Breaking news from Minnesota colleges, by two student reporters

INTERVIEWER: I love talking to young journalists on the Minnesota college campus. I think they are doing a great job covering their college communities. It is not easy.

Today I’m talking to Maya Marchel Hoff and Isabelle Hopewell. Maya is an administrative reporter for The Minnesota Daily on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Isabelle Hopewell is the Editor-in-Chief of The Bark at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I’m so happy you’re both with us. Maya and Isabelle, Happy New Year.



INTERVIEWER: Thank you for being with us. Congratulations, you both did a very good job. So, Isabelle, I’ll start with you. Tell me about a recent big story.

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: Well, it was two. One was the Teamsters Union 320 strike, which covered the entire campus of the Minnesota system. I have covered two stories for this.

And one was a little more immediate story when they first came out– some information about the strike. And then one was more of a “what you need to know” type article. And that was really interesting because it came out in our print edition.

So we had no real information about it [CHUCKLES] what would happen in the weeks after the talks with the university system. So somehow I had to write what I knew and do it in time. But I think it still worked. And then another story was all about our new interim chancellor.

INTERVIEWER: That’s right. And for people unfamiliar with that story, that was a big story on your campus. Who is he? And what happened?

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: David McMillan. After an unsuccessful search for a new chancellor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, McMillan came in. And I think he did a great job. And I interviewed him and wrote a little article about him.

INTERVIEWER: Maya, I assume the strike that is – now of course there is an agreement. There was a new contract agreement. That must have been the big story on campus too.

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Yes. That was one of the great stories. I have not reported much on this subject. But I mean it was nice [CHUCKLES] reportable year on campus. And that was definitely a big deal, including the Board of Regents voting on that treaty.

INTERVIEWER: Right. What were some of the big stories you covered?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Yeah, so I’ve got the Board of Regents covered. And so one of my biggest stories was the selection process for Regents in the Minnesota Legislature and the PAC’s involvement in it. And then I also covered Regent Sviggum and how his comments at a Board of Regents meeting impacted the university system and the university community in general.

INTERVIEWER: What did you learn about this story from the feedback you received from staff and students?

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MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Yes, well I didn’t get any direct feedback. But when I go to the PAC story, I only got feedback from community members either [CHUCKLES] who actually pay attention to what’s going on in the Council of Regency process and the electoral process just because it’s not a super well-known process. It’s kind of complicated and long.

And so I’ve heard more people talk about the selection process than I think they usually do, which is nice. Because I think a lot of eyes have been on the board this semester, especially after Sviggum’s comments and recent President Gabel’s position on the Securian board.

INTERVIEWER: Right. In fact, just this morning we had the opportunity to speak with DFL Senator John Marty on MPR about a letter he sent to President Gabel asking her to step down from Securian’s CFO. Not sure what will happen to it.

However, he mentioned that there could be legislative action in this regard. That’s another big story. What do you two see here in your crystal balls, [CHUCKLES] Isabelle, when it comes to maybe some of the big stories you could cover on campus this spring semester?

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: I think, yes, a lot of the turnover is in terms of some faculty members from different departments, that’s a lot of people retiring and how the university is handling that. I think this is going to be a big story. But yeah, I guess I’m not so sure about that yet.

INTERVIEWER: Really? So you, or at least the school, expect a lot of retirements. Will that be a problem when it comes to teaching?

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: At least in the theater department, I know there are some retirements. And yes, this will likely affect many classes. So we’ll see how that goes.

INTERVIEWER: OK. Maya, what do you think could make big news?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Well I mean hopefully people will do that [CHUCKLES] can pay attention to the election of regents because there are four seats. And one of them is the current chairman, Regent Powell. I think a lot of eyes will be on it.

A lot has happened in terms of campus pay, whether it was student wages or union increases. And I think that’s been a topic that’s been on everyone’s lips for a while.

I think a number of other groups on campus will also fight for more raises, including graduate students, who I’ve covered a bit about, where they’re looking for better pay — a raise. And especially other faculty members who are not official faculty members, such as P&A staff. So that’s going to be interesting too.

INTERVIEWER: What is your salary at the moment? You know?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: For doctoral students, they are limited to 20 hours in many departments. And so I think that the minimum – maybe that’s not a correct number. But it’s somewhere around $16,000 or $17,000.

