According to adviser Patricia Stark, The Channels staff decided not to continue print issues due to college-wide staffing cuts.
“We were pushed this way, we had little option,” editor-in-chief Morgan Cullen said. “We’ve been receiving a lot of sympathy from staff — a lot of instructors are saying it’s funny that we have a top-10 school without a print newspaper.
“We’re considering this as a hiatus,” she added. “We’re hoping to have the LTA (lab teaching assistant) position filled — (the college) needs to offer some sort of teaching aspect to the program.”
Lab teaching assistant Palmer Gibbs resigned in August to attend graduate school at Georgetown University.
Gibbs, a former senior copy editor for the Santa Barbara Independent, coordinated print production deadlines, and served as a primary journalism and design source for the staff.
As a result of budget constraints, SBCC cut a number of other LTAs from different departments over the summer, Cullen said. About half of the assistants were rehired for the school year, but Gibbs’ position was not filled. Instead, the college hired an administrative assistant to take over organizational aspects of the publication.
“She is a keyholder — she helps with staff lists, but she doesn’t have any InDesign or graphic-design experience,” Cullen said.
In a Sept. 17 editorial, The Channels addressed SBCC’s decision to not replace Gibbs.
“What is most confusing to the staff at The Channels is the mixed message that the college sends,” the editorial said.
International students made up more than 30 percent of The Channels’ staff for the past two years, said Cullen, herself an international student.
“At the (City College) level, all of the tuition that international students pay goes directly into the college — that’s the money we need right now,” Cullen said. “People come to Santa Barbara for this sort of program. We’re the ones putting a lot of money into the school and we’re the ones who are being cut.”
According to Cullen, print issues helped keep the publication self-sustainable, which included stipends for editors.
“Without a print paper, we lose that opportunity to be self-funding,” she said. “(We) need to have a lot of online readership in order to be a viable source of income. By not having print newspapers, it disables us in a sense. That’s why we hope it’s primarily temporary.”
The staff is expanding The Channels’ online presence by utilizing social media, publishing stories daily and incorporating weekly multimedia content, as opposed to monthly. Cullen said the faster publication rate will enable The Channels to be the primary news source for SBCC-related issues.
“This experience will be very helpful,” she said. “It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone as an editor, a leader and a writer. It’s representational of where the industry is going — people want their news short and fast.”
Although the online format enables The Channels to increase its content, Cullen said the visual design element of a print issue is lost.
She said students would pick up a copy of the newspaper because of its visual appeal, and she expressed concern over the lack of design online and losing students. The Channels will continue to engage its student audience by getting student opinion for every story, Cullen said.
“We’re adjusting,” she said. “I think it will make our program stronger, but I don’t think it will be the same program if it’s online (only).”