The Daily: Looking good at 109

From a small operation out of Old Main to a 20,000 circulation paper, The Minnesota Daily has seen a lot.

On the first floor of 2221 University Ave., there is a small, ordinary, windowless room with a scattering of binders. Some lay on desks, others on a shelf, still others stowed away in boxes. The musty smell of old paper permeates the space. This is where The Minnesota DailyâÄôs history lives, filed away in volume after volume of archives. If one looks hard enough, they can find a faded red binder, with the inscription âÄú1-2âÄù on the spine. On the very inside of this volume is a badly tattered, yellowing piece of paper. It is dated May 1, 1900, and it is the first edition of the Daily. One hundred and nine years ago, this paper would have cost 3 cents. On the cover, thereâÄôs a spattering of announcements, including the 1900 honor roll for the College of Science, Literature and the Arts. Along the left side runs a baseball story, complete with a box score and analysis (âÄúThe fielding was snappy, Hurley making some fine throwsâÄù the reporter wrote). The Gophers beat St. Olaf 27-1 , which surely would have made Honus Wagner proud. This paper came together at the Old Main Building of campus, which, four years later, burned to the ground. If students wanted to keep getting the Daily, they could subscribe for $2 a school year. Unlike today, where the Daily is free on newsstands and students help support it through University Student Service Fees, the original Daily operated directly from student support. In fact, early advertisements in the paper criticized those who paid for the paper but then left it on the ground âÄî because other students were picking them up and getting their news for free. By May 3, 1900, those at the Daily expressed their frustration as follows: âÄúAlready, almost at the beginning of the first hour, or at least as soon as students have read them through, copies of the Daily are found scattered on the floor or campus, where they have been thrown by some thoughtless student,âÄù read a brief statement by the staff. After noting that leaving papers around gave campus a âÄúvery untidy appearance,âÄù staffers went on to write that many students know they can get news for free and simply looked for a loose copy. TodayâÄôs Daily staff is probably less concerned about paper sharing. The first four years of the paper came and went at Old Main. Then, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 1904, the DailyâÄôs home burned to the ground âÄî an event that led to one of the proudest publications for Daily reporters ever. The Old Main building caught fire at 5 a.m. that Saturday. Daily staff responded by using a YWCA as a temporary office. By 1:30 p.m., the âÄúFire ExtraâÄù went to press. By 3 p.m., copies were being distributed across campus. The Extra detailed the fire from multiple angles: One story covered the fireâÄôs destruction, another a narrow escape from the building. Departmental accounts followed, as well as this account about the Daily: âÄúThe Minnesota Daily office is gutted but the desks with their content are unhurt save by water. The old files of the Daily and Ariel [a predecessor to the Daily], together with pictures of former boards are of course lost.âÄù The Fire Extra won high praise, and the Daily didnâÄôt miss a beat with publication. However, with the office in such condition, the Daily had to find a new home. After a stay in the YWCA, the Daily moved to the campus library shortly thereafter. Following the Fire Extra, the Daily made another change: The size of the paper grew. On October 4, 1904, the Daily unveiled a wider, longer, five-column paper (as opposed to a previous four-column format). Staff listed a number of items that the extra space would allow, including more âÄúsociety news,âÄù a regular editorial section and the ability to âÄúcontinue to crack the âÄòWhip.âÄô âÄú The Daily adjusted to the format, and soon there were more ads inside and longer content on the front. Every now and then, a photo adorned the cover, often a portrait of an athletic team. Athletic events were popular Front Page stories, and they were often covered in the most grandiose fashion, painting the athletes as courageous Roman warriors doing battle. By 1914, the paper made another format change. The publication of an eight-page newspaper was called âÄúthe largest single extension ever undertaken in the history of the campus newspaperâÄù in a staff write-up. Noting that the change was necessary because of an increasing number of stories to cover and an increasing need for new advertisements, the staff urged more students to subscribe âÄî the goal was to get 1,500 to 2,000 subscribers (up from about 1,000 to 1,100). By this time, the Daily had also found a new home âÄî Folwell Hall. Though the paper by and large remained a source of campus announcements and notices, the extra room allowed for the Daily to experiment: An âÄúAthleticsâÄù section appeared, âÄúSocietyâÄù gave a quick rundown