Creating skills for a lifetime

CM Life celebrates century of preparing students for careers in communications

| Author: Emily Stulz

The first edition of Central Normal Life, the first student-published newspaper on campus, appeared Dec. 2, 1919. A century later, "Lifers" are still learning the same thing: outstanding communication skills that lead to great careers in multiple fields.

"Students walk away with the skills for a lifetime, not just for a job," said Dave Clark, director of student media and 1996 alum.

Commemorate 100 years of CM Life

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Central Michigan Life from 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Reunite with alumni, faculty and friends; meet current students; and celebrate a century of student journalism. Purchase your tickets through CMU's Alumni Association.

CM Life's mission is to present journalistic coverage of events and issues affecting the CMU community. Over the years it's built a reputation as one of the leading student news sources in the Midwest.

Any given day, CM Life's staff will update its website, post to their numerous social media accounts, shoot a variety of photo galleries, and record multiple videos and podcasts — all on top of publishing a weekly print edition.

Learning and growing together

While CM Life predates CMU's journalism department by 40 years, the two have grown side by side since 1959.

"The journalism department, the broadcast and cinematic arts department, and student media are hand in hand, working in conjunction," Clark said. "We have all moved forward together. That's one of the strengths of our college."

"In recent years, there have been some real challenges in the industry, and our program has diversified in response to those changes," said Timothy Boudreau, chair of the journalism department and 1981 alum. "We have gone from a program that was primarily focused on print and traditional journalism, to a program with a broader focus so our students leave here with a more diverse skill set.

"They are no longer strictly print journalists. They are multimedia journalists in every sense of the word."

Being the learning laboratory

While Boudreau and other faculty help prepare students in the classroom, CM Life takes them to the newsroom.

"This is the journalism and advertising laboratory," Clark said. "Students have learned something in class; they can bring that concept into the laboratory and experiment with it."

The learning laboratory of CM Life is not limited to journalists alone. Advertising is one of the journalism department's largest majors, and students in the program are integral to the student media company's success. Most recently, CM Life was named College Media Company of the Year by the College Business and Advertising Managers for the sixth consecutive year.

"Students are learning how to create compelling ads, write effective ad copy and reach audiences by applying the skills they've learned in the classroom," Boudreau said. "CM Life lets them do that."

Impacting every generation

Current CM Life Editor-in-Chief Dylan Goetz arrived at CMU in the fall of 2016 with a journalism class on his schedule, an interest in writing and a keen eye that soon spotted a poster advertising CM Life's open house.

"I had no experience. I was pretty green — a blank slate," Goetz said. "But Greg Wickliffe (then sports editor) gave me an opportunity, and I tried to make the most of it."

Fast forward three and a half years, and Goetz's portfolio of work showcases his coverage of everything from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's inauguration to the historic NCAA championship run of the CMU's women's basketball team in 2018.

Meanwhile, since his graduation in 2017, Wickliffe continues to carve his reputation as a Michigan sports reporter.

"CM Life opened the door to a world I didn't know was there for me," Wickliffe says. "I knew I wanted to be a sportswriter, but I wasn't sure how I was going to do it. CM Life gave me the tools to earn my internships, which also turned into full-time jobs."

Documenting a century

Explore CM Life's history in a few easy clicks courtesy of CMU's Clarke Historical Library.

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