Utah Valley Community College's student newspaper is "going downhill on roller skates," an administrator says.
Wayne Kearny, vice president of student affairs, said the quality of the College Times has declined drastically the past four weeks. He and a board of advisers decided Thursday to cancel the next two weekly editions to give the paper's staff time to recruit new editors and get additional training."The pictures are cropped unevenly, they accidentally use two kinds of type in the same story, there are lots of spelling errors, dropped words and layout problems," Kearny said. "Anyone can have a bad day, but the problems have lasted four weeks. The paper is going downhill on roller skates."
Kearny said that in one recent edition he found 54 major errors on the front page.
Staff writers said the paper has had problems since losing two editors, yet to be replaced. Some editions are put out by only four students and an adviser. They also cited lack of training programs and the predictably high turnover of students in a two-year college.
Tom Hover, director of student services, said he does not feel the paper's quality represents what college students should be capable of.
"It doesn't serve the student body to put out a rag like this."
Student writers said earlier they believe the decision to close the paper down for a few weeks was an attempt to censor the press. Hover said that although he questioned the choice of stories and use of vulgar language in the paper he never had attempted to censor it.
Other board members raised objections to the use of pen names to make the newspaper staff appear larger and to the fabrication of letters to the editor. Students said advisers had told them to write their own letters until more started coming in from readers.
Board member Linda Walton urged students and administrators to stop trading accusations and focus on how to solve the problem.
"It's silly for us to all sit around" and get mad at each other, Walton said. "Let's figure out how we can solve the problem."
She told students that long hours and pressure are part of the publishing business.
"Everyone in the newspaper business has someone chewing on his fanny. If you think this is bad, wait until you get into this professionally."
The advisory group directed Darcy Butcher, the paper's part-time faculty adviser, to set up a series of training seminars in the next two weeks. The advisory group also will advertise for a new production editor, layout editor and news editor.
The group will investigate the paper's financial structure, which no one on either side seemed to understand. Administrators also will discuss whether staff members should be paid with a tuition waiver and stipend rather than by the story.