The University of Iowa's student newspaper bought two weeklies. Here's how it will impact students. (2024)

Ryan HansenIowa City Press-Citizen

The University of Iowa's student newspaper is diving head first into small-town journalism.

The Daily Iowan announced its purchase of the Solon Economist and Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun in late January. The first print edition under the DI umbrella hit newsstands and front porches on Feb. 8.

Daily Iowan publisher Jason Brummond spearheaded the acquisition from Dubuque-based Woodward Communications, talks that began in the fall.

The acquisition integrates the Economist and Sun into the DI, allowing students to work with the small staff at each paper and expand the reach of each newsroom.

“I think it's a whole new approach,” Brummond told the Press-Citizen.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

Reporters and editors will remain in their positions at each paper, while professional staff at the DI — which includes the publisher, business director, production manager, and advertising director — will oversee the business side of the papers in Mount Vernon and Solon.

Mount Vernon’s five-person newsroom staff will operate out of their physical location in the city’s downtown. Both newspapers websites will transition into the DI's system and some content, if relevant to audiences in Solon and Mount Vernon or vice versa, will be shared between sites.

Brummond believes the future of journalism still has its place in rural towns, which is a big reason why the Daily Iowan pursued the two weeklies.

“Working for a community newspaper is really essential journalism,” Brummond said. “It's covering what happens at a meeting, it's covering the local high school sports team, it's telling the stories of people from that community. So it just gives student journalists a whole new appreciation of and experience with the fundamentals of journalism.”

More: On the front lines: What Solon, Mt. Vernon newspaper editors say about unique DI purchase

UI’s J-school growing real-world opportunities

The DI is also partnering with the UI’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication to help expand on-the-ground learning opportunities for students who can't commit to the student publication's workload. The journalism school plans to allow students to "feel out" the experience of being a professional journalist by authoring stories in dedicated weekly newspapers.

UI Journalism and Mass Communication director Melissa Tully hopes that hands-on work with the papers can be integrated into various classes. The partnership could include large-scale projects and new Solon and Mount Vernon-specific programs.

“We think this is really critical as a way of expanding and innovating what The Daily Iowan is already doing,” Tully said.

Working for a small-town paper with an intimate staff provides a new perspective on what on-the-ground journalism can look like, she said.

“There's also a different set of concerns in these smaller communities and when you're working on a weekly publication," Tully said. "So (we’re) really thinking about that as an opportunity for students to get a totally different experience.”

Students will likely have access to courses for pay as an internship or for credit, depending on their preference, Tully said. The UI’s journalism school has additional programs that connect with area nonprofits and pay student interns.

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The Daily Iowan hopes purchase can be model for others

Other student journalism programs have made similar moves for smaller publications, but the UI’s nonprofit student publication — not the journalism school or the university — acquiring two local papers is believed to be among the first such purchases in the country.

It means the DI can provide a large-scale model for other student publications, Tully said.

“We're just really excited about the potential and investment in these in these communities,” Tully said. “Our students come from these places, our faculty live there, our staff live there. I think that's really what's exciting to me is doing something that is both community-focused and student-focused and I'm just excited about what that can mean.”

The journalism school plans to roll out a student-led survey with several community members in Solon and Mount Vernon, hoping to fine-tune their potential impact.

“We definitely don't want it to seem like, ‘Oh, we're just coming in and saying this is how things are going to be done,’” Tully said. “​​That's not the goal at all, so we’re really hoping to get that community feedback, but so far, it's been really positive, both from people in those communities and just from the broader news community in Iowa.”

Brummond said he received notes from “20-plus” friends and acquaintances across the country in the days after the purchase, which helped reinforce the decision.

“There's a lot of wins in this,” Brummond said. “It's good for these newspapers. It's good for the communities. It's good for student journalists. It made sense for The Daily Iowan.”

Ryan Hansen covers local government and crime for the Press-Citizen. He can be reached at or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @ryanhansen01.

The University of Iowa's student newspaper bought two weeklies. Here's how it will impact students. (2024)


Why are student newspapers important? ›

Improves Communication – Student-run newspapers are a great way to build communication between all groups in the school. As they come together, interact, brainstorm, they develop and improve peer-to-peer relationships.

What are the benefits of joining college newspaper? ›

10 Reasons to Work for a Student Newspaper
  • Gain valuable experience. ...
  • Gain work experience and build your portfolio. ...
  • Learn to write. ...
  • Take on responsibility. ...
  • Learn time management. ...
  • The newsroom is fun. ...
  • Make great friends. ...
  • It looks great on a resume.

What is the purpose of a college newspaper? ›

A college newspaper, in particular, is a great platform for students to have a voice, to stay informed and to hold the administration and themselves accountable,” Jerry Swope said, Chair of the Digital Media and Communications Department and advisor of The Defender.

Who owns the Daily Iowan? ›

Four challenges in rural college completion, persistence

Student Publications Inc., the nonprofit that owns The Daily Iowan, eventually decided to purchase the two papers, The Mount Vernon–Lisbon Sun and The Solon Economist.

What is the responsibility of a student newspaper to university? ›

Student publications play a vital role in informing students about events and occurrences on campus, exposing wrongdoing, holding leadership accountable, and informing the larger community about relevant events.

What are the benefits of student journalism? ›

These skills include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity, all of which benefit students in any chosen path. Furthermore, student journalism fosters a sense of ethical responsibility.

What is the main purpose of a newspaper? ›

In general, the purpose of a newspaper is to convey, as efficiently as possible, current information, or "news", to a particular audience. What constitutes "news" depends in part on the intended audience.

Why are publications important to universities? ›

Why Does Academic Publishing Matter for University Rankings? Academic publishing is crucial for building and maintaining a university's reputation. High-quality research published in prestigious journals signals that a university is at the forefront of knowledge creation and innovation.

What are the benefits of college magazine? ›

It gives them training in concentration of thoughts and ideas and in discipline. It can educate and prepare students for their different roles in society which they will certainly play in the near future. Students can benefit a lot by the friendly guidance of a college magazine.

Where is the daily Iowan? ›

Iowa City, IA

Who owns the Hawkeye newspaper Burlington Iowa? ›

On December 1, 2022, the Hawk Eye was acquired by family-owned Burlington Multimedia, LLC, an affiliate company of Mississippi Valley Publishing and Community Media Group.

Who owns Iowa City Press Citizen? ›

This site is part of the USA TODAY Network and is owned and operated by Gannett Co., Inc.

What are the importance of newspapers? ›

Newspapers provide information and general knowledge. Newspapers provide news about a country's economic situation, sports, games, entertainment, trade and commerce. Reading newspaper makes a good habit and it is already part of the modern life. This habit will widen your outlook and will enrich your knowledge.

Why is youth journalism important? ›

Student journalism provides an array of tangible benefits to young people. By gaining skills in reporting, writing, and editing, students are set up for professional success in a wide range of fields.

Why were newspapers important? ›

They served many functions including providing a daily chronicle of events, serving as a political organ and promoting free speech. No other reference source is as comprehensive in its coverage of daily life or as wide in its scope of possible content.

Why should students write on papers? ›

Writing is also important because it allows students to: Improve their understanding of class material and seek clarification. Develop their critical thinking skills and make connections. Communicate ideas, opinions, persuade others, and express feelings.

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