Minnesota Daily Update
As the Daily prepares to move locations, the paper's 2005-06 leaders prepare for life after the Daily and look back over the year's challenges and accomplishments.
Big changes are coming for The Minnesota Daily. The current home of the paper, 2221 University Avenue, will be torn down in the coming months to make way for the U's new on-campus football stadium. Come fall 2006, a new group of leaders will take the helm of the paper in the building just next door.
Sitting in an office of the soon-to-be demolished 2221 University, the three people who made up the paper's 2005-06 Office of the Publisher--editor-in-chief Britt Johnsen, president Justin Scott, and business manager Melissa Lappin, reminisced about the year over candy and laughs. In a conversation with the Murphy Reporter, the three discussed the accomplishments and offered advice for the paper's new leaders.
Murphy Reporter: Looking back, what are some of the highlights of your year in the Office of the Publisher?
Britt Johnsen: In the editorial division, we started the multicultural council, which is something that will hopefully continue next year. Diversity efforts were very successful. For online, we updated news stories more often, added a poll, photo slideshow and continued A/V efforts. We also did a lot more special projects, played with design on the front page and inside pages, and increased training.
Melissa Lappin: The business division installed a new ad system, and improved financial reporting and training capabilities. We also set goals to increase sales revenue through online initiatives and they're adding a lot of online components for advertisers.
Justin Scott: What Britt said about diversity efforts is really true: diversity was a major, major goal this year. We've really made great strides in terms of improving our diversity efforts. It's obviously not something that we finished this year and it's not something that's going to be finished next year. But we set up a lot of really good precedents in dealing with diversity.
MR: What aspects of running the paper surprised you the most?
ML: The things that are affecting the newspaper industry as a whole, advertising-wise. With free resources online, advertising is going down. Our national revenue actually decreased first semester, which was a little bit of a shock--it did rebound second semester.
BJ: The amount of turnover at the Daily is unbelievable. Before this job, I hadn't really thought about how much actually goes into training people and getting them up to speed. Another surprising thing was how important the online version of the paper is now: online is the future of journalism, and it really affects our paper.
MR: What were the most challenging and most rewarding parts of running the paper?
Justin Scott: For me, the communication aspect of this job is far more difficult than I expected. It's also difficult to align the interests of everyone in the building. We've got 170 different people working here with 170 points of view. But the most rewarding part is being part of an organization that continues to impress me. A good example is when we had distribution problems. We sent out a few calls at 8 in the morning and suddenly there's 20 people here willing to distribute papers on a Tuesday morning and make sure papers get out on the stands so readers can get them. That's what always amazes me and kept me at the Daily so long. It's so many people that care so much about this organization. They put in their heart and soul into their jobs. It makes you really glad to be part of the paper.
What advice would you give next year's OP?
BJ: Continue to fight for access to information, because the University can be pretty difficult to negotiate. Again, it's also important for people to recognize what it means to be part of an organization and not just part of a team or a division. They should see everyone who works here as one big team."
JS: Take this job with a grain of salt, I guess. There is a lot of bad that gets thrown your way and a lot of good. It's really easy to let the bad frustrate you. Running a newspaper can be an extremely stressful job at times. But, you know, keep a clear head and remember the positives and you'll do well. And also, keep learning. This is a training institution. You have access to so many people and so much information. Really take advantage of that and continue learning throughout your time. It's a huge opportunity and you'll be able to give back tenfold to the Daily.
Meet Anna Weggel, 2006-07 Editor-in-Chief
Anna Weggel '07 has been named the 2006-07 Editor-in-Chief of The Minnesota Daily. Weggel is a journalism major originally from Eau Claire, WI, who got involved with the Daily during her first year at the U "by hounding the freelance editor until she let me cover my first story: a book signing at Coffman Union," Weggel says. Since then, Weggel has held numerous positions at the paper, including as a staff intern, a reporter on three different beats, freelance editor, associate editor, and now Editor-in-Chief. She's also had internships at the Pioneer Press, Downtown Journal and Business Journal.
Weggel will be busy in the fall: "I will be finishing up my senior year with a mass communication law class, publications editing, magazine production, two English classes, gospel choir," she says, in addition to spending much of her "free" time working on the Daily. Her advice to students in the SJMC: take a class with SJMC alum and former Daily Editor-in-Chief Chris Ison: "If any journalism majors have not had a class with Ison yet, they should take one now," Weggel says.
Daily Awards and Honors
The Minnesota Daily and reporter Emily Kaiser '07 were among the winners of the the Society of Professional Journalists' 2006 national Mark of Excellence awards. This year, collegiate journalists submitted more than 3,100 entries in 43 categories. The Daily editorial board was honored as a National Finalist in the Editorial Writing category, and Kaiser was honored as a National Finalist in the In-Depth Reporting category for her October 18, 2005 story entitled "Under Heat," which examined the University's heating delivery systems.
Regional Mark of Excellence Awards were also awarded to the Daily and a number of individual staff. They include:
The Minnesota Daily, Second Place, Best All-Around Student Newspaper
Daily Editorial Board, First Place, Editorial Writing
Daily Sports Staff, First Place, Sports Column Writing
Elise Adams and Marshall Long, Second Place, Breaking News Photography
Brie Cohen, Second Place, General News Photography
Adam Elrashidi, First Place, Editorial Cartooning
Emily Kaiser, First Place, In-Depth Reporting; Third Place, Feature Writing
Kevin McCahill, Second Place, Breaking News Reporting
Than Tibetts, First Place, Breaking News Reporting
Anna Weggel, Third Place, General News Reporting
Minnesota Daily Alumni Association Update
By Nick Doty
The Minnesota Daily Alumni Association's annual spring gathering drew nearly 170 students, alumni and faculty members April 22 to Coffman Memorial Union. The newly named Spring Social honored outstanding students and alumni and featured a silent auction, which raised nearly $1,500 for scholarships. Star Tribune reporter and Daily alumna Pamela Louwagie was the event's keynote speaker, addressing the troubling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Two Daily alums were honored at the event. Thomas Omestad (Daily managing editor, 1983-83) was the recipient of the 2006 Harrison Salisbury Annual Achievement award. Omestad is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report. Coincidentally, one of Omestad's most recent interviews was with the second honoree of the evening: Mark Fitzpatrick (Daily editorial page editor, 1975-76), a Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the 2006 inductee into the Daily Hall of Distinction.