The News begins centennial celebrations
November 4, 2015
Reminiscing and reconnecting will be the focus of the weekend as The Daily Eastern News celebrates 100 years of publication.
More than 200 alumni are set to participate in the festivities, which include a meet-and-greet between alumni and current students on Friday and tours of the newsroom and pressroom on Saturday.
It’s no coincidence the 100th year of The News befalls the same year as the 100th Homecoming.
A group of students came together to start publishing a newspaper to cover sports and the inaugural homecoming – an event that students, faculty members and businessmen wanted to make, “the biggest and most enjoyable event ever pulled off,” according to the first issue of the Normal School News.
Vol. 1, Issue 1 was the work of students Ivan Bean Cobble, Ernest Bails and Ed McGurty, along with Prather the Printer, a local printing firm headed by Bob Prather that printed The News as well as the first and succeeding yearbooks, according to a letter to the editor from former journalism department chair Dan Thornburgh.
That “spirit” of wanting to cover stories is very typical of college students, according to Sally Renaud, chair of the journalism department and interim director of student publications.
“They want to have a voice; they want to tell their story,” Renaud said. “I’m glad the university has supported it all these years.”
In its early years, The News printed mostly sports news and rambling editorials, which was indicative of its low journalistic standard at the time, according to compiled information on the journalism department’s history. This was because of the non-demand of the journalism profession at the time and therefore, the lack of formal education in the vocation.
Surviving the years
The News has survived all 11 sitting university presidents, nine locations around the campus and Charleston, been the recipient of numerous awards, as well as criticism from the university.
Out of the nine locations The News has called home, two of the locations are no longer standing – the Bails family home, as First Financial Bank now sits on the land, and the “Cement Block Building,” which is now the east section of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.
The News and its editors have also been the recipients of numerous awards throughout its 100 years, some of which include “Best Newspaper in its Class” from the Illinois College Press Association in 1946 and Pacemakers from the Associated Collegiate Press.
The history of The News is also not without its controversy.
Between 1956 and 1968, known as the “Doudna Years” in Eastern journalism history, run-ins between The News and President Quincy Doudna were frequent as the newspaper took the motto “Tell the truth and don’t be afraid” to heart.
A football player made it into Pemberton Hall, which was frowned upon at the time, and the paper covered it, also apparently frowned upon.
The editor at the time, 21-year-old Bruce Schaeffer of Skokie, was fired by the Board of Student Publications.
This gained traction in the Chicago Tribune and eventually Francis W. Palmer was relieved of his Student Publications advisory duties.
This made way for Daniel Thornburgh, who is widely regarded as the father of Eastern’s journalism department. Thornburgh died in 2011 at the age of 80.
“The journalism department supports wholeheartedly what the students do,” Renaud said.
Training and support are given to students in the form of journalism classes and the advisers who critique the paper and offer guidance to students. Alumni also come back to speak to current students.
“A lot of students came to Eastern to major in journalism and be a part in student publications,” said John Ryan, class of 1975, who recently retired as director of student publications.
In addition to the aforementioned tours, Thursday’s paper includes a special eight-page insert chronicling the history of The Daily Eastern News.
Stories include the nine locations that The News has called home, a history of the printing press and oddities that have occurred over the years.
The News is proud of its history and proudly presents it for everyone else to read.