Payne: The DI is worth supporting for opportunities it gives young journalists

The DI has been the cornerstone of my UI journey. Support on days such as 1 Day for Iowa ensure opportunities remain available to student journalists at one of the oldest and best U.S. college publications.


Katina Zentz

Managing Editor for The Daily Iowan, Marissa Payne, poses for a portrait in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, March 4, 2019. Payne will be the new editor-in-chief next year.

Marissa Payne, Managing Editor

As I anxiously waited to graduate from high school three years ago to don the Black and Gold as a Hawkeye, I had no clear vision of what my time at the University of Iowa would look like. My dream of pursuing a college degree as a first-generation student was finally within reach — but how would I make it count?

I had a hunch then, and the answer’s clear now: The Daily Iowan.

I’ve worked for the DI since I stepped foot on campus as a timid freshman, starting off as a news reporter and working my way up to my current position as managing editor. Next year, I will have the privilege of serving as editor-in-chief.

The word that comes to the front of my mind is “opportunity” when I think about the DI. I had never imagined that as someone whose family never attended college, I could someday lead one of the oldest and best college publications in the country. The DI has propelled me to take full advantage of the opportunities granted to me throughout my UI journey, and I couldn’t be more grateful to lead this organization that has given me everything and more.

The DI has empowered me to learn what a university is all about and answer the curiosities I had as the first in my family to set on the degree-earning path. It’s provided an on-campus family of around 120 other student journalists to turn to for support and to share in the absolute joy of reporting the news. It’s given me the opportunity to travel across the country — and even board an airplane for the first time. And it’s certainly made me far more comfortable in my own journalism-loving skin than I was when I arrived.

RELATED: Marissa Payne appointed next DI editor-in-chief

To the students similar to me who dedicate time and effort to the DI, the DI will give so much in return. Students have the opportunity to interview Iowa’s state politicians and congressional delegation, to hit the road with Division-1 sports teams and provide comprehensive Hawkeye sports coverage, and to compete every day with local journalists for content and produce professional work.

No classroom, no course, no assignment could teach us the lessons we’ve learned while producing journalism for a real audience on deadline at the DI.

But the DI doesn’t just give to those of us who work in its newsroom. As an independent student-run newspaper, we pride ourselves on being free to responsibly report the news as the facts have it. We’re part of the community we cover and know that our words carry weight in shaping our campus climate; in turn, our community and its stories shape us and mold the work we do in the newsroom. We’re an institution touched by many throughout our proud 150-year history and remain optimistic about the bright future ahead of us.

Today is 1 Day for Iowa, a 24-hour online fundraising event in which matching gifts and other challenges present opportunities for areas of campus such as the DI to earn additional funds. The DI is part of the Writing at Iowa featured area to which people can contribute.

Student journalism of the caliber produced at the DI is worth supporting. No classroom, no course, no assignment could teach us the lessons we’ve learned while producing journalism for a real audience on deadline at the DI.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a newsroom in the state — or even major national outlets — without a DI alum in it. From USA Today and the Washington Post out in Washington to top-notch newsrooms in Iowa such as the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Des Moines Register, we’re truly everywhere. We leave this newsroom prepared to produce professional journalism because that’s what we already do here every day.

It’s no secret that it’s a tough time for journalists. Trust in the media is low and continually tested by the “fake news” narrative, and journalism struggles to keep up with the pace of change needed to stay afloat in the digital age.

Contributions from generous supporters help guarantee that our organization’s future is that much brighter amid these trying times. Support provided to the DI plays a crucial role in not only opening up more impactful opportunities for our staff members but in allowing us to better serve our community members with the journalism they need to be informed decision-makers and change agents.

It’s more important than ever to support student journalists. Please consider making a gift to support The Daily Iowan, the award-winning independent, student-run newspaper serving the UI and Iowa City communities, by donating here.