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April 11, 2024

Looking Back:
White Pine Press Celebrates 40 Years

Jacob Wheeler
Faculty adviser

This newspaper you hold in your hands (or are reading on our website, represents 40 years of hard work, ink-stained hands, late nights writing, friendships formed, and devotion to cover important topics that affect our NMC community.


Following the demise of its predecessor, the Nor’Wester in the early 1960s, faculty adviser Marilyn Jaquish guided the resurrection of campus journalism, and the White Pine Press was born during the 1983-84 school year. According to the book Northwestern Michigan College: The Second Twenty Years, the paper quickly became a standard campus feature, regularly winning awards at college journalism conferences. Some things don’t change much. Our team continues to win awards today: we won 15 awards (including 5 for first place) at the Michigan Community College Press Association ceremony at Central Michigan University on April 6.


Some things change a lot: In 1983, the year Jaquish and her team launched the White Pine Press, the Challenger space shuttle made a successful voyage with the first American woman astronaut aboard; gas generally cost $1 per gallon; crack cocaine was developed in the Bahamas; Return of the Jedi was the number one grossing film at the box office, and “Every Breath You Take” by the Police—on brand-new compact discs—hit number one on the charts.


These days, the Mars Rover transmits images to Earth from that faraway and exotic planet, and everyone with an iPhone or tablet can view them at home; we talk about reaching peak oil in our lifetime; Fentanyl is the drug killer; Barbie was the top grossing film of 2023, and Taylor Swift and her music dominate streaming platforms.


“The White Pine Press started out of a filing cabinet kept in a hallway in what is now Scholars Hall [back when] we had no computers,” Jaquish told the newspaper staff in 2008 for the 25th-anniversary edition. She remained as faculty adviser until 2004. “A group of students with quite a force on campus had come to me wanting to start a newspaper, [despite the fact that] no one had real journalism experience.” One of these students was then Student Government Association president and NMC Magazine writer Jimi Lee Haswell—a young woman whom Jaquish described as “six feet tall and very persuasive”—who became the founder and first Editor-in-Chief of the White Pine Press.


Haswell’s late mother, Lois Golightly, a rabble-rouser who brought Judy Chicago’s boundary-pushing exhibit “Birth Project” to NMC’s campus in 1986, was a regular columnist in the early years of the White Pine Press. Golightly’s column, “The Feminist Forum” ran from December 1983 to January 1986, and provided an expression of women’s concerns worldwide. We covered Golightly’s impact on Traverse City in a December 2021 story.


Slowly but surely, technology came to the newsroom. The White Pine Press got its first Macintosh computers in 1986. Initially a monthly newspaper in its first year, the White Pine Press increased to a bi-weekly schedule through the ‘80s and ‘90s. The student-run newspaper even published weekly for several years when NMC’s enrollment soared following the economic recession of 2008-09. Between 2013-2019 we published six or seven times each semester, and have settled on five editions each semester since the pandemic.


Through it all, our catchy motto, “We hew to the line; let the chips fall where they may” has stuck. “I have always loved that idea that we journalists do what is right and necessary—come what may,” said 1994-95 News Editor Annie Heitjan. Jaquish remembered the original newspaper staff had a contest to decide on the motto. “We urged a lot of people—faculty included—to give us slogan ideas. I just remember by consensus that that one best expressed what we wanted to happen with this publication.”


Four decades later, the motto remains in the masthead of the paper you’re holding.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Gaither

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