The Holy Grail for community college publications

In the 30 or so years that I’ve been involved in JACC one idea that has come up time and again and never come to fruition is that of a wire service style of sharing news.

Most ideas brought forth have centered around Sacramento area schools originating quality legislative news we can all use or sharing of sports stories and photos.

And I now read where industry cousins have so cut their travel budgets –in a time where the wire services are less popular and the Internet is delivering hyperlocal competition– that sports news consortiums are forming.

Kind of brings back memories of JACC’s holy grail.

Efforts in the past have failed for a number of reasons:

1. Lack of an easy-to-use sharing tool. You’d think easy tools like e-mail, we pages, Flickr, etc. would have leveled the field, but too many of our programs (advisers who mist understand them and be the glue to our high-turnover staffs) are not and may never be tech savvy enough to adapt to anything but a dedicated tool actually designed to do these tasks.

2. Lack if consistency in quality and reliability to process content quickly.

3. Lack of buy in. Not only do some staffs lack the wherewithall to contribute, more see their publications as proprietary. They’d rather underserve their readers than use content from another publication. (Some even think doing so should — or does — disqualify a publication from our General Excellence contests).

I see the mission of my program as two-fold: train students in my program AND serve the campus community with the best news coverage we can muster.

Gaps in what we do or don’t do will open the door for innovators to come in and make us irrelevant. How many of you would fear and fight a commercial entity that, for instance, contracted with our athletic departments to provide a localized web site or print product that gave timely and complete sports coverage in exchange for cooperative access to contest results and coach/athlete quotes? Sure, it would be highly filtered, but I’d bet our sports readers wouldn’t object all that much in exchange for better service.

We should discuss these kinds of issues and innovate before we’re someday innovated out existence. Or we could stick our heads in the sand.

At every JACC conference we should have innovation roundtables to discuss issues like this. Not with an agenda to always walk away with the latest gerry-rigged tool, mind you, but to explore buy-in as much as innovative service solutions.

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