Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Easterner: The Birth of Student News at Ball State

The Ball State University Student Newspaper collection provides access to full-text searchable digitized student newspapers from Ball State's history, dating to 1922. Included in this collection are The Ball State Daily News (1968-present) and its predecessors, The Ball State News (1937-1968) and The Easterner (1922-1937). At present, issues from 1922 to 1929 are available electronically. The online availability of these early newspapers will provide a first-hand look at the humble beginnings of the student press at Ball State.
The Easterner, the predecessor of the modern Ball State Daily News, published its first edition on March 30, 1922, debuting as a 4-page weekly paper which sold for $0.05 per copy. Subscriptions were sold at $0.40 a term and $0.75 for two terms. Shown above is the staff of the Easterner in 1922.

At the outset, the paper had a distinctly campus feel, devoting itself to the coverage of campus events, including sporting events, performances, elections, and guest speakers, and reporting on the accomplishments of faculty and students. The activities of social organizations were well-documented, helping keep students aware of activities of interest. Jokes, riddles, and poetry could also be frequently found in the inside pages, and cartoons and illustrations could often be found on the paper's cover. The name of the publication reflects the fact that the school was then known as the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division.

Thomas J. Breitweiser, Dean of the Eastern Division and Professor of Psychology and History of Education, played a critical role in the founding of The Easterner, serving as the paper's faculty sponsor at its inception. The initial staff of the paper consisted of W. C. Harding as editor, Arthur Campbell as assistant editor, Basil Swinford as business manager, Luther Myers as assistant business manager, Roy Reynolds as advertising manager, Margaret Medsker as society editor, Thelma Carter as exchange editor, Fred Shroyer as circulation manager, and Charles McComas as athletic editor.

Swinford, who graduated later that year, was quite the school stalwart; in addition to his serving as business manager for the paper, he was also the assistant business manager for the 1922 Orient (the yearbook), the secretary-treasurer for his senior class, a member of the Navajo fraternity, a basketball letter winner in 1921, and a member of five additional school clubs. Swinford would go on to serve as Associate Professor of Business Education from 1926 to 1962 at Ball State. His interest in the student press did not wane as a faculty member, as he served as business advisor for the student newspaper during his years as a professor. Basil Swinford would later be honored as a namesake for the Botsford/Swinford halls in the Johnson Complex.

On February 26, 1937, years after the school became known as Ball State Teachers College, The Easterner changed its name to the Ball State News. On September 12, 1968, as a result of the increase in publication frequency, the paper became known as the Ball State University Daily News. In subsequent years, the paper was known by that name, the Daily News, and The Ball State Daily News, and eventually chose The Ball State Daily News as its permanent name.