Craven Community College has had several student newspapers since the college was formed in 1965. The Campus Communicator began in 2002 as a project of Phi Theta Kappa, which began publishing a newsletter to keep students, faculty and staff up to date on campus events. A desktop publishing class at CCC produced the first few issues with submissions from students and instructors. In November 2002, PTK member William R. Toler took over layout of the monthly publication.
As interest grew and student writers signed on, the Communicator branched off from the honor society that founded it. Toler and Marcia Yates were the first two student staffers. Several more signed on in summer and fall 2003, and Penny Round, a former reporter at the Sun Journal, was named editor. During Round’s tenure, the Communicator ramped up its advertising sales and switched from letter-size paper to 11-inch by 17-inch newsprint. CCC provided a work-study position for the paper’s design and pagination, and Eric Voliva, who had joined the newspaper staff as a sportswriter, became production manager.
Corey Friedman succeeded Round as editor in October 2004 and Toler was named managing editor. CCC administrators confiscated all 1,100 copies of that month’s issue because of a front-page story about an on-campus fight that included the name and address of a student assault suspect. College President Scott Ralls kept the papers under lock and key in the mailroom until student editors agreed to blot out the address – which was obtained through a public records request from the county sheriff’s office – with correction fluid. The paper voluntarily applied Wite-Out to the student’s name upon request of the accused student.
The Campus Communicator joined the Associated Collegiate Press and in December 2004, the newspaper published its first broadsheet issue. The student paper continued to grow and at one time listed nearly two-dozen student staffers in its masthead. It remained headquartered at CCC’s flagship New Bern campus, but added a bureau at the college’s Havelock campus. Chip Foss served as the Communicator’s first and only Havelock bureau chief.
In March 2005, the Communicator published a sex advice column penned by student Amanda Worley. A backlash from students, instructors and community members followed, and the Communicator announced it would cancel the controversial column. CCC administrators proposed a new operating policy for the paper that would establish an advisory committee of students, instructors and college officials to review disputed editorial decisions. After determining that such a panel could act as a censorship committee and would violate student journalists’ First Amendment rights, the Communicator turned to the Student Press Law Center and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for help.
Months of debate and discussion followed as prominent free speech advocates urged the college to scrap its proposed policy. Ralls and Executive Vice President Cindy Hess held a series of meetings with student editors to craft constitutional guidelines for the paper, and in late June 2005, officials confirmed that the student paper was editorially independent of the college.
Many Communicator staffers graduated in 2005, and the core group of student editors – Friedman, Toler and Voliva – began publishing the Independent Register, an alternative community newspaper, in the fall. After completing the September 2005 issue, they left the Communicator to concentrate on their business venture. Remaining student staffers weren’t able to generate enough content or advertising to keep the paper afloat, and it ceased publication after the September issue.
In 2009, student Becky Epley formed a campus club that oversaw publication of Craven Columns, a monthly student newsletter. It is no longer in print.
Toler is currently working to relaunch the Campus Communicator. CravenCCNews.com went online in October 2010 and will feature campus coverage and commentary as the new student paper’s website. It is sponsored by the IndieRegister.com news blog.