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20 YEARS LATER, FORMER STATE NEWS REPORTERS REFLECT ON 9/11 COVERAGE
LOOKING BACK ON THE DAY By Mariam Hanna On Sept. 11, 2001, then-Editor-in-Chief of The State News Mary Sell woke up to get ready for her journalism ethics class at MSU. As part of her routine, she had CNN on in the background — but there was nothing routine about what would soon become that day’s programming. At 8:49 that morning, she watched as the first attack on the World Trade Center was broadcast on the network. Sell said she was shocked and confused, assuming this was some sort of horrific accident. As she got to class and became more aware of the situation, she knew she had to head to the newsroom. “I walked in, and we just said, ‘Alright we gotta get ready for this,’” Sell said. “‘We gotta tell people what’s going on.’... In those first hours, we didn’t know what we were looking at. But, it became apparent very soon that this was the biggest news event of our lives.” When she got to the newsroom, which was in the Student Services building at the time, then-opinion editor Jeremy Steele made his way over. “As was probably typical, I was running behind to go to whatever class I was supposed to be at in the morning,” Steele said. “I never got there because I heard what was on the radio and just diverted and went to The State News.” Steele, who is now an MSU professor, initiated coverage that morning — a job out of the ordinary for him. Steele sent a message telling everyone to come into the newsroom because a major story was happening. MSU alumnus Ed Ronco saw this message and started heading over, even though he technically was not a State News reporter that semester. “I got back to my dorm after I heard what had happened and saw an email from one of the editors saying, ‘Everybody come in right now,’” Ronco said. “I emailed and said, ‘I don’t really work for you, but do you need a hand,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, go ahead and come in.’ So, I spent the day as a reporter.” At this point, then-reporter Camille Knox was already on her way. She was in her dorm when the second tower was hit and instantly knew she had to be in the newsroom. She had experience with breaking news, but this was unique. “Normally with breaking news … we’re running around the newsroom like chickens with your head cut off, but this was a moment where we realized the gravity of this thing,” Knox said. “I think we all knew this is heavy, and this isn’t something that we were gonna get up tomorrow and shake off like we do a lot of other news stories. This thing is gonna have legs, and it’s gonna carry us through God knows how many more years.” Several State News workers had friends or family in New York and surrounding areas at the time, as did a number of MSU students and faculties. Sell’s best friend was working in downtown New York shortly following her graduation from MSU. She was the first person Sell thought of as she watched the towers go down and began to realize that this tragedy was no accident.
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SPOT L IG H T CONT. FROM COVER — Knox was in a similar situation. Her sister lived in New Jersey at the time, and her office overlooked the World Trade Center. Knox said she was having difficulty making contact with her sister, but eventually was able to confirm she was safe. “I just remember, all of us went out and did our thing on autopilot of, ‘OK, we need to report this story,’ and sort of having to put your feelings to bed for a moment and wake those up once you were home and once you were by yourself,” Knox said. “As personal as the story was, as reporters, we couldn’t really let that infiltrate the way that we covered the story.” Steele agreed. “It would be like any other first responder type of job,” Steele said. “Your training is to do whatever your job is — ask the questions, write the story, whatever it is — and then later, we sort of process the bigger picture.” Much of what The State News reporters did to cover 9/11 was man-on-the-street interviews, whether that was around campus or at specific venues. Then-reporter Eric Morath was assigned to go to talk to people at the Lansing airport.
