The Renegade Rip

STAFF EDITORIALCuts eat away at news coverage

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Friday marked the first time in 13 years that The Renegade Rip did not publish as scheduled.

Bakersfield College, dealing with the fallout from massive budget reductions by the state, has made deep cuts to the Journalism Program that are making it difficult for The Rip staff to do its job on deadline.

At the request of administrators, we trimmed travel and equipment funds and our printing budget, cutting down from 10 to only seven print editions per semester, which translates into reduced coverage of the news.

But that wasn’t enough.

The college, in further efforts to streamline and reorganize the way things work, has pummeled the Journalism Program with staffing cuts.

— The first victim: Rod Thornburg, The Rip’s 15-hour-a-week photo teaching assistant. When he returns from military duty, he will find that he has been reassigned to another area on campus, even though he has helped teach photography in the Journalism Program since 1983. The loss of that position, lessened only somewhat by the addition of a four-hour-a-week adjunct photo instructor, leaves our photo staff with little guidance from a seasoned photojournalist to help them prepare their pictures for publication.

— The second victim: Business Manager Robin Johnson, the program’s 30-hour-a-week department assistant. Johnson recently was transferred from The Rip to an office in the Fine Arts building, on the other side of campus. While she continues to handle the paper’s advertising and business affairs, she is no longer here to assist students and the public, assist with equipment, order supplies, or monitor us as we work on the paper in the adviser’s absence. Her relocation means our office is no longer open to Rip students or the public outside of regular class and production hours.

These cuts already have put a strain on our ability to get the paper out. The lack of support has resulted in missed deadlines and some long production hours. We’ve had to sacrifice covering certain stories simply because we don’t have the time to get them in the paper.

In the end, it is our readers who lose.

The Rip is a successful program with an award-winning tradition that dates back many years. Two weeks ago, the paper won 33 awards at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ Southern California Regional Conference, which staffers paid for out of their own pockets to attend.

If college officials want to see that tradition continue, they should support the program with the staffing it needs, since the newspaper covers the campus community and offers readers a public forum.

The Renegade Rip is the student voice of Bakersfield College, but these cuts threaten to reduce that voice to a mere whisper.

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STAFF EDITORIALCuts eat away at news coverage