Founded in 1921 and housed in the Michigan State University School of Journalism, the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association is a nonprofit organization composed of scholastic journalism teachers and publications advisers and their students. MIPA is committed to promoting and recognizing excellence in scholastic journalism at all levels through education, training and support of student journalists and their advisers.
In 1921, high schools in the Detroit area announced formation of the organization for “students dedicated to the improvements of communication through better school publications.”
The first annual convention for what was then the “High School Editors Conference” — and is now the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association — was May 22, 1922.
FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING
The University of Michigan’s chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism group now known as the Society of Professional Journalists, sponsored the first meeting, which included almost 100 editors and advisers. The meeting included three days of educational and social events.
It was at this first meeting that a constitution was written, and the motto “A Better Press for a Better World” was proclaimed. Professor John L. Brumm, journalism department chair, began his many years of dedication to high school journalists with this first meeting.
Awards for weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and annual high school publications were started at the second MIPA conference in 1923, along with the first MIPA bulletin. This publication was given its current title, STET, in 1975.
Sigma Delta Chi continued to head MIPA until 1927, when the U-M journalism department took over direction of the organization. Sigma Delta Chi remained actively involved. Brumm explained the move saying, “Due to the turnover in SDX members that had been in charge of conferences in the past, while ‘I stay on and on,’ it had been decreed that I should carry the traditions of MIPA along from generation to generation.”
During World War II, MIPA discontinued activities except for the critiquing of high school publications. Re-activated in 1948, MIPA resumed all traditional activities with one major change: one-day conventions replaced the three-day affairs. In addition, more time was allotted to the study of common journalism problems.
By 1950, about 1,300 student journalists were representing more than 100 schools at the convention. Each convention, then as now, featured a number of well-known figures speaking on their particular journalistic occupations.
MIPA MOVES TO CMU
After 50 years of successful guidance for student journalists, MIPA sponsorship moved from U-M to the Department of Journalism at Central Michigan University under the direction of Dr. Thomas Rood.
After moving to CMU, MIPA focused on establishing and conducting regional workshops and developing contests in newspaper and yearbook categories, in addition to the annual state conference.
One day before the annual conference, about 20 students, selected from throughout the state, would come to CMU to publish a newspaper, The Student Journalist, on conference activities and concerns of scholastic journalism. The newspaper was discontinued, although the designation of Student Journalist Staff remains for MIPA’s “all-state” team of graduating seniors.
RELOCATION TO MSU
In fall 1982, MIPA sponsorship moved to the Michigan State University School of Journalism, chaired by Dr. Stanley Soffin. Throughout 1982-83, the MIPA executive director was Wally Niebauer, a doctoral candidate in mass communication. Christine Steger-Gratz took over in August 1983. MIPA membership in 1986 included 113 advisers from 96 schools.
Cheryl Pell took over the executive director position in the summer of 1987. The director’s position became a full-time faculty position in the fall of 1987, an indication that the MSU School of Journalism sees scholastic journalism as truly important in today’s world.
PROGRAMS, SEMINARS & WORKSHOPS
MIPA began an on-campus summer camp in 1984 for students. The summer workshop, now run by Workshop Director Chad Sanders, hosts nearly 400 students on MSU’s campus for five days to learn about reporting, news design, yearbook, photojournalism, video journalism and multimedia storytelling.
In October 1985, a one-day seminar was begun to offer help to advisers and in September 1987, members attended MIPA’s first fall conference. Advisers believed learning sessions were more practical and valuable in the fall than in the spring. The spring conference continued to include a keynote speaker, the Student Journalist program, on-site contests and the awards ceremony. In partnership with MSU, MIPA also began offering classes and workshops specifically for teachers.
In 2005, MIPA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and in 2007 renewed its sponsorship agreement with MSU, securing its place in the MSU School of Journalism.
In May 2012, Pell retired and was succeeded by Jeremy Steele as MIPA’s executive director.
Membership for the 2013-14 academic year included 135 schools, representing 185 advisers, 96 newspapers, 84 yearbooks, 38 video programs and 27 news websites.
The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association is a nonprofit organization composed of Michigan scholastic journalism teachers and publications advisers and their students.
The organization is committed to promoting and recognizing excellence in journalism at all levels through education, training and support of student journalists and their advisers.
MIPA supports First Amendment rights of student journalists in Michigan and believes that exercising freedom of expression responsibly involves adhering to the highest standards of journalism. Therefore, students and advisers have an obligation to learn and practice the legal and ethical responsibilities expected of journalists. MIPA provides support through its contests, conferences and scheduled activities.