“I was just hanging out by the luggage carousel, and I just talked to people that were getting off planes and people were (saying) that their flights were canceled,” Morath said. “I just remember people were in shock, and they didn’t know what was going on. We had no idea how bad it was going to get.” At Case Hall, Ronco reported as students gathered in the TV lounge. “I remember one kid freaking out,” Ronco said. “He started banging on the tables and screaming, ‘What is going on?’” Along with the job of writing stories for the next morning’s paper came the task of designing that paper. Then-graphic design editor Beth McCoy was in charge of this feat. “I’ve gone back and forth about this a lot in my career,” McCoy said. “Sometimes, I wish we had done a big photo poster front. I used to think that, but as I get older and see how the design has evolved … it sort of grew on me over the years, and I can see that we made the right call.” Many of these former reporters said they were proud of the final product they created in a time of devastation. Then-campus editor Nicole Geary said she has one regret in the cov-
erage, though — the angle of the xenophobia increase that occurred following 9/11. “Once we found out who the terrorists were and what part of the world they were from, we probably could have covered that angle more immediately, like talking to students who were maybe from countries in the Middle East,” Geary said. Although it was a challenge to report on a shocking event in a nation that had not faced such an attack in generations, Knox said it was a learning opportunity for reporters to get a more nuanced perspective. This aided her in her future career as a crime reporter. “It helped me approach people when I was working on stories,” Knox said. “I would say, ‘Hey, tell me about this person who you lost in this terrible incident. What is it about this person that you want people to remember? What’s something you’ll never forget? What is something you can tell me that made this person different and unique?’” Ronco said a talk Sell gave the staffers on the morning of 9/11 as what grounded them in the midst of all the chaos: “(She) called the whole staff together at some lull in the morning and said, ‘I hope this is the worst thing you
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“I think we all knew this is heavy, and this isn’t something that we were gonna get up tomorrow and shake off like we do a lot of other news stories. This thing is gonna have legs, and it’s gonna carry us through God knows how many more years.” Camille Knox
Former State News Reporter ever have to cover,’” Ronco said. “I just remember — I’m getting a little choked up thinking about this now — I just remember thinking what a lovely thing that was to do, what a smart thing that was to do, because she sort of reset The State News’ cover page from Sept. 12, 2001. STATE NEWS FILE us. She recalibrated all of us said. “The point at which every a little bit so that we weren’t cy after a mass tragedy. “I felt especially for the stu- routine was thrown away, and running around. We weren’t dents that I met there who it really amped up from being freaking out. Even though the week was were supposed to be having a for some people like a casusoon over, the story of 9/11 comparable college experience al hobby or a thing that they were interested in to a thing and everything around it was to my own,” Gumbrecht said. These former reporters, that they were obsessed with.” not. During winter break of the “I can’t believe it’s been 20 2001-2002 school year, Steele some of whom are now workasked then reporter-Jamie ing for major media networks, years,” Knox said. “It was such Gumbrecht to go to Ground cited covering a huge event a tragedy, but it was sort of an Zero in New York City with a like 9/11 as student jour- honor to have even been part volunteer group. She did not nalists as a turning point in of the coverage we did that day. Looking back on that, hesitate to take that opportu- their careers. “Everybody worked hard, I’m still in awe that it’s been nity. She quickly packed a bag and went to The State News, everybody was friendly, but that long.” where she got a quick photog- that really became the point raphy lesson before getting at which people were sleeping For the full article, visit sent away to a place that was overnight on the ancient couch just trying to return to normal- in the newsroom,” Gumbrecht statenews.com.
