The State News: Wikis


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The State News
Type Daily newspaper
Format Berliner
Owner Independent
Founded 1909
Headquarters East Lansing, Michigan
Official website

The State News is the student newspaper of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. It is supported by a combination of advertising revenue and a $5 refundable tax that students pay at each semester's matriculation. Though The State News is supported by a student tax, the faculty and administration do not interfere in the paper's content. The State News is governed by a Board of Directors, which comprises journalism professionals, faculty and students. Unlike many newspapers, The State News does not employ an ombudsman. In 2008, the Princeton Review's guide to the top 366 colleges [1] ranked The State News as the #11 best college newspaper in the country. Also in 2008, both the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Collegiate Press rated The State News among the nation's best daily college newspapers.



The State News traces its roots to March 10, 1909. It was first dubbed The Holcad, chosen by the president of the then-Michigan Agricultural College. Holcad was the name of a ship that carried news from seaport to seaport in ancient Greece. The newspaper was seen as a way for students to defend themselves against charges of hooliganism by the Lansing press.

In 1925, the newspaper changed its name to the Michigan State News. Eventually, this got clipped to The State News. The paper was overseen by a university-run publications board.

In 1971, the newspaper was spun off from the university into a nonprofit corporation, State News Inc., governed by its own board of directors. The move was designed to protect the student publication from interference by university administrators who might disagree with its content. Its incorporation also protected the university from liability of anything published in The State News. The newspaper's masthead references this, referring to the publication as "Michigan State University's Independent Voice."

In August 2005, The State News moved its offices from the Student Services Building, where it had resided since the building's opening in 1957, to an off-campus location at 435 E. Grand River Ave. Prior to its location at the Student Services Building, the newspaper had its offices in the MSU Union.

Controversy and criticism

Conservative critics argue that The State News has a liberal lean because the paper's editorials often support Democratic candidates and positions.

The paper's liberal cartoons have also been controversial. In 2000, The State News published Fetus-X which regularly contained psychadelic pictures of Jesus breakdancing with dead babies. After protests from the Catholic League, The State News fired artists Eric Millikin and Casey Sorrow.

On Veterans Day, 2005, editorial cartoonist Mike Ramsey drew a piece that showed a World War II soldier who liberated concentration camps conversing with a modern-day soldier who was shown holding a torture device. In response, Young Americans for Freedom and the College Republicans picketed the offices of The State News and called for Ramsey's dismissal. Ramsey was not fired.

The State News has also come under fire for running advertisements from controversial sources. In 2003, an advertisement showed Palestinians celebrating in the street while Israelis lit candles and prayed. The caption stated that these were the reactions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Pro-Palestinian groups protested outside the Student Services building and demanded their taxes be refunded.

In 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments regarding The State News' lawsuit against MSU over Freedom of Information Act issues.

Internal controversies include a group of junior editors dissatisfied with the editor-in-chief starting a weekly newspaper, Campus Observer, in 1968. The following year, the managing editor took over the editorial reins in response to staff grumbling. In April 1977, a one-day newsroom staff walkout followed the board's appointment of the next top editor when the staff's recommendation was not picked.

In June 1950, the first issue of the summer edition of The State News carried an editorial critical of the Michigan Department of the American Legion's Boy's State program held on the Michigan State College campus. Several days later, June 25, North Korea invaded South Korea initiating the Korean War. The following Monday the state American Legion held its summer encampment and adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of The State News and the expelling of its student editor, Ron M. Linton. Later that week, Michigan State suspended further summer publication of the paper but declined to expel its editor. The school did however announce the appointment of a full time college employee, William McIlrath, as director of the publication with authority over the paper's content. It was later learned that the school had already planned this action but used this incident as a rationale for its action. This culminated a period of six years—since the end of World War II—of increasing irritation of the school's administration by the independent attitude of the student journalists. Returning veterans were a significant portion of the paper's staff and being several years older than students enrolled directly from high school and matured by war they tended to exercise a more critical attitude toward campus events. This led to a series of articles and editorials about the difficulty African-American male students had in getting haircuts including the refusal of the Union's barber shop to service African-Americans. Additionally was a series critical of the school's plan to require that male cooperative residences hire "house mothers" (ultimately the coops were exempted but fraternities were not). The State News, to the administration's consternation, exposed their efforts to block unionization of dinning room and school service employees.[citation needed]

In another controversy, when the local Congressman demanded in 1950 that Michigan State remove left-leaning economist Paul Douglas (later U.S. Senator from Illinois) from its lecture series the paper fought back in a series of editorials that resulted in the Congressman turning tail. The State News was the first U.S. daily newspaper, commercial or student, to editorially criticize then U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) for his sweeping charges without proof of communist activities by a number of citizens.[citation needed]

On election day, 1948, The State News, going to press at 7 a.m., became the only morning daily to place Harry S. Truman in the lead for President.[citation needed]

Journalistic opportunity

Many of the paper's staffers have gone on to professional internships and jobs at the nation's largest newspapers. Alumni of The State News work for news organizations around the world.

The newspaper has won the Associated Collegiate Press' Pacemaker award 17 times. The award, considered one of college journalism's top prizes, was won most recently in 2009. It won in 2003 for coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a campus riot later in the spring of that year.

The Society of Professional Journalists ranked The State News among the nation's three best college dailies in 2007.

Reporters often travel to cover news, especially to out-of-state sporting events, the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions and the 2009 presidential inauguration. Clinics and professional development opportunities are provided. A staff photographer at the paper has been named Michigan's College Photographer of the Year by the Michigan Press Photographers' Association each year for most of the last decade.

