Spring 2015

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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Illustration by Dave Wheeler

Delivering the Daily

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Learn more about the Campaign for the Future of the Daily Northwestern.

Tell us what you think. E-mail comments or questions to the editors at letters@northwestern.edu.

Ever wonder about those strange designations we use throughout Northwestern to identify alumni of the various schools of the University? See the complete list.

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Campaign focuses on upgrading technology, funding scholarships and creating reserves for the award-winning publication.

Emily Glazer cut her journalism teeth at the Daily Northwestern. She covered the 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University, wrote about the Northwestern-developed blockbuster pharmaceutical drug Lyrica and penned pieces that questioned the University administration — stories that made her realize “the impact one could have as a journalist.”

Working at the Daily “gave me an opportunity to write about real-world issues,” says Glazer ’10, a former editor-in-chief who is now a banking reporter at the Wall Street Journal. “So much of what I learned at Northwestern I learned in the newsroom.”

For more than a century the Daily Northwestern has been the only daily source of news for Northwestern and the Evanston community and a training ground for some of the nation’s top journalists. Launched in October, the Campaign for the Future of the Daily Northwestern aims to maintain and build upon the campus institution’s legacy. Led by co-chairs Christine Brennan ’80, ’81 MS and Michael Wilbon ’80, both former Daily staffers, the organizers hope to raise $1 million from 500 donors over five years.

The campaign is focused on three primary goals: update the technology; fund scholarships so students with limited means will be able to work for the Daily; and establish reserves that will allow the paper to remain focused on training and inspiring the next generation of journalists. Thanks to a partnership with the University’s Alumni Relations and Development department, gifts to the Daily Northwestern campaign also count as gifts to We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.

Funding for the Daily Northwestern, an independent campus publication run by the nonprofit Students Publishing Company, comes almost exclusively from advertising. (For fiscal year 2014, advertising accounted for 86 percent of the Daily’s income; the other 14 percent came from mailed subscriptions.) Like most print media outlets, the Daily has had to adjust to decreasing ad revenue, which has dropped 53 percent in the past eight years, says Stacia Green Campbell ’80, general manager of SPC.

As a result, the paper has gotten much smaller, shrinking from an average of 30 or more pages to just 10 per day, says Campbell. Budget cuts have also forced the editorial and business staffs to make the most of older computers, cameras and other equipment, most of it purchased in 2007.

The belt-tightening at the Daily forced a 40 percent cut since 2007 in the stipends paid to the full-time student staffers — the main beat reporters and top editors. “These people weren’t making thousands of dollars a quarter,” says Jeremy Mullman ’00, a former Daily editor-in-chief. “Mostly you’re talking about hundreds, but to college students, that matters. We don’t want people to not be able to work at the Daily because of their financial situation.”

The SPC board has explored a move to an online-only format, but that option was rejected, says longtime SPC board member Ed Bryant ’63, ’67 JD, who wrote editorials for the paper as Student Senate president in the 1962–63 academic year and joined the SPC board in 1972.

“We’ve done enough financial due diligence to convince ourselves that if we went strictly to an online publication, as some others have done, we wouldn’t get enough ad revenue to keep that going,” says Bryant. “And it wouldn’t be a product that you pick up when you walk out of your classroom every day.

“Most of us on the board are convinced that the Daily in hard copy is a very valuable thing for the campus, for the faculty and staff, for Evanston residents, for Evanston advertisers and for the journalism students in training,” says Bryant, a Daily subscriber who lives in Evanston.

Campbell adds that the technology upgrades supported by the campaign will allow the Daily to expand its digital presence, complementing rather than replacing the print publication.

Despite the current challenges, the Daily staff continues to produce an award-winning print publication. “There’s been such a consistency of excellence, not only in the quality of the paper but also the quality of the journalists that the Daily turns out,” says Mullman, who reported for 10 years at publications including Crain’s Chicago Business and Advertising Age before becoming vice president at Olson Engage, a communications firm in Chicago’s West Loop. “The amount of talent that comes through that place is incredible. That does not change. You meet the students who are working there now, and they are every bit as talented and determined as we were. I think it’s important that there is a place like the Daily where they can hone these skills and prepare for the workplace.”