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MSU, we need direct answers The State News Editorial Board firstname.lastname@example.org Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The State News has kept a close eye on the university. We quickly reported on the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan in spring 2020 and covered the instant shift from in-person to virtual classes. We were ready and kept track when MSU announced at the end of May 2020 we’d be having an in-person fall 2020 semester. We understood when the plug was pulled and a vast majority of classes were shifted to an online format, days before students were set to move into their dorms. As students, we had our own questions — ones we always asked and sometimes they were answered. This time feels different. Roundabout answers aren’t new to us, but if there’s ever been a time we needed them to be direct, it’s now. A headline as simple as, “MSU is requiring vaccines, masks for students, faculty and staff,” suddenly feels complex. Students are returning to campus and so is COVID-19. Students are learning of potential exposures via confidential messages through the Office of the Registrar. Messages that make the next step for the student who tested positive and
those around them — vaccinated and unvaccinated — unclear. When some professors asked to hold classes virtually, their requests were denied by the provost’s office. When students said they were uncomfortable with being in person after an exposure, the university spokesperson said students should contact the professor for accommodations. There are apparent miscommunications within the university: if our professors and staff don’t know what protocol should be, how would the students? MSU talked a big game about making sure things are handled safely during the pandemic, but now that we’re at our most vulnerable state having people back in East Lansing, there is a lack of direct communication to the students, staff and faculty at the university. We understand this is a stressful time, but being open about plans and initiatives to keep people safe should be the priority. The miscommunication and lack of transparency has instilled fear in students. What if they don’t want to go back to the class one of their peers tested positive for COVID-19 in? How will they stay up to date on their in-person classes if in quarantine? Students should be able to
ask for accommodations in a situation in which they may feel unsafe after being exposed to a virus that led to 18 months of almost entirely virtual school. Most importantly, that should be clearly communicated. We understand nobody has all the answers to this continuously-changing pandemic, but as students who have adapted to everything it has thrown our way since March 2020, we are tired of feeling blindsided. MSU, we’re not only asking you to figure out how you want to protect students, staff and faculty best, but to be open and honest about whatever decisions you come to. There are some things people shouldn’t need to rely on us to know. The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, Managing Editor Jayna Bardahl, City Editor Griffin Wiles, Culture Editor Dina Kaur, Sports Editor Eli McKown, Multimedia Editors Lauren DeMay and Chandra Fleming, Copy Chief SaMya Overall, Social Media Manager Jillie Gretzinger and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Tessa Jazwinski. Campus Editor Wendy Guzman and Staff Rep. Morgan Womack did not sit in for this editorial.
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MORE THAN YOUR AV EAST LANSING MAY By Noah Edgar email@example.com Being the new mayor of East Lansing is just a sliver of Jessy Gregg. She is a business owner. She is an artist. She is a mother. When Aaron Stephens filled the role as mayor of East Lansing in July 2020, he asked Gregg to be his Mayor Pro Tem. A position she accepted so long as Stephens promised her he would not quit. So, when Stephens resigned from office almost exactly a year after assuming the position, Gregg said she was struck with stress as she was shoved into the role of mayor. She is the owner of two businesses: Seam’s Fabric, a sewing shop in downtown East Lansing, and Warrior Goddess Training Academy, an online fitness community. Gregg said she loves serving and inspiring the public. Her job as mayor and city council member requires a lot of her attention and energy. With the borderline nasty emails and other various responsibilities, city council is the trouble child of the rest of her current roles, she said. In order to understand how Gregg landed in local government in the small town of East Lansing, and what makes her your not-so-average politician, it is best to follow her steps in chronological order.
LIFE PRIOR TO POLITICS
In 2000, Gregg graduated from Hamline University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. At the same time, she worked at a costume shop as her
“I was a little bit lost, motherhood is a very overwhelming experience, just coming to terms with that fact that I had to think differently and have different priorities.” Jessy Gregg East Lansing Mayor
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work study — where her love of sewing was born. She worked as a professional artist, selling her wall art-style quilts at various street fairs. While she loved pursuing her interests as an artist, once she became a mother, Gregg could not sustain keeping up with both her kids and her life in the art studio. She had to make a choice. “I was a little bit lost,” Gregg said. “Motherhood is a very overwhelming experience, just coming to terms with the fact that I had to think differently and have different priorities.” After her third child was born, Gregg had a feeling that she needed to take her personal health in hand, as having three tiny humans that were dependent on her and attached at her hip proved to be a daunting task. “I needed to keep up with them and stay healthy to be a part of their life for as long as possible,” she said. Her physical fitness history prior to having kids was non-existent, so when she took up running for the first time, she found it to be a difficult yet freeing experience. She quick ly decided to sign up for a marathon and spontaneously started a Facebook group called Warrior Goddess Training Academy to help people find pace partners so they wouldn’t be lonely on runs. “I’m me, so I gave it a super badass name, which attracted a lot of attention,” Gregg said. With “inspirational” quotes like, “Sweat is your fat crying,” Gregg found the fitness community to be a toxic environment, especially for women. “You shouldn’t feel obliged to exercise out of some sort of sense of duty,” Gregg said. “You should feel inspired to exercise because you love your body and you want to take care of yourself.” According to her LinkedIn, the group is still active.
