Letter from the Editor: The Herald turns 98

Debra Murray, Editor-in-Chief

Today, the Herald is celebrating its 98th birthday! 

On Jan. 29, 1925, the Herald published its first issue with the lead headline saying “The College Heights Herald makes debut.” The past ninety-eight years have allowed thousands of student journalists to share stories of the WKU community. 

To our readers, the Herald may be a way that you learn about campus issues or connect with the Bowling Green community – but to me, the Herald has been a significant part of my experience at WKU. I am grateful to be celebrating its 98th birthday today! 

Another upcoming anniversary is WKU’s lawsuit against the Herald after a reporter requested sexual misconduct records. ​​On May 4, 2017, the Herald published “In the Dark,” an in-depth report in which former Herald staffer Nicole Ares reported on more than 1,200 pages of records obtained through public records requests to all eight public Kentucky universities. WKU and Kentucky State University denied the request. The Herald received in the records 2021. However, in our review, we found that those records were seriously overreacted. 

I worked alongside Lily Burris, a former Herald editor-in-chief, on reporting on the records we received in 2021. Our work revealed that WKU found, in nine cases, enough evidence that resulted in the resignation or retirement of faculty or staff members, effectively ending the investigation before a formal conclusion.

This lawsuit is soon-to-be six years old and continues to serve as an example of the necessary perseverance by journalists to tell the truth. The lawsuit started prior to my time as a student and will likely continue after I have graduated, but will remain as a lesson to anyone who has ever worked on it to hold people in power accountable. 

Beyond challenging authority, the Herald has numerous accomplishments that are a reflection of all the effort put into by staffers the past almost hundred years. 

The Herald has won the National Pacemaker Award, the top honor for a student-run publication, 21 times — its first was in 1981 and the most recent were in 2022, for the print edition and the website. In the world of college journalism, this is almost unheard of.  The Herald recently was named as No. 6 on the list of the 100 most successful student media outlets as measured by the ACP College Pacemaker Awards, which were first given in 1927.

The Herald has provided campus with news and a better connection to the community – but also has given our staffers and alumni with experience that benefit them professionally. Herald alumni have gone on to work at the Washington Post, the New York Times, NPR and beyond. 

Last semester, the Herald debuted as a newsmagazine after previously printing consistently on newsprint. This took months of planning and lots of collaboration between an amazing group of staffers. The newest issue of the Herald – “The Climate Issue” – will be distributed around campus on Monday, Jan. 30.

Editor-in-Chief Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy.