Since 1877, The Colby Echo has been an institution on campus. Since its inception, it has been entirely student-organized and run, allowing students a place to voice their thoughts, opinions, and critiques of the college without the administration stepping in.
However, the death of print culture in the world outside the College Bubble has begun to seep into our community, with fewer and fewer readers of every issue (besides the esteemed joke issue, of course). With everything that everyone has going on in our lives, it is easy to forget how important this newspaper is to our campus.
Betsy Greenberg `25 pointed out that there is no way to reach the whole student body besides anonymous apps like YikYak and Fizz, which lack the credibility that The Echo has.
“I think students should read The Echo because it’s a great way to hear about what’s going on around campus. It’s the most honest, trustworthy source we have,” Greenberg said.
She pointed out that it highlights groups that students may not be aware of and can recognize student accomplishments that are not deemed important enough to go on the College’s official Instagram.
“It’s a good way to hear about new clubs and events around campus that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. It’s inspiring to see everything that students are up to around campus! My favorite part is looking out for news about some of the clubs and organizations my friends are in and seeing photos,” she said.
More than just opening a window to the less publicized happenings on campus, Aubrey Adkins `25 explains how The Echo can also provide students a look into the world outside of Colby.
“As a student-run paper, I think the Echo gives students important insight into what their peers’ views on events at the College and beyond are. I think that sometimes Colby students feel disconnected from the larger community; reading the Echo can make them more aware of what’s happening at Colby outside of their circle, as well as what’s happening in Waterville, the state of Maine, or somewhere else entirely,” she said.
The Echo gives students the ability to speak to the broader campus in a forum unregulated by the administration. Students can write about the true problems on campus without censorship. More than that, the board of trustees reads every issue, which means these problems are not just brought to the students’ attention, but those in the highest positions of power at the College as well.
Professor Sam Plasencia, who studies print culture, explains how The Echo opens a space for students that they otherwise would not have.
“I think it’s important to have a public forum space that isn’t quite controlled by the institution where student voices can be heard–especially when it comes to critiquing or holding Colby accountable. The Echo seems to be one of those spaces,” she said. Plasencia elaborated, explaining how student reporters are more attuned to the issues that the student body faces, as the administration may not understand or even be aware of some of the things students are facing.
“I think journalists (and in this case, students who are starting to build their journalist chops)–are an essential component of any just society because they’re the ones with eyes and ears to the ground; it’s their job to sound the alarm when harm is happening or policies are being considered that might bring harm–especially to underrepresented populations. It’s their job to gather and inspire people–to funnel people’s energies into specific issues. It’s a tremendous responsibility that I don’t think should be taken lightly. But when done well, journalism can be a real force for good,” she said.
The Echo serves so many important purposes for The College as an independent, student-run paper that offers the whole community an insight into what is happening on and off campus. However, the paper has faced problems with budgeting, which is doled out by the Student Government Association (SGA), because although the administration may not be able to control what The Echo writes, they control how much money they have, which impacts their publishing schedule.
Co-Editor-in-Chief Adrian Visscher `24 pointed out that The Echo is severely underfunded, as not only do they have to pay writers and staff, but they also have to pay to physically print the paper. “Our budget has not increased since last year, and it still isn’t enough to print the amount of issues we were hoping to. We have to move issues online and will only be able to pay people enough to do six issues this semester,” he said.
He continued, explaining that there is no guarantee they can even print six the next semester, and they might have to further decrease the number of print issues. “We are hoping to negotiate some funding with SGA to ensure we can go 6 in the spring too,” he said.
How can The Echo continue to be the community staple it is, when it is not given enough money to even print issues?
So, this article is not just a hype-up of our wonderful newspaper, but a plea to those few of you who are reading this right now. Like, retweet, and subscribe. Tell your friends to read the paper, and help us keep the freedom of the press at this school, so not all news comes from David Greene emails that have been through so many rounds of editing that they look like an actor with bad plastic surgery.
~ Mairead Levitt `25