INTRO TO POLITICS
Gregg took her passion for helping other people with her into politics. Following former President Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, Gregg said she felt devastated. “I really felt like things had been at least drifting in an acceptable direction,” she said. Gregg said she had felt like she understood how government and politics work — so, Trump’s victory blindsided her. As a result, she jumped into political organizing in a way she had never done before. Her inspiration, passion and “cheerleading” personality allowed her to be an organizer within her circle as she continued to educate herself about
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Portrait of new Mayor of East Lansing Jessy Gregg. Shot on Aug. 22. Photo by Thomas Ruth
the political process. Gregg said she decided the easiest way for her to get involved would be to get local. Gregg signed up for E-boards and was on the England County Parks and Recreation Board for a couple of years. Later, she joined the East Lansing Arts Commission and attended city council meetings, which she also reported on for East Lansing Info. Similar to how she decided to run a marathon shortly after getting into it, Gregg said she was pushed to run for city council to succeed former council member Shanna Draheim. “(Draheim) and Sen. Sam Singh pushed me out the door and became my organizing team for my campaign, and so here I am,” Gregg said.
Despite the fact that Gregg’s shop Seam’s Fabric just opened six months prior to the election, getting the green light to run for council was an opportunity Gregg had to attack and make the best of. On Nov. 5, 2019, Gregg received the most votes of all six candidates, securing herself a spot on the city council.
THRUST INTO LEADERSHIP
In March 2020, just four months after Gregg was elected to city council, an accusation of excessive police force arose in the community. Two months after the accusations surfaced, George Floyd’s murder brought more attention to nationwide protests regarding police procedure and
S POT L I G H T
AVERAGE POLITICIAN: YOR JESSY GREGG
East Lansing Mayor Jessy Gregg sits outside Seams fabric store on Aug. 31. Photo by Rahmya Trewern
inequity. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic had just swept the nation — a problem the council, as well as the world, is still working on. As if police reform and a pandemic were not enough to tackle at once, on July 14, 2020, then-Mayor Ruth Beier and Councilmember Mark Meadows resigned mid-meeting, putting Gregg and a 23-year-old Stephens in the hot seat. Stephens took over as mayor, and Gregg as pro tem. Gregg said this period was “the most stressful three months of my life.” Just as things appeared to settle down, Stephens dropped the bomb
on Gregg that he would be going to Harvard to pursue his master’s degree and that Gregg would have to step up as mayor until the next election. Even if she loses her mayoral bid, Gregg still has two more years to serve as a city council member. Gregg said she takes pride in herself and her council as they stray f rom t he t y pical council image. Being an unusual group of public servants during this unusual time has received positive feedback from the community. Gregg’s skin is getting thicker as she becomes increasingly more comfortable with trusting herself when making decisions.
“You can do whatever you want, but do it genuinely and with truth and service in your heart, and you’ll be okay.” Jessy Gregg
“You can do whatever you want, but do it genuinely and with truth and service in your heart, and you’ll be okay,” Gregg said. “Taking care of yourself and really understanding that you cannot continue if you are not well and doing what you need to do to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy,” Gregg said. “Just look yourself in the mirror, be honest with yourself, tell yourself that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Be confident in your own judgement, and as long as you’re true to yourself, then you’ll be doing the right thing.”
