A staff of 15 produces the twice-monthly tabloid that circulates 6,000 issues over four campuses. The transitory nature of community colleges doesn’t lend itself well to newspaper readership, but The Source has been able to maintain a large group of devoted readers. “I see many students reading it when it comes out,” says Dr. Sanford Shugart, VCC president. “I’ve been impressed with the articles that help explain college issues to the students.”
Gisondi says the secret behind The Source’s consistency is in setting a high standard and creating a legacy. “We’ve been able to build from year to year because we set the bar high,” he says. “My students ask me what they would be doing different at the professional level, and I tell them ‘Nothing. You guys are doing the same things they’re doing in the pros.’ When you set the standards high, I find people live up to them.”
The most significant improvement to The Source this year is its use of illustrations. The paper took on an exceptional designer, Nathan Szerdy, who was able to enhance many of the stories with a graphic element. “We abused the hell out of him,” Gisondi says. “We gave him everything we could, and he always came through for us.” The illustrations only added to the paper’s already strong story packaging. The Source makes it a point to include a visual element—photos, illustrations, sidebars, or infographics—with nearly every story. The paper incorporates in their solid modular design a creative use of word-art in headlines and uses white space well in feature layouts.
Timeliness can be a problem for a paper that only comes out once every two weeks, but The Source uses in-depth news features to overcome this problem. Gisondi says that the longer investigative stories—such as a story on international students getting married in order to stay in the country—are key in the paper’s national success.
The Source’s most obvious drawback is its use of wire services. A paper that only comes out twice a month shouldn’t be running canned wire stories, especially since it has enough time to take the story and localize it. As a whole, however, The Source has been the strongest community college paper in the state for the last four years. “We don’t worry about being best in the state,” Gisondi says. “We worry about being the best in the country.”
With the fall semester fast approaching, the future for The Source is unclear. Gisondi has accepted a position at an out-of-state university, and VCC has yet to find his replacement. The quality of a paper depends a lot on the strength of the advisor. Hopefully, VCC will find someone as strong as Gisondi to fill the slot.
Contact The Valencia Source at firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 582-1572.
The bi-weekly non-standard broadsheet is successful at covering the news and events at SCC adequately and fairly. Stories are clear and concise, and they cover a wide range of topics. “We’re a pretty liberal publication, and that shows in most on our opinion and features sections,” says Mike Riegel, editor in chief. “However, we do our best to keep our news section as unbiased and as fact-based as possible.” The Scribe puts less emphasis on in-depth features, but the few it does have are well written and investigated. An article on SCC’s automotive program was especially insightful.
The paper’s main weakness is its design. Interior pages lack creativity and are often text-heavy. Feature pages, where there should be signs of experimentation and originality, are indistinguishable from news pages. “They’re pretty much neophytes in the whole area of design,” Pierce says. “It’s hard to be innovative and new if you don’t know what you’re innovating from.”
With Pierce leaving SCC at the end of the semester, The Scribe is facing the same situation as The Source—an unclear future. As Tallahassee orders budget cuts for all schools, SCC and VCC may find it difficult to hire adequate replacements. “This is a hard job,” Pierce says. “I’m going to feel bad if they get someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
Contact The Scribe at email@example.com.
Another noticeable improvement in the paper is its overall content. With more in-depth stories and better written news and features, The Patriot Press increased its readership and feedback. “It’s becoming more of a forum for give-and-take,” says Advisor Dava Aiken Tobey. “The paper has provoked a lot of discussion, and we’ve received more letters to the editor this year.”
Although the The Patriot Press has made progress with its format change, design is still a major weakness. The paper has a high school feel to it with poor photos, sloppy layout, and boring font selections. Consistency is lacking as font sizes and leading change from story to story. Two nice additions to the paper are the cutout in the nameplate and the center-spread double-truck story.
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