Spring break special editions
By Don Muhm, 1952

Editor’s note: For many years ISC/ISU journalism students published special editions of Iowa community newspapers during the break between winter and spring quarters. Don Muhm, class of 1952, a member of the Greenlee School’s Advisory Council, participated in this program for two years.

It was considered an honor for us journalism students at Iowa State to be selected to participate in spring break trips to publish special editions of Iowa community newspapers.

The program was designed to give selected students the opportunity for hands-on experience actually producing a week’s newspaper. Basically, students did it all—from selling ads to writing editorials, from routine reporting such as covering a school board meeting or the local police blotter to in-depth coverage of local issues.

It was a dose of real-life stuff and of practical journalism in a real working environment away from the sterile land of academia and classroom theory and the like. For the handful of participants at each of the host community newspapers, that week of actual newspapering was awfully important—especially so to those of us former farm kids who had no newspaper background at all and who had never been in a newsroom, pressroom or the like.

One journalism faculty member usually accompanied the student delegation, but that person was not there as a censoring editor. The faculty member’s role, instead, was to advise and to answer any questions that might arise during that week of real-life, on-the-street journalism.

My first spring break came in March 1950, when I became—for the week only, of course—the farm editor of The Belmond Independent in the northern Iowa community. It was really my first taste of a lifestyle I would eventually achieve for nearly 40 years, working as farm editor for two major Midwest newspapers, the Omaha World-Herald and The Des Moines Register and Tribune.

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