East Lansing Mayor
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‘SHE’S HERE FOR A REASON’: AVA COOK BRINGS WORK ETHIC, CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE TO MSU WOMEN’S SOCCER By Sean Reider firstname.lastname@example.org The former All-American fought between defenders, speeding up on her way to the goal before recognizing the pass coming her way from junior forward Lauren DeBeau. Meeting the cross, she swung her left leg into the ball, knocking it up for a clean, slow bounce into the net. Goal, 1-0 MSU. Not the prettiest. Not the most graceful. But it’s one fifth-year forward Ava Cook worked hard for, a key part of her philosophy as a player. “My biggest thing every time I step on the field is just to work as hard as I possibly can,” Cook said. “Because at the end of the day, like if you can’t control that … you can always control your effort. That’s kind of something I hope others see and do the same as most of us are doing right now.” Cook’s team-leading third goal of the season in the team’s 1-1 draw against FAU on Aug. 31 was hardly a new sensation; the Grand Valley State University, or GVSU, transfer led Division II women’s soccer with 29 goals and 70 points as a junior in 2019, leading the Lakers to their sixth national championship. A f ter her senior season was initially canceled and moved to the spring of 2021 due to COVID-19, she put her name in the
transfer portal and followed former GVSU coach Jeff Hosler to Michigan State. It’s a new school, new pitch and a new division, yet, it’s also a perfect reunion between two of the former top names in Division II women’s soccer as they take the next steps in their careers. Hosler smiled when asked about the player he’s worked and won with for the past four years. “I mean, I love that kid,” Hosler said. “She’s here for a reason.” While Cook played four years on the varsity soccer team at Lakeview High School and earned third-team All-State honors as a senior, Hosler said the Battle Creek native received no offers from other schools and started her collegiate soccer career as “essentially” a walk-on at GVSU. The hardworking and humble qualities he saw in her would soon provide a vital strength to an already dominant program. “She truly checks her ego at the door, if she ever has one to begin with,” Hosler said. “She’s just a winner. … She always finds a way to dig a little bit deeper.” Hosler noted that those qualities played a key role in the two national championship appearances at GVSU as Cook earned Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors and two unanimous All-American selections in her
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Both teams ran out the clock of the second overtime trying to break the tie from the first half of the game. After 110 minutes, the MSU women’s soccer team ended their match against Florida Atlantic University 1-1 on Aug. 30. Photo by Chloe Trofatter
junior and senior years. If that’s not enough, Cook’s play warranted her a legendary, Michael Jordan-esque status within the program. “At Grand Valley, at least, there was a mythical lore about Ava, where there was this version called ‘Postseason Ava’ that just kind of came out and would just take over games,” Hosler said. “She’s shown some of that at various moments here.” Cook said she wanted to pursue a fourth
“The girls could not be any more welcoming to me, which makes it so much easier for me to just come out and feel good and play good.” Ava Cook Fifth year forward
year following 2020’s abbreviated spring season and the NCA A granting an extra year of eligibility for athletes affected by the pandemic. According to a June 25 article from the Battle Creek Enquirer, Cook has aspirations to play professionally. With Hosler making the move, MSU became the right spot. “Ava accomplished pretty much everything you can expect to in Division II,” Hosler said. “I think she was looking for an opportunity to expand her horizons, be challenged in a different way.” As a Spartan, she’s working to bring some of the same magic she created on the pitch at GVSU to East Lansing. Of course, not before she thanks her teammates. Cook credited their warm embrace for her recent run of form. “The girls could not be any more welcoming to me, which makes it so much easier for me to just come out and feel good and play good,” Cook said. “Michigan State’s an awesome program, so I’m just super blessed to be a part of it.” Hosler isn’t the only one praising Cook’s impact on the program. DeBeau, one of Cook’s fellow forwards, said Cook is a “born leader” and downplayed the notion of her struggling with the adjustment from Division II to Division I. “There’s no difference,” DeBeau said. “She plays the same way. ... I’m sad I only have her for one semester, but I’m keeping her as long as I can.” As Cook casts aside any doubts about her abilities as a player, Hosler believes she’s starting to settle into the group and develop the chemistry necessary for the Spartans to take the next step this season. He said that MSU isn’t a “one-trick pony” with Cook on the line, but added her offensive abilities have greatly improved the team. “The kid’s a baller,” Hosler said. “She was on for 90-plus minutes today ... really as our primary target through a lot of the run. She just keeps going.” A fresh season and an unblemished record have brought life into a program that finished 1-10-1 in the spring. For Cook, it’s an opportunity to become a legend somewhere new. Anything else she’d like to add? “Go Green,” Cook said. Fitting in well.
