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The image shows a well-worn, slightly damaged image of the front page of the first issue of what would become the Indiana Daily Student. The masthead reads "The Indiana Student." Below that, issue and date details are listed, followed by a listing of the terms (single copy, one college year: $1.50), board of trustees, and a lengthy article titled "How the Indiana Student was named."
The Indiana Student, which later became the Indiana Daily Student, was first published Feb. 22, 1867. Photo courtesy of IU Archives.

To look through the Indiana Daily Student archives is to look upon the better part of Indiana University’s history.

When the past is so neatly preserved and the soft glow of nostalgia is so enticing, it may be easy to forget the challenges our beloved institutions have endured to become beloved institutions in the first place.

The IDS, as it’s commonly called, has been a fixture on the IU Bloomington campus since February 1867. For reference, that’s 33 years before IU basketball’s first season.

Through its 150-year history, the Indiana Daily Student has weathered countless changes. Consider the paper’s eight-year dormancy in the 1870s due to lack of funding; the paper shortage of World War I; and publishing from a government-issued Quonset hut known as “The Shack” from 1948-1954, as the campus worked to meet the demands of its rising enrollment numbers after World War II.

A black-and-white photo shows students huddled over a crescent shaped table, engrossed in their work, papers strewn about everywhere.
Spring 1941 Indiana Daily Student staff. Photo courtesy of IU Archives.
A full-color photo shows students gathered around a table, a laptop (and sometimes also a smartphone) in front of each of them.
Fall 2017 Indiana Daily Student staff. Editor in Chief Jamie Zega is seated upper-right, wearing an IDS shirt. Photo by Ben Meraz.

Then there was the long, contentious debate over the paper’s ownership that was only somewhat settled in 1969, and decades of financial struggle that preceded a period of paid circulation in the 1980s.

Through all that and more, the Indiana Daily Student has survived. This is a good reminder as the IDS embarks on its latest big change. Beginning in fall 2017, the Indiana Daily Student is adopting an online-first approach, going from five print editions each week to two.

“The IDS isn’t dead. It’s just changing,” says Jamie Zega, fall 2017 editor in chief and a senior at IU. “Even though we all have this very sentimental attachment to the [print] newspaper, if we’re going to do our jobs as journalists, we need to actually make sure people are reading our work, and that’s not where people are reading our work.”

As IU student journalists respond to the realities of today’s media landscape, they’re not alone. Through the Indiana Daily Student Legacy Fund, IU alumni and friends are trying to raise $150,000 for opportunities like scholarships, training, and travel to cover major news events, such as national athletics championships and presidential elections. The Indiana Daily Student may be changing, but its mission of training responsible, ethical journalists to inform the public remains the same.

This paper has been a part of the university’s history for 150 years. It will be, hopefully, for a whole lot more.

The paper’s first editors, Sol Meredith and Robert Richardson, might not see a lot of similarities between their 1867 publication known as the Indiana Student and what IU’s student journalists are putting out today. Jamie Zega may not recognize the IDS of 2167. But in the end, their story is the same.

“It’s that feeling that you’re doing something bigger than yourself,” Zega says. “This paper has been a part of the university’s history for 150 years. It will be, hopefully, for a whole lot more.”


To support the training of responsible, ethical journalists, and to provide general support of the Indiana Daily Student and its publications, use the button below, or contact Emily Harrison, director of development and alumni relations in The Media School, at emharri@indiana.edu or 812-855-9249.

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This article was originally published in the fall 2017 issue of Imagine magazine.

Written By
Andrea Alumbaugh

A native Hoosier, Andrea Alumbaugh is a graduate of IU (BAJ’08) and a senior writer at the IU Foundation.