Since her freshman year, Danielle Ferguson, senior in journalism and mass communication, has called Hamilton Hall her home away from home. Between the many Greenlee classes she’s taken and her job as the editor in chief of the Iowa State Daily, Ferguson estimates she spends at least 12 hours in Hamilton every weekday.
That all changed in the final week of the fall 2015 semester, when the student newspaper emptied its office in Hamilton Hall—where it has been housed since 1940, when the Collegiate Press Building (now Hamilton Hall) opened—and moved to a new and larger office space in the recently-erected Kingland building in Campustown, on the corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Ave.
“We love our old space, it’s our little home away from home, but I think we’ve definitely outgrown it,” Ferguson said.
The Daily’s transition to a brand new space has been but a dream for the students and professional employees who work on one of the largest student newspaper staffs in the nation. It also follows another change in the organization, a transition from the Iowa State Daily to the Iowa State Daily Media Group, a move which took effect last July, at the beginning of the ‘15-16 fiscal year.
The ISD Media Group is the brainchild of Lawrence Cunningham, ‘03, publisher and general manager of the Iowa State Daily Media Group, and the fruition of his efforts to diversify the organization.
> “Ultimately, it’s not about leaving Hamilton Hall, it’s about moving to a space that allows us to better serve our students," says Lawrence Cunningham.
“It gives us a lot more flexibility still and so we’re starting to see that based on the ideas we’re coming up with and where we want to go and customers are valuing that vision a lot more,” Cunningham said.
With the organization’s move to Campustown, his vision finally seems to be manifesting itself.
“Ultimately, it’s not about leaving Hamilton Hall, it’s about moving to a space that allows us to better serve our students,” Cunningham said. “Our new space will have a photography and videography studio in it; it’ll have conference rooms and board rooms; it just adds the legitimacy to the vision and the direction that the organization is going.”
Throughout his one-and-a-half years back working at the Daily, Cunningham has worked with ISU administrators to stake out new roles for the Daily at the university. While the media group’s primary focus will still be on strengthening the Iowa State Daily as a news product, the group’s move came with the launch of a new student-run creative services agency.
Dubbed the Model Farm, a name that pays homage to the university’s origins — Iowa State was originally named the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm — this agency will offer photo, video and graphic design services; content creation and marketing services; and copy- and PR-writing services, among others, to businesses, ISU departments, campus organizations and other groups.
“Our goal is to cultivate creativity here and grow the next generation of business leaders through the experiential learning programs,” Cunningham said. “The new space is going to allow us to have some additional opportunities in the academic realm that we don’t have today—the ability to serve a wider cross-section of Iowa State students, which is important to us.”
Read more about the Model Farm in this Iowa State News Service release.
The new, nearly 8,000 square foot space is almost four times the size of 108 Hamilton and features an open floor plan, which will make it easier for students to work individually or in teams, says Mark Witherspoon, the Daily’s editorial adviser. Being in a new building, the space will have all new furniture and amenities. Computers are the only things that came with the Daily to its new space.
This move wouldn’t have been feasible without the support of the university, which has footed the cost of the Daily’s new facility and their moving expenses. For Dr. Thomas Hill, vice president of student affairs, the university’s investment speaks to the importance that the university administration sees in having a student newspaper on campus.
But with that support, Cunningham says, comes higher expectations for the Daily staff and the work that they produce. To him and the staff, it’s an exciting challenge.
“The feeling we get is that if people are investing this much in us, they must believe in us,” said Ferguson. “People are just excited and I’m excited to prove that we’re worth it.”