CULT U R E
How Curious Book Shop lasted through the advent of the internet and COVID-19 By Alex Faber email@example.com Nestled between the various eateries, bars and clothing stores on Grand River Avenue is a local business that has managed to keep its doors open for over 50 years: Curious Book Shop.
Owner Ray Walsh was a student when he began selling books out of his garage in 1969. Two years later, Walsh graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in communications. After a couple of years in his garage and a couple more in the basement of the old Paramount News Center, Walsh and Curious Book Shop found a permanent home at 307 E. Grand River Ave. in 1973.
When the internet started picking up steam in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, online shopping sites like Amazon and eBay began to change the way books were bought. “It was increased competition,” Walsh said. “Certainly, it has changed the book market because many prices have gone downward as people realize how many copies there are of these books available throughout the country.
On the other hand, some of the very nice books — the exceptional books by Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, first editions and jackets — have gone up significantly.” As the book market shifted, Curious Book Shop adapted. Walsh started using mailorder services, Amazon and other online book databases to keep up with the competition. The shop’s Etsy site is a large portion of the online revenue. With over 600 items listed, the profile makes sales daily.
Curious Book Shop managed to adapt and thrive during the age of the internet, but COVID-19 presented a unique threat. Waves of closures shut down non-essential businesses at the end of March 2020, forcing most brickand-mortar stores to temporarily close. But Walsh’s employees weren’t ready to give up. They devised a plan: A GoFundMe fundraiser. “When we had the campaign, I never thought I would do something like that,” Walsh said. “But my employees suggested it, and I said, ‘OK.’ We set a goal that was not realistic. But we thought why not try it and see what happens.” Typically, a contributor to a campaign on GoFundMe receives an email offering thanks. Curious Book Shop did things differently.
Curious Book Shop shot on Sept. 1. Photo by Lauren Snyder
If a contribution was over 10 dollars, the shop offered a handful of random books from the contributor’s preferred genre. The store’s campaign began to gain traction, eventually receiving a mention in a Buzzfeed article about bookstores running similar campaigns across the nation. Curious Book Shop was one of 35 stores mentioned in the article, which resulted in donations and contacts from alumni and former customers across the nation. The local and national community has raised nearly $30,000 for Curious Book Shop’s GoFundMe campaign. “We really appreciate the community support and I’m fortunate to have a staff that works hard and does a good job in getting this type of thing done,” Walsh said. “Nobody expected anything quite like this.”
STILL THRIVING 50 YEARS IN
Curious Book Shop continues to be a local favorite, especially among Michigan State’s incoming and returning students. “I think part of it is the character of the shop,” Abigail Rhoades, a new employee and customer of Curious Book Shop, said. “It’s very eccentric, it’s a little cluttered, but that’s what gives it its charm.” consistently. There is a constant stream of new reads, as Walsh buys collections and receives donations morning.” “Our inventory is increasing,” Walsh said. “Sometimes, when I turn out the lights at night, there are more books there in the With the amount of new inventory available through collections and donations, Walsh said he likes to be a bit selective with the books he acquires, focusing on a few genres that seem to resonate with the students. Agriculture, physics and other subjects popular with the university are often in stock.
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