of campus events and âÄúThe Cheshire CatâÄù provided a space for some random rumblings and musings âÄî perhaps a precursor to the beloved Network? This was also a few years before America joined World War I, and reporters occasionally covered war-related stories, such as a professor who traveled to Russia at the beginning of the war and University cadets organized a campus parade . Fast forward to 1941, and the Daily found itself again covering a warâÄôs impact on college life. Even before America joined World War II, stories tied to the war appeared, like a Dec. 3, 1941, article on how national defense had invaded University classrooms, or a brief later in that paper detailing an upcoming showing of âÄúNight TrainâÄù âÄî a film on âÄúcunning Nazi methods.âÄù However, after the Pearl Harbor attack , the DailyâÄôs next issue (Dec. 9, 1941) was dedicated almost entirely to war stories: There were student reactions, announcements of war lectures, coverage of recent graduates stationed abroad and an emotional account of those gathered at Northrop Auditorium to listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt address the nation. Like the rest of the country, the Daily carried on into the next decade. By 1950, the Daily was in its 10th year in its new digs âÄî Murphy Hall, the journalism building built in 1940. (Today, what was the DailyâÄôs office is now the Eric Sevareid Library, named after the famous CBS correspondent and former Daily staffer.) The Daily was also celebrating its 50th birthday, putting out a special âÄúGolden Anniversary Issue.âÄù The issue featured reprints of past Daily extras and the original May 1, 1900, front page. Photos from across the generations also were on display. The decade also saw the printing of another extra: âÄúBierman ResignsâÄù marked the end for head football coach Bernie Bierman , the storied figure who coached at the University from 1932 to 1950 (with two years spent away fighting in World War II) and racked up five national championships. Thirteen years later, the Daily ran another extra, this time covering the biggest national story of its time: âÄúKennedy AssassinatedâÄù was distributed on Nov. 22, 1963, across campus. The top story led with the simple line: âÄúPresident Kennedy is dead.âÄù Student reaction was collected from across campus. A notice informed fans that the next dayâÄôs Gophers-Badgers football game would be cancelled. The top-of-the-page photo featured Kennedy and Sen. Hubert Humphrey. Following the assassination of the president, the âÄô60s and early âÄô70s were marked by controversy surrounding the Vietnam War. The University of Minnesota and the Daily found themselves in the middle of the tumultuous era, which was the case for colleges and college papers across the country. The editorial page was often home to anti-war sentiment, and in a June 15, 1970, issue, the Daily printed a letter to President Nixon from 13 Regents professors decrying the war. Also that year, the University Board of Regents accused the Daily of âÄúmassive tastelessnessâÄù and threatened to pull student fee support. A Daily editorial claimed that the regents were upset over the paperâÄôs opposition to the war. Then, on May 10, 1972, riots broke out on campus. The following dayâÄôs paper had a simple Front Page âÄî the headline read, âÄúPolice battle students on campus,âÄù and below that ran three photos depicting a student getting beaten on the Northrop Mall by a group of officers. The coverage was extensive: Inside, the Daily gave a chronological breakdown of the dayâÄôs events, including a noon protest at Northrop, a raid at the Armory, protesters blocking off Washington Avenue and the National Guard being called in. Other stories detailed the Minnesota Student AssociationâÄôs request to shut down campus, faculty reaction to the destruction, a list of steps to take if you got tear gassed (which was not entirely rare as protesters clashed with police and guardsmen in the street) and a rundown of the âÄú32 arrested in campus action.âÄù Daily reporter Pat Darcy was detained by plainclothes officers. A May 16 article detailed his experience. Darcy was sent to Washington Avenue at 5 a.m. on May 12 by editor Nick Coleman, now a reporter at the Star Tribune. Darcy was to report via walky-talky on police efforts to remove a barricade that was in place there. The officers soon approached Darcy. âÄúOne grabbed me from behind and put his hand over my mouth,âÄù he said. Darcy, who stood a mere 5 feet 5 inches and weighed 115 pounds, had his walky-talky and reporterâÄôs notebook taken away. He was then put into a squad car and driven around for about 10 to 15 minutes. He was eventually dropped off at Oak Street and Washington Avenue with instructions âÄúnot to go near the demonstration.