Iowa State Student Newspaper Publishes Special Digital Edition Hours After School’s Historic Football Victory

On Friday night, the eyes and hearts of college football fans nationwide opened to an underdog hero of instantly-mythical proportions: Iowa State University.  Of course, as any living, breathing human who has ever played Madden knows by now, the ISU Cyclones staged a double-overtime, come-from-behind win this past Friday against the then-undefeated, second-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.

To this college sports fan, the historic victory brings to mind images of a narrowly-missed field goal, a batted-intercepted OT pass, a calm-cool-collected redshirt freshman QB, fans storming the field and singing “Sweet Caroline”– and a special digital edition of The Iowa State Daily, ISU’s student newspaper.

A screenshot of the front page of The Iowa State Daily "football edition."

As the paper’s editorial adviser’s Mark Witherspoon recounted in a post-game message on a popular college media advisers’ list-serv, roughly 20 staffers gathered to create the seven-page PDF “football edition.”  As he wrote, “The game was over about 11:30, they filled the newsroom by midnight, and worked until at least 5 or 6 a.m. . . . to get the special edition out.  It’s filled with wonderful photos, wonderful stories, an editorial eating crow on the sports guys’ wrong predictions, photo blogs, and digital highlights of the game.

“They collaborated with both isuTV and the two staff members of The Daily O’Collegian [the student paper at OSU] to get their video, their photos, and a column from the OK State side with its tragedy-filled day [a plane crash killed two OSU women’s basketball coaches].  They tweeted and Facebooked to get reactions from fans and former ISU athletes and suggestions for headlines and stories.”

According to a related post by Charles Apple at ACES, the key design element was freedom: “Because there was no press configuration to worry about, the ISD folks could break all sorts of rules.  Who cares about color positions if you’re not actually printing copies?  Who cares if you insert doubletrucks into places where they physically wouldn’t fit?”

ISD editor-in-chief Jake Lovett told Apple the first three pages of the paper were purposefully printed sideways, and will be available as keepsake posters for fans who want to frame and hang their memories.

A screenshot of page 4 of The Iowa State Daily "football edition."

Overall, as Witherspoon rightfully summarized the issue: “It’s a marvelous example of doing journalism in the digital age.”

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