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And they’re technically part-time. But in the hours they put in, it’s full time. And it’s hard for them to have other jobs. And they often live on it for a year. And the wages unions pay do not match the cost of living in the cities, especially now during inflation.

INTERVIEWER: So that’s going to be a story that moves forward. So I’m curious where you two sit, how would you rate the health of the campus media? They both work for online publications. Of course, at UMD you have a real paper version. Is that right, Isabel?

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: Yes, we do. I would say that our print edition is much more popular than our online publication. We have a newsletter. But yes, I would say that the printed version is more effective in reaching the student body. I know some people don’t even know we have an online publication. But our pressure gets quite a bit of traction.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think The Bark is pretty sane as a news outlet?

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: I think we’re small. And we are a small organization. So we’re still trying to just make bigger spaces and more connections on campus. But we are small but mighty. I think we’re doing a really good job.

And I’m really proud of the stories we’ve covered. I think the past semester has been really successful in covering the student body climate, more so than in previous years when we might have had a little less, just, support from different places on campus.

INTERVIEWER: Maya, I know some people were a little disappointed when they realized that The Daily was no longer a print edition. That was done pretty quietly I think. I don’t want to embarrass you. But how is The Minnesota Daily’s health these days?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Very interesting subjects. When the pandemic struck, all of The Daily’s work went remote, and since then, honestly, I believe The Daily –


INTERVIEWER: Oh my goodness. I think you’re… oh wait, Maya. We’ll call you back here. It looks like you’re about to break up with us here, which means the technology here sometimes doesn’t work as well as it should.

So Maya Marchel Hoff is with us, along with Isabelle Hopewell. And both are student reporters. By the way, Maya is with The Minnesota Daily. We spoke to her. And Isabelle Hopewell was with us too. She is Editor-in-Chief of The Bark at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

We’re trying to get Maya back on the phone here. We’ll see if this actually happens. Isabelle, sorry to keep you waiting while we try to reach Maya here. [CHUCKLES]

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: You’re fine. Do not worry.

INTERVIEWER: So we’re still trying to call Maya here. So, Isabelle, are you planning to make journalism your career?

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ISABELLE HOPEWELL: Well, I’m kind of in a transition right now. I’ll graduate in the spring, so in May. Also, I’m a double major in the theater department. And actually I finished my entire journalism degree last spring. I did an internship. Oh, I think she might be back. I hear–

INTERVIEWER: Maya, are you with us?

CREW: One second, okay?

INTERVIEWER: Oh, okay. Maya, are you with us?


INTERVIEWER: Hello Maya. We’re sorry. No, no, no, it’s our fault. It’s our technology. I was just asking you about the move. They talked about going digital, going online for The Daily during the pandemic. And we pick it up there. What’s the matter?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Yeah, so hearing about The Bark on UMD is kind of interesting because we kind of see the opposite [INAUDIBLE]. So right now we’re not printing like we used to, which made former members of The Daily or people who used to be in the media kind of sad that we’re not printing, which, I mean, yeah, The Daily has been for over 100 years. And that was an important part of our legacy.

But even if we print special editions, [CHUCKLES] people pick them up. But they kind of get dusty. And I think that our digital presence and online presence is our greatest strength because a newsletter is sent to every student and faculty inbox every day if they request it. And that’s just a really easy way for people, especially students, to get involved because obviously we’re more digital and more physical.

And so I think we’ve seen a lot of commitment to that. And I think rumors of The Daily being quietly lost are pretty much just rumours. The Daily is stronger than ever.

INTERVIEWER: Maya, thank you for that. By the way, Maya, are you graduating soon?


INTERVIEWER: And you will work in journalism?

MAYA MARCHEL HOFF: Yes, I hope so. That is the goal. [CHUCKLES]

INTERVIEWER: Okay, fine. We were just talking to Isabelle when we were trying to get you back on the phone. And she makes a small change. Before you go, Isabelle, please tell people what you’re up to.

ISABELLE HOPEWELL: [CHUCKLES] Well I don’t really know. I have one… we’ll see. [CHUCKLES] Things are still going. But I hope to return to Minneapolis.

INTERVIEWER: All right. both of you are great Thank you for doing this. I appreciate your time. Both are excellent journalists. And good luck to you further.



INTERVIEWER: Maya Marchel Hoff was with us. She’s with The Minnesota Daily. Isabelle Hopewell is with us too. She is at the University of Minnesota Duluth at The Bark.