âÄù âÄúI think the police stole my property and prevented me from covering the demonstration,âÄù Darcy said. The 1970s would be capped off by another memorable and controversial edition âÄî the âÄúChrist SpeaksâÄù humor issue . Akin to todayâÄôs finals issues, the June 1979 special depicted Jesus Christ on the Northrop Mall addressing students. Not surprisingly, the parody caused quite a stir, and University President C. Peter Magrath proposed that students could withhold service fees from the paper if they so chose. The case went to court, working its way all the way up to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that such an action would violate the paperâÄôs First Amendment rights because of a chilling effect. The 1980s saw further disputes and controversies. The Daily and the University met in court during the 1987-88 school year over whether a 900-page report detailing rules violations coming from the menâÄôs basketball team should be made public. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that it should. 1988 also marked another Daily Extra, this time detailing the resignation of University President Ken Keller. A March 14, 1988, issue, which came out during finals week, detailed the presidentâÄôs resignation following controversy over high costs and no oversight of renovation at the UniversityâÄôs presidential estate, Eastcliff. The Daily was instrumental in following the Eastcliff controversy as it progressed. Following KellerâÄôs resignation, the Daily again sparred with the University in court, this time over access to meetings about who would be the next president. The University won the case at both the trial and appellate level âÄî the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The late 1980s and early 1990s ushered in more change to the paper. Color was beginning to make its way onto the front page, via the masthead and photographs. By 1994, the Daily was one of the first collegiate papers to publish to the Internet. Fifteen years later, has evolved to feature photo slideshows, videos, polls, blogs and Twitter and Facebook applications âÄî surely quite a departure from the early Web. Later that decade, scandal again filled the front page, as it was discovered that the menâÄôs basketball team had been receiving illegal tutoring from Jan Gangelhoff, which included papers being written for players. The scandal erupted during spring break, and for the first issue back, March 29, 1999, the Daily did a profile on Gangelhoff after having visited her in her small hometown of Danbury, Wis. The scandal would cost the basketball program numerous recruits and some notable accomplishments âÄî like a trip to the 1997 Final Four âÄî were stricken from future record books. At the turn of the century, the Daily covered how the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, impacted campus. Classes were cancelled that Tuesday at noon. Some Minneapolis businesses closed, while the city entered a state of âÄúfull alert preparedness.âÄù An evening candlelight vigil was held at Northrop, where students were âÄúscared, frustrated, angry and disheartened; but above all else, they were together.âÄù On a warm summer evening six years later, tragedy struck much closer to home when the Interstate 35W bridge crossing the Mississippi River near 10th and University avenues collapsed into the river. Daily reporters and photographers were some of the first on the scene on Aug. 1, 2007. Some early photographs taken by Daily staff are still being used around the country. A week later, the Daily put together a special edition covering the disaster, which left 13 dead and hundreds injured. As the Daily reaches the end of another decade, it continues to change and evolve. This year, facing tough economic times, the Daily stopped publishing a Friday print edition. The Monday sports section and the Thursday A&E section were disbanded, bringing the two sections into the regular paper. However, as the print medium has faced its share of struggles, the online medium has expanded, with more content from more reporters. In 109 years, the Daily has transitioned from a small campus newsletter to a 20,000-circulation paper that employs around 170 students, operates on a roughly $2.4 million budget and draws Web traffic from around the metro, state, country and world. However, the mission of the paper remains pretty much unchanged from the one set forth on May 1, 1900: âÄúWe desire to make the Daily the medium through which the student body is kept informed of the sum of those events and happenings which go to make up University life. Our aim is to make the Daily so useful that the students cannot do without it. To this end we earnestly ask the co-operation of the faculty, the heads of all student enterprises, the managers and captains of all athletic teams, in fact of every one whose position enables him to speak authoritatively and accurately of the department or organization under his control. There is a natural advantage to this. In no other way can we hope to [attain] the purpose of this paper, in no other way can the student body be kept [in close] touch with University life or âĦ enlisted in University enterprises.âÄù âÄîMike Rose is the DailyâÄôs managing editor