As the last few weeks of the semester come to a close, so comes the last issue of The North Wind’s 40th anniversary of existence.
The North Wind as we know it today was born in 1972, with its first issue printed on September 14 after a long struggle to make the newspaper independent from the school’s administration. Its previous incarnations included the Northern News, Northern College News and Northern Normal News, which was first published in January of 1919.
The North Wind’s first few years on campus had its share of challenges, many of which former North Wind adviser Gerald Waite witnessed in his almost 20-year run with the paper.
“When I came here as adviser, there was really no journalism classes at all,” Waite said. “We had a lot of developing to do in a lot of ways, writing, layout and so on.”
By becoming independent of the administration, funding for The North Wind had to be derived through alternative means, which brought about the creation of the Student Activity Fee at Northern.
According to graduate thesis “The History of Student Journalism at Northern Michigan University, 1919-2002” administration had ceased funding not only the student newspaper, but also the concert and lecture series on campus. The creation of the student activity fee allowed the students to have a say not only with what entertainment was brought to campus, but also in how they chose to run their newspaper.
“Funding has always come from the sStudent Activity Fee as part of the designated funds of the fee,” said Bill Bernard, associate provost for student affairs.
Along with establishing the Student Activity Fee, when The North Wind was created, a board of directors for the paper, composed of both faculty and students, was also made to ensure that it operated within its bylaws.
“The board is to oversee the operation of the newspaper, not in a day-to-day way, more to make sure the paper meets fiduciary responsibilities and make sure it follows its bylaws,” Bernard said.
Not only were there obstacles in the form of funding, The North Wind staff also dealt with having their headquarters relocated a few times in the past 40 years. The staff have made their home in two locations in the UC, the basement of Lee Hall and now have returned to the UC where the office is currently located in Room 2310, according to “The History of Student Journalism.”
Although there were trials along the way, The North Wind still managed to attain a standard of journalism that has been awarded several times throughout the years. Since its beginning, the paper has earned more than 18 awards from different organizations, including the Associated Collegiate Press, according to “The History of Student Journalism.”
“We won a number of awards from different organizations,” Waite said. “I think the interest that the students take in the paper from year to year was heartening. It wasn’t a casual sort of organization, and they wanted to improve.”
Former North Wind staff members have gone on to find careers in a variety of fields. NMU alumni Ken Silfven, class of 1983, now works as the deputy press secretary for Governor Rick Snyder.
“I owe a lot to The North Wind in terms of personal friendships and professional development,” Silfven said. “Even though it’s been 30 years since I was part of The North Wind team, I still have fond memories of my time there, and also developed friendships that last to this day.
“It was a great, hands-on way to learn the craft of journalism. The disciplined writing, attention to detail and management skills that I learned at The North Wind were invaluable in preparing me for a fulfilling career in communications.”
Waite also remembers his time with the paper fondly.
“Working with the students and seeing their progress, I enjoyed getting out of the office and the classroom and working with the students both one on one and as a group,” Waite said. “It was a good thing, and useful too. Not only did I enjoy doing it, but it was of practical use to the students to work on a newspaper and of course useful to the community as well.”
While the years have passed and things have changed, one thing remains the same; our staff at The North Wind continues to be committed to serving the NMU community.