Over spring break, I was in Washington, sitting across from Sen. Chuck Grassley in his office, asking him questions about gun control and filming his responses. At one moment, I stopped and thought to myself: How did I end up here?
How did I end up in the nation’s capital, a city I had only seen on the news or in movies, interviewing members of Iowa’s congressional delegation in congressional office buildings?
The answer is The Daily Iowan.
I started working for the DI my freshman year as a news reporter. I went on to become the DI films director, and currently I’m the creative director. Next year, I’ll be the editor-in-chief at a time in which the publication will celebrate its 150th-year anniversary.
Working for the DI has been the best education of my life. There is nowhere else students come together and work to produce professional-level content, competing with professionals in their field. We compete for both advertising and content with the other dailies in town, along with other media.
The opportunities students are given here are amazing: talking to people in our government, covering Division-1 athletics at home and away, taking photos that portray issues in our community and our society — the list goes on and on.
The DI is obviously a publication and a place in the Adler Journalism Building. But I like to think of it as more than that, too: to me, the DI is everybody who has ever worked here as student journalists. It’s the community that reads our stories and looks at our photos. It’s those who have supported the ideas and the content the DI produces every day.
Without all these dimensions, the DI would just be another struggling college newspaper.
Today is 1 Day for Iowa, a 24-hour online fundraising event in which opportunities to earn additional funds are presented through matching gifts and other challenges.
This event also brings about a time to talk about the importance of supporting your local student journalists. This year, The Daily Iowan is one of the “featured areas” to donate to during 1 Day for Iowa. Many people may wonder, “How does the DI afford to print a newspaper five days a week and provide online content every day when they are a college publication? Isn’t journalism a dying industry?”
The funding model for newspapers has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, and donations have become a huge part of what keeps us doing the things that we do as young journalists. Keep in mind the industry isn’t dying, just changing. We live in a world in which people are continually reading social media; they want the latest news, and they want it right now. How does one keep up with the constant 24/7 news cycle? How do we earn the trust of the people reading our stories?
The answer is transparency and the willingness to learn how to be the best journalists that we can be. That’s what we do at the DI: we bring in around 100 students each year with the goal of graduating them one day into the real world with crucial skills of critical thinking, in-depth reporting, and storytelling.
Here at The Daily Iowan, we are students, and we are journalists. We are here to learn, and we are here to report the news.