Daily Trojan: one hundred years young
The staff of the Daily Trojan had decided it was time for an intervention. Signs plastered on computer monitors and television screens and tacked along doorframes all screamed the same message — “Sean, go home!”
In the days leading up to the student newspaper’s 100th-anniversary edition, Sean Fitz-Gerald took part in a long-standing tradition practiced by many editors-in-chief before him: Long hours spent putting the paper “to bed” meant a few hours of sleep on a well-worn newsroom couch.
“That tradition has not died,” said Fitz-Gerald, recounting tales of Los Angeles Times Assistant National Editor Steve Padilla, who as the Daily Trojan’s editor-in-chief in 1982, would still be working as the sun rose in the morning.
The Daily Trojan — fondly known as the “DT” — celebrated its historic past in a special edition on Sept. 20, with plans to continue the fete throughout the year by publishing archived stories from the past century. In addition, working with the USC Libraries, the DT will launch a digital collection of issues online, slated for completion next month.
Originally published as The Daily Southern Californian in 1912 — a student named W. R. “Ralph” La Porte convinced then-USC President George Finley Bovard that the USC student body was ready for a daily newspaper — the DT today has cemented its place as one of USC’s principal sources of campus news and information.
Written, edited and managed by USC students, the DT boasts about 150 student editors and staff, who, between classes, work and other activities during the school year, manage to churn out an issue five times a week.
“One hundred years — it’s such a big thing. A lot of us in this newsroom are 20 years old. I think a lot of us just want to do it justice,” Fitz-Gerald said. “It feels bigger than us, but we also feel a part of it. It all feels like one big family.”
And being part of the DT family extends well beyond their years at USC. Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch, a former editor-in-chief of the paper, recently had Sara Libby, who served in that post after her, as her maid of honor. Next summer, Brotherton-Bunch will return the favor as Libby’s matron of honor.
“Despite all the stress and chaos, working at the Daily Trojan … easily was the most wonderful part of my time at USC,” Brotherton-Bunch said. “It’s really a wonderful, lasting legacy.”
Here are just a few of the newspaper’s milestones:
Sept. 16, 1912: The first issue — then called The Daily Southern Californian — is published.
1913-14: Julia McCorkle becomes the paper’s first female editor-in-chief. She later goes on to be an English professor at USC.
Sept. 16, 1915: The paper becomes The Southern California Trojan.
Feb. 17, 1925: The paper changes its name to Southern California Daily Trojan and expands to publishing five days per week.
1942-47: During World War II, many staffers were called into military service. Only one editor, Mary Frances Touton (1944-45), was able to complete her one-year term.
1975: Editor-in-Chief Kari Granville becomes the first journalist in the country to interview former President Richard M. Nixon after his resignation from office.
1979: The Daily Trojan (“Southern California” was dropped from its name during the 1960s) transitions from typewriters to computers.
1996: The Daily Trojan goes online.
2005: The Daily Trojan goes digital: The paper is produced on the computer from start to finish, with pages sent to the press digitally every night.