A space to document the rough draft of history
September 20, 2019
When major local and national news broke, almost as if by a mysterious gravitational force, DI staffers knew to head to the newsroom and get to work informing the community.
Most staffers basically lived in the newsroom, longtime Publisher Bill Casey said — it was everybody’s home just as it is now, even without the “swank” lounge space today’s staff enjoys in the current Adler Journalism Building newsroom.
Arvidson recalled the night that presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated. The June 5, 1968 issue of the DI reported that Kennedy was entering surgery as the newspaper went to press.
After reporting Kennedy’s victory in the California primary, Arvidson said, she returned to her sorority house on Burlington Street. She walked in the door just in time to see Kennedy get shot after giving his victory speech.
So, Arvidson turned around and went back to the newsroom, as did nearly everyone who worked late that night. While other journalists in town had gone to bed, the DI staff stopped the presses and is believed to be the only newspaper east of the Missouri River to get the news in its pages.
“Everybody else had gone to bed,” she said. “… It was amazing.”
Two decades later, tragedy struck the campus community on Nov. 1, 1991, when former UI graduate student Gang Lu shot and killed five people and wounded one other in two university buildings.
Enraged about not winning a dissertation award that instead went to Shan, his former roommate, Lu targeted several people whom he killed that day before turning the gun on himself.
The DI staff put out a special Saturday edition to cover the tragedy — showing up to the newsroom knowing without being told that the news needed to be covered.
“Those kids were there day and night for the Gang Lu story,” Casey said. “… I was out of town, so was the editor, but the newsroom kids just stepped up and did a great job.”