Iowa State Daily selects 2015-16 editor in chief


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Danielle Ferguson, junior in journalism and mass communication, will be the Iowa State Daily editor-in-chief for the 2015-16 school year.

Kelly Mcgowan

Danielle Ferguson sat with two other editors at the news desk around a Joe’s Pizza box before learning she would be the next 2015-16 editor-in-chief of the Iowa State Daily Media Group.

Like any other day in the newsroom, the three were ensuring the next day’s paper was written, edited and sent to the press.

But on Wednesday night, there was extra stress.

Madison Arnold, Makayla Tendall and Ferguson, all juniors in journalism and mass communication, were waiting together for word on who would be the editor in chief for the 125th year of the Iowa State Daily, which this year became the Iowa State Daily Media Group.

A siren blared outside. Tendall looked out the window and turned on the police scanner app on her phone. An automatic fire alarm at Willow Hall. Building evacuated. Nothing more.

They continued talking about the impact past editors-in-chief had on them. The conversation moved along and the wait continued.

Candidates applied with a cover letter, résumé, transcript, five to 10 work samples and a strategic plan. In these extensive plans, candidates analyzed the Daily’s current state and explained how they could execute their goals for improving it.

They presented their plans to the group’s publication board, a group of media professionals and student representatives from across campus. The board went into closed session and discussed their decision to choose the applicant who best fit the direction of the Daily.

Lawrence Cunningham reports to the board as the general manager of the media group.  

“The vision of the board is that we are relevant to the students we serve,” Cunningham said.

This theme Cunningham talked about carried throughout the three candidates’ strategic plans. The Daily has been making efforts to evolve in a world of changing media by working in a 24-hour news cycle. This has been the goal, Cunningham said.

This year, the media group launched a digital app and released a basketball magazine called Hoops, with an interactive website unique only to the magazine. 

“We need someone who is forward-thinking and willing to break the mold,” Cunningham said.

The board was looking for an editor with their finger on the pulse of the campus. They looked for someone with proven experience, a track record of success and a passion for what they do.

“All three of these candidates are spectacular,” Cunningham said. “There’s three top-level internships for journalism in the state and all three of these women are the ones who received those.”

Ferguson will intern at the Des Moines Register, Arnold will be at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Tendall will be at Iowa Watch.

“These women are fantastic,” Cunningham said. “And everyone in the state recognized how good they are.”

Chris Conetzkey, editor of the Des Moines Business Record, is a professional representative on the board and former editor-in-chief in 2009. He explained the primary goal of the organization is to help students every day.

“I think that means coming to work every day and deciding that you’re going to help everyone on your staff be the best they can be and in turn serve the Iowa State community the best you can” Conetzkey said. “It’s a selfless position.”

After an hour and 20 minutes of deliberation, the board called the candidates in for the announcement. Preston Warnick, chair of the board, said the three were some of the best the board had seen in years, then announced Ferguson as editor-in-chief.

Ferguson started at the Daily her freshman year. She has been a news reporter, copy editor and news editor for student life. She covered Faculty Senate, Board of Regents and other various topics.

“I’m grateful,” Ferguson said. “The Daily is a great organization and I’m excited that they are willing to let me lead it.”

She said she looks forward to working with Arnold and Tendall as well.

“If the three of us put our heads together, it’s going to be a great year,” Ferguson said. “They both have skills that I don’t.”

Kyle Heim, sophomore in journalism and mass communication will serve as the summer editor-in-chief. Heim has been at the Daily for two years, specializing in sports reporting and is currently copy chief.