IOWA CITY — Ten years ago, when Jason Brummond was editor of the Daily Iowan newspaper, the paper’s website was little more than an electronic version of the printed paper, its television operation prerecorded segments that ran over and over the following day and Facebook had only recently launched to the public.
Now, as publisher of the University of Iowa’s 10,000-circulation student newspaper, Brummond is guiding the DI through a new round of changes while continuing to give students real-world skills they can use after graduation.
“What is going to happen the next two, five, 10 years, nobody really knows,” he said. “Figuring that out is what is really interesting to me.”
Brummond, 33, became publisher in May 2017, succeeding Bill Casey, who retired last spring after publishing the DI for 41 years.
“He’s a perfect for the role,” Casey said of Brummond. “He’s right in the mix and has been for 10 years. He’s also an extremely decent human being.”
Brummond, an Iowa City native, graduated from the UI in 2008 after serving as sports editor and editor of the DI. After graduation, he wrote for the Associated Press, UWire and The Gazette before joining Frank N. Magid Associates, in Marion, where he was a consultant for television stations and newspaper companies trying to expand their audience reach and advertising.
Brummond earned an MBA from the UI in 2014.
“In a lot of ways, these were perfect building blocks to get where I am now,” he said.
As DI publisher, Brummond oversees a print product, television station, website and social media. About 100 UI students are on the DI staff, including nine who have four-year scholarships. The DI scholarship program, which Casey started in 1987, this year will reach $1 million in scholarships provided.
The oldest student-run newspaper west of the Mississippi River, the DI will celebrate 150 years this summer with a reunion in July.
The DI placed in 14 categories at last year’s Iowa Newspaper Association awards, winning nine first-place awards among professional newspapers with comparable circulation, the DI reported.
While many DI readers are on the Iowa City campus, the bulk of the online audience is outside Johnson County and half lives outside Iowa, Brummond said.
“A large part are alums, or parents of students or Hawkeye fans,” he said. “We’re striving to be more about the impact on campus, (writing) interesting stories that people outside Iowa City or outside Iowa would care about.”
Snapchat, a social media platform in which messages and video disappear after viewing, asked 10 college student newspapers, including the DI, last year to participate in Snapchat Discover. The DI publishes 12 to 15 stories each Friday, Brummond said. Half are specially-designed versions of print stories, but half are more lighthearted content, such as favorite trick-or-treat candy, he said.
“Everyone in media is trying to figure out how we reach these 19- to 23- or 24-year-olds and Snapchat is kind of their top social media platform, so this is a new way, a fun way for us to engage with them,” Brummond said.
Newspapers around the world are struggling to cover expenses in the face of declining advertising revenue. Brummond is renegotiating the DI’s contract with the university to give the not-for-profit news organization increased flexibility should Brummond decide to reduce summer publication days.
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“This really has felt like we’re working toward the same goal: How do we maintain or grow our status as a top college newspaper?”
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