by ALEXANDRA RETTER
As The Winonan began 100 years ago, its staff members wrote in the first issue that they wished “to develop a school spirit among the students that might well be taken as a model in every school in the country” and stated, “School spirit does not mean any more to some of us than a row of beans, and as it would take several volumes to persuade the majority of students that it is essential as a part of their school life, we shall no longer talk on the subject but act.” Today, the staff of The Winonan is displaying that school spirit by holding a series of events to mark the centennial of the paper.
The Winonan, the student newspaper of Winona State University (WSU), began in 1919, said Zach Bailey, The Winonan’s current editor-in-chief. The first issue of the paper was printed on October 28 of that year. To celebrate the anniversary, a small reprint of the first issue was included with this week’s copy of The Winonan.
Russ Dennison, a professor, librarian, archivist and department chair at WSU, said The Winonan’s founding was called “a spur-of-the-moment decision” by its first editor, who was also one of its founders.
“I assume it was to provide news to a student body that was experiencing change in both society and on campus,” Dennison said of the paper’s founding. “A world war had just ended, [and] technology was starting to change society with automobiles, telephones, and radios.”
Since the first issue, a highlight in the history of the paper was The Winonan assisting with inspiring WSU’s change of mascot from the Normals to the Warriors, Bailey shared.
Dennison said that the paper has covered student bandage-rolling parties during World War I, students protesting the Vietnam War and students participating in the first Earth Day, among other topics such as the gaining of a football field and Winona State becoming a university.
To mark 100 years of The Winonan, the paper’s staff members have attempted to be present in the WSU community throughout this semester in ways aside from producing the paper. They have been holding various events on campus to raise awareness of not just The Winonan, but student media in its entirety, Bailey stated.
Different student media organizations on campus have been highlighted at a tabling event called “Media Mondays,” Bailey explained. Some of the organizations that have been featured include the Society for Collegiate Journalists, KQAL and Her Campus. Outside media organizations such as Leighton Broadcasting and the Winona Post have been a part of the event as well.
A media speakers series is also being held. Two individuals spoke this semester, and three people will speak next semester. The speakers have ranged from government reporters to broadcast specialists. Next semester, a documentarian and the editor of the Star Tribune will be included.
Bailey said a distinguished alumnus of The Winonan is Roger Runningen, who went on to work as a White House reporter. Mitchell Breuer, The Winonan’s incoming editor-in-chief and current sports editor, shared that another notable alumnus of The Winonan is Brian Krans, a reporter now based in California who investigated recruiting scandals and underage bars while attending WSU.
Bailey said the paper recently switched from a smaller tabloid style to a larger broadsheet style and is continuing to focus on growing its presence online through its website and social media accounts.
Bailey noted that during his time at The Winonan, an article about how sexual assault is handled on campus has stayed with him. He said he is glad to have seen change enacted in response to the article.
Breuer said an article about the rugby team moving to Division 1 remains meaningful for him and he is happy to have broken the news.
About 20 to 25 staff members produce The Winonan today, Bailey explained. Any WSU student may work at the paper, regardless of her or his major and level of experience with journalism.
Each week, staff members meet at a budget meeting on Sunday night and review which articles they will work on throughout the next week, Bailey stated. Staff members have from Sunday until the next Saturday to finish their articles and take their photos, and articles are due on Saturday night.
During the week, the editors have office hours so other staff members may ask any questions they have, Breuer explained.
Every Sunday, the editors edit the articles and photos, Bailey shared. The editors then discuss the design of the pages of the paper each Monday, design the pages and send them to the Winona Post for printing. The paper is distributed every Wednesday morning.
Breuer said he feels staff members have forged a family-like bond, noting that they are able to enjoy one another’s company outside the paper.
“When the job needs to be done, people are still doing their jobs — there’s no slacking off or anything — but it’s just a very comfortable atmosphere with everybody,” Breuer said.
Breuer said he thinks the media is “the most important it’s ever been” currently and feels it is valuable to have student media and people who aspire to be journalists.
Bailey shared that he thinks it is important for people to receive proper journalistic training in an age when all individuals can be journalists of sorts through social media.
Bailey encouraged younger students who are interested in journalism to get started in the field as soon as possible through working at their high school and college papers. Breuer also said he feels those pursuing a career in journalism will benefit from working at their college paper.
The Winonan can be found online and on the WSU campus.