The University of Colorado -- following the extinction of its faculty and staff newspaper -- is shaping the identity of a newsletter that will provide scaled-back coverage of campus issues.
The CU president's office sifted through 40 applications and hired former Rocky Mountain News journalist Jay Dedrick to oversee the faculty and staff newsletter. The online publication replaces the Silver & Gold Record newspaper that was eliminated because of budget cuts and amid controversy.
Meanwhile, a CU education professor is among those leading a project to launch a nonprofit that would provide higher-education news for the state of Colorado as some are leery to trust a publication run by the president's office.
CU system spokesman Ken McConnellogue said the newsletter will not provide coverage as widespread as Silver & Gold once did.
"The scope of what we're doing has shrunk considerably," he said. "We can't cover the campuses as closely. We're going from a staff of nine to one."
CU may also hire freelancers to help cover some meetings and events, McConnellogue said.
New hire will oversee newsletter
Dedrick -- who has 20 years of experience in communication, most recently at the Rocky Mountain News prior to its closure -- will earn $56,000 a year, according to McConnellogue.
University officials were impressed with Dedrick's skills and experience as both a writer and editor, and his ability to manage Web content, McConnellogue said.
Dedrick began his job at CU on Aug. 27.
He has experience as a features and entertainment editor and writer at the Camera, and he developed a blog for Colorado Biz magazine focusing on the state's craft-brewing industry.
"We could not be happier to have someone of Jay's caliber on staff," CU President Bruce Benson said in a statement. "He brings the journalist's gift for storytelling, the feature writer's eye for detail, and the business reporter's sense of enterprise and Web development -- all skills he will need to help us evolve our newsletter into a compelling communication tool for our faculty and staff."
Dedrick said he wants to create an interactive publication, which serves as a connection point for employees throughout the campus. He said there is an opportunity to provide a forum for an exchange of ideas, including letters to the editor and guest columnists.
"I'm interested in looking ahead to figure out how we can create something that will be a valuable connection point," he said.
Alternative publication considered
CU education professor Margaret LeCompte said that higher-education employees across the state are exploring how to launch a publication that would provide unbiased coverage of the Legislature and Colorado's colleges and universities.
At a meeting last month of Colorado affiliates of the American Association of University Professors -- an academic freedom watchdog group -- employees from other Colorado schools said they turned to the Silver & Gold for higher-education news, said LeCompte, who is president of the association's CU chapter.
The conference unanimously decided to support the idea of an alternative higher-education news source, she said.
Ideally, she said, the publication would be published in print and online and would be funded by donations.
Following the announcement of the closure of the Silver & Gold, LeCompte surveyed 1,500 employees people from across CU's campuses and found that 78 percent of them would be willing to take $3 to $5 payroll deductions for an alternative publication.
She said some are frustrated about the disappearance of an independent news source for faculty and staff and the publication of the in-house newsletter.
"People see it as a cynical insult to the faculty," LeCompte said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.