Alumni also have won Pulitzer Prizes, including M.L. Elrick who was part of the Detroit Free Press staff that won the journalism award in April 2009 for their coverage of the texting message scandal of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Elrick wrote for the State News in 1987-88.

Jim Mitzelfeld won in 1994 for beat reporting at The Detroit News, 11 years after serving as editor-in-chief.

Publishing and distribution

Free copies of the paper are available online or at green-colored newsstands around campus and the city. The State News prints 27,500 copies of the paper Monday through Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters, and 14,000 copies two days a week during the summer. Those circulation figures make The State News one of the largest collegiate newspapers in the country. The paper is not published on weekends (however, it does have a weekend edition distributed on Friday), holidays, or semester breaks, though news is constantly updated at The State News has a readership of more than 65,000 students, faculty, staff and residents of the cities surrounding the university.

History of editors in chief

  • M.E. Bottomley, 1917 (managing editor)
  • G.O. Stewart, 1916 (managing editor)
  • T.C. Dee, 1917 (managing editor)
  • Tom Nicholson, 1949-50;
  • Herman Graulich, 1951-52;
  • Jack Kole, 1954-55;
  • Mel Reiter 1957-58;
  • Ben Burns early 1962-63;
  • Bruce Fabricant 1963-64;
  • Kyle Kerbawy, 1966-67;
  • Jim Spaniolo 1967-68;
  • Edward Brill 1968-69;
  • Susan Ager, 1974-75
  • John Tingwall, 1975-76
  • Mary Ann ChickShaw (Chick Whiteside), 1976-77
  • Michael Tanimura 1977-78; managing editor, Kat Brown
  • James L. Smith, 1978-79; managing editor, Anne Stuart
  • Jim Mitzelfeld 1982-83;
  • Joe Serwach, 1985-86
  • Kevin Roberts, 1987-88
  • Kelly Root, 1988-89
  • John Secor, 1989-1990
  • Bill Frischling, 1992-1993
  • Suzette Hackney 1993-94;
  • Rachel Perry, 1994-95
  • Christine Macdonald 1996
  • Chris Solari 1997
  • Jonathan Brunt 1998;
  • Sharon Terlep 1999;
  • David Miller 2000;
  • Mary Sell 2001;
  • Jeremy Steele 2002;
  • Kevin J. Hardy 2003;
  • Ed Ronco 2004;
  • Amy Bartner 2005;
  • Nick Mrozowski 2006;
  • Margaret Harding 2007 (spring, fall);
  • Laura Misjak 2007 (summer);
  • Laura Misjak 2008 (spring, fall);
  • Matt Bishop, 2008 (summer);
  • Kristen M. Daum 2009 (spring);
  • Whitney Gronski, 2009 (summer, fall)
  • Jacob Carpenter, 2010 (spring)


In 2006, the State News Alumni Association [2] honored the first 15 inductees to its State News Hall of Fame. The first class included:

  • A.A. Applegate, MSU journalism chairman and mentor to students at The State News, 1936-55;
  • Len Barnes, news staff and editor, 1938-42, who along with Sheldon Moyer, is credited with taking The State News from a three-day-a-week paper to a five-day-a-week paper featuring a wire service;
  • Lou Berman, general manager, 1961-1972, who is credited with saving the newspaper from potential ruin;
  • Ben Burns, reporter and editor, 1958-63, who is a former executive editor of The Detroit News and head of the journalism program at Wayne State University;
  • Phil Frank, cartoonist, 1961-65, who went on to publish the strip Farley in the San Francisco Chronicle;
  • Carole Leigh Hutton, reporter and editor, 1975-78, who helped hold The State News together during a staff walkout in the 1970s and the first female publisher and editor of the Detroit Free Press;
  • Charles P. “Lash” Larrowe, faculty columnist, 1971-1989, who was an economics professor emeritus famous for his satirical column;
  • Ron Linton, night editor and editor, 1947-1950, who was a senior consultant for the Carmen Group, served in high-level positions in Congress, worked on John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign and was named director of Economic Utilization Policy at the Department of Defense;
  • Dick Milliman, news staff, 1946-50; board member, 1978-85, 1991-96, 2002-present, who is the founder of Milliman Communications, which has published more than 25 community newspapers in Michigan.
  • Jim Mitzelfeld, editor in chief, 1982-83, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 as a reporter for The Detroit News and is now an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department
  • Jim Quello, editor, 1935, who served on the Federal Communications Commission for more than 23 years, including 11 months as interim chairman in 1993;
  • Dave Rood, news staff, 1946-50, who in 1977 as editor of The Escanaba Daily Press was asked by his paper’s corporate publisher to run two stories about President Jimmy Carter. When Rood refused, saying the stories were shoddy journalism, he was fired. His stand for journalistic principles earned him national attention and a place in the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame;
  • Jim Spaniolo, editor in chief, 1967-68, a former dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences who in 2003 was named president of the University of Texas at Arlington;
  • James P. Sterba, news staffer, 1960s, a foreign correspondent, war correspondent and national correspondent for three decades at The New York Times and then at The Wall Street Journal. He is currently a senior correspondent in the New York bureau of The Wall Street Journal;
  • Jerry ter Horst, reporter and night editor, 1941-43, who served as President Gerald Ford's press secretary but resigned one month later to protest the pardon of Richard Nixon.

External links

  • The State News is online at
  • As of August 2006, The State News has a new entertainment website that includes a Lansing area Dining Guide, Music/Movie Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and a calendar with upcoming events. The website is called Lansing Lowdown and is online at
  • The State News Alumni Association is online at


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