East Tennessean, the university’s student-run newspaper, turns 100

Published 11:13 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – A December 19, 1941, edition carried student and faculty perspectives about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor only a few days earlier.

A headline that stretched across the front page in late 1945 declared “campus enrollment zooms up.”

The school’s homecoming game against nearby Carson-Newman University made up a front page in October 1953 that also featured articles about former Tennessee Gov. Jim McCord and activities happening in the Science Club.

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For a century, the East Tennessean, a student-run newspaper housed on the university’s main campus, has covered scores of activities and initiatives at East Tennessee State University.

Since the first edition in 1923, that list has included athletics, major events, academic programs, student spotlights, the occasional controversy and much more.

“For the East Tennessean to be able to celebrate 100 years of student collaboration and experience, along with highlighting important issues and subjects, is so impactful. I have been very blessed to serve as executive editor at the start of the centennial celebration, and I look forward to keeping up with the East Tennessean for many years to come,” said Allison Winters, the paper’s executive editor and a graduate student at ETSU. “I am proud of the work we continue to publish, even as the world seems to be stepping away from print journalism.”

Scores of studies have made plain the importance of local journalism.

Quality coverage of local events often brings benefits, including increased voter turnout and higher civic engagement. At the same time, publications have suffered mightily in recent decades, losing both subscribers and advertising dollars.

The East Tennessean, and the students who run it, are accustomed to progressing with changing economic and technological times. Once only a printed publication, the newspaper now has a robust website, filled with videos and graphics, and an active social media presence.

“Being part of a student publication that has not only survived, but thrived, for 100 years is a humbling experience,” said Don Armstrong, a former regional journalist, the current director of Student Media and the adviser to the East Tennessean.

A core element to ETSU’s approach to education is providing hands-on learning opportunities to students, helping them move seamlessly from enrolled to employed. For future reporters, photographers and writers, the East Tennessean has proved fertile ground.

“The East Tennessean has spotlighted campus, community and world events and issues for a century, while also giving countless students the opportunity to gain experience working for the publication,” Armstrong said.

Winters added: “The East Tennessean is a vital part of ETSU’s ecosystem, and it provides professional writing, photography and editing experience to students across all disciplines. The East Tennessean is unique in the way that students from any major can work for the publication. We have English, international studies, political science, art and nursing students all working together on a publication that serves to represent this campus.”

What’s next for the newspaper?

“The East Tennessean continues to evolve just as other professional media platforms do,” said Armstrong. “I think it’s in a good position to hopefully prosper for another 100 years.”

Explore the latest East Tennessean work at easttennessean.com.