas, decisions, questioning things that are happening politically. I’m not afraid of students actually expressing their opinion, but to do so with responsibility and respect.”

Linda Robredo expressed her opinion about Cougar News when she signed the online petition to save the Canyon Call. Robredo aired it out this way: “Posting to the Cougar News is a total joke, as they are non-responsive. There is no voice at this time. Returning the Canyon Call in print version during the transition till the ‘New Media Journalism’ department is fully established would bridge this unfortunate gap. Gap = a canyon were the COC journalism students have been pushed without notice, without voice, without reason.”

This web site believes that going a full semester without a proper outlet for students to express their views in a public forum is not in the best interest of the college, its students or the community. Savethecanyoncall.com intends to monitor the progress that the Media Entertainment Arts Department makes in bringing a vitally important Opinion section to Cougar News.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Click here to go to Cougar News.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 50

October 11, 2009   Comments Off

October 7, 2009: Paper could go up in smoke — Hart High students seek creative ways to fund the Smoke Signal

Hart High School

The Canyon Call is not the only student newspaper in Santa Clarita that’s in trouble.

According to a story by staff writer Tammy Marashlian in the Oct. 5 edition of The Signal, Hart High School’s student government is no longer able to fund the student newspaper the Smoke Signal due to ongoing budget cuts.

That has left nearly 30 journalism students with the task of covering $9,000 in printing costs for seven issues of the newspaper throughout the school year. Students must now hold fundraisers like a bowling night to make sure the paper gets into the hands of the student body.

Click here for the full story.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 45

October 6, 2009   Comments Off

October 4, 2009: Bulldogs Outmuscle COC, School Administrators Outmuscle Canyon Call


Allan Hancock College wide receiver Marquelo Suel (1) gets by College of the Canyons defensive backs Kalen Powell (15) and Larry Smith (23) on Saturday during the Cougars’ 19-16 loss to the undefeated Bulldogs in overtime. (Photo courtesy of Phil Vitek /For The Signal)

Allan Hancock College wide receiver Marquelo Suel (1) gets by College of the Canyons defensive backs Kalen Powell (15) and Larry Smith (23) on Saturday during the Cougars’ 19-16 loss to the undefeated Bulldogs in overtime. (Photo courtesy of Phil Vitek for The Signal)

The College of the Canyons football team knew it was going to have to battle in order to beat undefeated Allan Hancock College.

What the Cougars were not ready to overcome were missed opportunities.

COC failed to convert on three drives inside the 5-yard line and Hancock running back Thomas Sua scored from 1 yard out to beat the Cougars 19-16 in overtime in both teams’ National Division, Northern Conference opener on Saturday at Cougar Stadium.”

That was the story lead of staff writer Paul Putignano’s article in today’s edition of The Signal. Big news, four columns, above the fold in the Sports section. A nicely written story about the struggles of the College of the Canyons football team as it hosted undefeated Allan Hancock College on homecoming night.

Conspicuously absent from Cougar Stadium was the presence of anyone from the Canyon Call, the now-defunct, student-published newspaper of College of the Canyons. Ever since school administration pulled the plug on the award-winning paper and the five journalism courses that support it, there is no longer a Canyon Call reporter up in the press box honing a game story or on the field conducting post-game interviews. Canyon Call staff photographers no longer dot the sidelines practicing their craft, and there is no longer a newspaper in campus newsstands the following Tuesday giving the student body an inside look at the game.

And it goes far beyond football, the flagship of the College of the Canyons athletic program. Students can no longer pick up the Canyon Call to find out what’s happening in any of the other sports that comprise COC’s athletic program — namely baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, and volleyball.

The Signal does an excellent job covering Cougar football, but the paper’s staffing limitations preclude it from devoting much ink to the other sports on campus. That job used to fall on the Canyon Call, but those days are gone as of the fall 2009 semester. That means dozens of athletes, most of whom come from local-area high schools, will labor in relative obscurity going forward.

There are important stories that will never be told. News of significant individual accomplishment and inspirational group effort will not see the light of day. Simply put, it’s a damn shame, and the students and the community deserve better.

It’s time for COC administrators to reverse their decision to shutter the newspaper. There are creative ways to work around the budget shortfall. Administrators at Cerritos College proved it when they came up with a way to save the print edition of the Talon Marks by combining a handful of journalism courses to meet minimum class-size requirements.

COC administrators must find the means and the will to bring back the Canyon Call. There are currently 25,000 students who are missing out on news of the school’s athletic program and have also lost their best opportunity for a First Amendment voice on campus.

Please take the time to voice your opinion about the loss of the Canyon Call to the administrators on the left-hand side of this web site.

Click here to read The Signal’s coverage of the COC/Allan Hancock football game.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 42

October 4, 2009   Comments Off