Opinion | The Daily Iowan provides young journalists with unique opportunities, and it’s worth supporting

The Daily Iowan is unmatched in the experience it provides to prepare young journalists for the professional world and create some of the best college journalism in the country. On One Day for Iowa, consider donating to keep that mission alive.


Hannah Kinson

Daily Iowan Managing Editor Caleb McCullough poses for a portrait on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at the DI newsroom.

Caleb McCullough, Managing Editor

I first stepped into The Daily Iowan newsroom as a dewy-eyed high school freshman during the annual Iowa High School Press Association Conference. The historical front pages on one wall, and the text of the First Amendment plastered across the opposite wall filled me with a sense of wonder and excitement that I haven’t lost seven years later.

I made sure to go back and visit the newsroom whenever I had the opportunity, and when I committed to the University of Iowa the DI was the driving factor. I figured I could get a good journalism education anywhere, but if I was going to work at a student newspaper, I wanted to be among the best.

And now, three years after walking in the doors as an employee for the first time, working in multiple reporting and editor positions, I am excited and honored to soon lead the newsroom as the executive editor in the 2021-2022 academic year.

I can say unequivocally that my experience at the DI has been the most educational and beneficial of my college career. The DI has given me opportunities that no classroom, and very few other student newspapers, can give.

I’ve interviewed presidential candidates one-on-one; I’ve stood in press gaggles alongside professional reporters, jockeying for the best position and competing for the best questions; I’ve traveled to Vermont for Super Tuesday and interviewed all but one of Iowa’s members of Congress.

These opportunities are typical of what young journalists can find at the DI. Over the years, reporters have been able to travel to Washington, D.C., to interview members of Congress, and most recently to cover the rocky 2020 election. Just this month, our sports journalists went to San Antonio, St. Louis, and Indianapolis for national collegiate tournaments.

The photo staff had so many once-in-a-generation shots in 2020 that they swept multiple categories at the Iowa Newspaper Awards and produced a photobook to document the monumental year.

The DI prepares students for the professional world in a way few other extracurriculars can. Students that join the DI are thrown into the ringer, pitching, going into the field, working with real deadlines and a print schedule for a newspaper that serves their community.

You can find a DI alum in most major newsrooms across the state — the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Southeast Iowa Union, the N’West Iowa Review, the Ames Tribune, to name just a few. And our alumni are scattered across the country too, at Politico, the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, and many, many more.

Today is One Day For Iowa, a 24-hour donation drive that asks you to give to the institutions at the UI that matter to you. The quality of journalism and the experience the DI provides is worth supporting, and a donation can help fund the vital service we provide to the community. Please consider donating today and participating in the challenges and matching grants available to make your donation go even farther.

The DI is able to do what it does because of generous donations from the people who read and appreciate our journalism every day. As newspapers continue to face financial challenges from the pandemic, your donation can go to support local journalism that makes a real impact on the people and the institutions in your community.

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