Sports coverage, greek system dominate Daily in 1930s

Fabiana Torreao

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a 10-part series of stories highlighting each decade of the 20th century and how The Minnesota Daily covered them. The series will appear on Wednesdays leading up to the Daily’s 100th anniversary on May 1, 2000, and culminate with a special edition. We hope you enjoy this trip through time.

In 1938, University student and budding photographer Darrell Brady ventured to Europe to photograph the Isle of Guernsey for a Minneapolis dairy farm.
The job started innocently enough, until when crossing through various countries, Brady found himself arrested twice by border guards for espionage.
“In France, I was arrested as a German spy, and in Germany I was arrested for being a French spy, all because of the pictures I took of cows,” Brady told Daily staff reporter Patricia Bronte in a bylined 1939 story that appeared on the front page of The Minnesota Daily.
The account of Brady’s adventure was one of many articles that reflected the Daily’s goal to give a local flavor to the events in Europe throughout the 1930s.
Although the Daily did try to provide some semblance of balance in covering the events leading up to World War II, sports coverage and the actions of fraternity and sorority members dominated the Daily’s news holes during that decade.
Throughout the latter part of the 1930s, the Daily’s pages often consisted of commentary from University officials about recent events in Europe or about local protests. In its coverage, the Daily published a variety of viewpoints, such as the proliferation of U.S. power and pacifism.
“National respect is obtainable only so long as we possess the power to enforce that respect,” said Lt. Col. Adam Potts in a January 1938 frontpage article about increasing weapons production to improve diplomacy.
However, by the following year, any concern about the U.S. strength was discounted as many didn’t see a potential for war.
When Germany moved 1 million troops to the Polish border in August 1938, Daily coverage included experts at the University who thought the troop movements were military maneuvers typical of many major powers during the late summer.
Germany invaded Poland a year later.
In preparation for World War I, the Daily advocated the U.S. entrance into the Great War while the University made military drills mandatory. Every physically fit male had to participate in military drills, or face suspension.
However, in the years before World War II, the attitude toward the drills changed, which became a hot issue by the middle of the 1930s.
Former Daily columnist and CBS correspondent Eric Sevareid, then going by his first name Arnold, wrote editorials in his column — “Bubbles Off the Beaker” — condemning drills because he believed participation in the drills should be left to individual choice.
In June 1934, the Daily published an Extra when the regents ended mandatory military drills in a surprise vote that wasn’t covered by any other media. Sevareid wrote the one-page extra published on graduation day that year.
The military drill issue gained so much coverage that other issues and views might have been missed. After the extra, the editors of the Daily decided to change their editorial policy and cover a wider range of views and issues.
In April, 1939, the Daily devoted several weeks of coverage to an assembly of 40 student groups protesting any U.S. involvement in any fighting in Europe.
The demonstrators had a list of goals published in the Daily that included uniting all people against war, raising support for a world conference for disarmament, and organizing a day-by-day fight to keep America out of the war.

At play, on the field and off
Sports filled so much of the Daily that it could almost be considered a separate publication appearing within its pages. The sports section would often have headlines larger than the news headlines, and about half of the space in the Daily would be devoted to sports — sometimes taking more prominence than any news.
On Oct. 10 1931, then University president Lotus Coffman embarked on a five-month journey to Australia, the Philippines and “the orient” to discuss educational policy. The president’s departure took a second seat while the Daily hyped an impending