Digital age comes to Life on the Pamlico

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

Staff Writer

Far fewer trees will be killed to make future editions of Life on the Pamlico.
A Beaufort County Community College tradition in print since the early 1980s, this local student publication has a new look and a new way of reaching its readers.
The magazine is now available, in its entirety, online at BCCC’s website, and can be accessed for free.
“With this format, everybody can access it,” said BCCC English instructor Bryan Oesterreich.
People who want a printed version of the Life can download it and have it copied, said Oesterreich, who oversaw the magazine’s transformation from a print-only product.
BCCC staff also have scanned all previous editions of the magazine, dating back to the ’80s. These back issues are available online as well.
Oesterreich, who teaches the humanities course in which the Life is written by his students, also shifted the publication’s focus.
Before, the magazine highlighted community personalities, featuring them in articles with question-and-answer formats.
“We thought it would be more interesting to read if it was more narrative than Q-and-A,” Oesterreich remarked.
Today, students taking part in the class are asked to interview older family members or other people with living histories to impart.
The subjects’ stories are shared alongside old photographs illustrating their histories.
The articles still are written by students, and Oesterreich does the editing.
“The students were kind of intimidated at first because they’re not writers, they’re not English majors,” he said.
But the classroom’s protojournalists gained confidence as they learned to take photos and ask good questions, and their subjects “came to life,” he shared.
The students’ interviews stretch over at least six sessions, ensuring multiple aspects of their subjects’ lives are covered, according to Oesterreich.
“They don’t just study a culture, they study their own culture,” he said.
The Life’s layout is done by James Casey, coordinator of BCCC’s Academic Support Center.
“Oh, it was good fun,” Casey said of his work on the past edition, which came out in the fall.
“It was a lot more work than I had planned to start with,” he added.
Oesterreich hopes the magazine will become “a signature product for BCCC.”
“The students learn how to write better, the community learns about its past,” he said.