An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Daily Texan History

The Daily Texan: Since 1900, by and for the students …

… with an eye on the larger world beyond UT


For more than a century, The Daily Texan has been keeping the University of Texas community up to date about news of the campus and the world beyond the 40 Acres.

Its writers have covered city, county and state governments, as well as such big stories as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination; the 1965 civil-rights march from Selma, Ala., to the state Capitol in Montgomery; a massive November 1969 protest in Washington, D.C., against the Vietnam war; and the near-disaster aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft in 1970. Often, they have had to stand up to authorities who wanted them out of the way.

Because its reporters have accepted the responsibilities that go with such work and because they have delivered the goods on deadline, The Texan has proved to be a springboard for the careers of a host of notable journalists, including Walter Cronkite; Bill Moyers; Ronnie Dugger, who went on to found The Texas Observer; Willie Morris; Karen Tumulty of Time magazine and The Washington Post; Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists Berke Breathed and Ben Sargent; and Karen Elliott House, who won a Pulitzer Prize while working for The Wall Street Journal and later became its publisher.

In comments for this website, House, a former Texan managing editor, said the experience she gained by standing up to UT Board of Regents Chairman Frank Erwin, The Texan’s nemesis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, stood her in good stead when she later interviewed such potentially daunting subjects as Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin and Deng Xiaoping.

Other noteworthy Texan alumni include Lady Bird Johnson; Liz Carpenter, who became Johnson’s press secretary; Jane Chesnutt, the editor of Woman’s Day magazine from 1991 to 2009; and gossip columnist Liz Smith, who declared to great applause at The Texan’s centennial celebration in 1999 that gossip “is the cherry on the ice-cream sundae of democracy.”

But there always has been more to working for The Texan than acquiring an impressive file of clippings for prospective employers. For young reporters and editors entrusted with putting out a daily paper, getting a first exposure to the world of grown-up journalism is exhilarating, providing a thrill that is positively visceral. As a result of this equivalent of a runner’s high, Texan staffers routinely work insanely long hours for relatively low pay as they explore their new craft and, occasionally, push the boundaries.

“The Texan was the center of my life at UT,” said John Watkins, a former Texan managing editor who went on to a career in law. Except for a year he spent clerking for 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Homer Thornberry, Watkins said in comments for this website that working for The Texan was the best job he ever had.

And, several former staffers said, the friendships that Texan staffers have made with their colleagues have endured for decades.

First publication: Oct. 8, 1900

It wasn’t always called The Daily Texan. When the first issue was published on Oct. 8, 1900, 17 years after the university’s founding, it was simply The Texan, a four-page weekly. The front page had no illustrations and just two articles, one about the opening of school and another about the prospects for that year’s football team.

In his first editorial, Fritz G. Lanham said the paper’s goal should be “ultimately to please the student body.” While he acknowledged that there were two sides to every issue, he said The Texan should present only “the proper one.”

Such verbal deftness served him well: Lanham was elected to Congress in 1919 and served until 1947.

Throughout its history, The Texan has acquired a reputation of standing up to authority at any level, not only for its aggressive reporting but also for its forthright editorials, most often against the university administration (especially the Board of Regents) but also against the United States’ war in Vietnam.

That wasn’t always the case. In 1904, Clinton Brown, the editor, wrote: “The Texan will contain lots of news and very little expression of opinion. If an opinion is necessary, we shall seek to make it the thought and feeling of the students and shall not tire you with telling what we think about anything.”

This stance apparently wasn’t voluntary because college media didn’t have protection from censorship. Until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down prior restraints in its ruling on Near v. Minnesota (1931), only the federal government was forbidden to censor the press.

The Texan started coming out twice a week in 1907. In January 1913, Student Government Association President Hugh Potter proposed making the paper a daily. Three months later, the student body approved it overwhelmingly, 986-47.

The first Daily Texan appeared Sept. 24, 1913, with a picture of 49 primly posing staff members taking up four columns at the bottom of the front page. Included in that group were 13 women.

From the outset, Texan readers had to pay for the privilege, starting with $1.25 per year (the equivalent of about $34 today). In May 1915, students approved, 1,307-213, the blanket tax to underwrite athletic programs and student publications, and The Texan became a free publication.

Fighting for open meetings

Lynn Landrum, the editor that year, didn’t shy away from controversy. He blasted the Students Association for not letting a Texan reporter attend its meetings. When he was criticized for the five editorials he wrote in his early advocacy of open meetings, he replied, “We have no apologies for the part of The Texan in the discussion.”

Landrum apparently didn’t yearn to be popular. “When a newspaper man has got to the point where he is threatened with a good sound thrashing, he has arrived at the dignity of being a real journalism,” he wrote. “According to this view, The Texan has more than one journalist on the job.”

He left office prematurely, saying it left him no time for schoolwork, and went on to a career at The Dallas Morning News.

Although The Texan had proved that it could be vociferous in its editorials, it was silent on the controversy that erupted in 1917, when Gov. James Ferguson vetoed the university’s appropriation. According to Tara Copp and Robert L. Rogers’ history of The Texan, there’s no clear explanation for that decision, but there may have been a fear that Ferguson would retaliate with a libel suit.

The Texan left no doubt about its stance, however, when the United States entered World War I in 1917. It printed all the verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the front page and denounced dissidents. Although antiwar voices weren’t quoted, Copp and Rogers say that The Texan’s denunciation of them suggest that there was quite a bit of doubt on the 40 Acres about the United States’ role in that conflict.

When an issue was turned over to women — a common, recurring practice — an editorial was much less hawkish, proclaiming a stand against “militarism” and adding, “We fight that fighting may be done away with forever and ever. . . . We women of Texas pray for peace.”
The draft depleted The Texan ranks. Editor Silas Ragsdale described the remaining staffers as “physical wrecks, women or youths.”

The Spanish flu pandemic forced publication to be suspended for nearly two weeks in October 1918 because delivery would be uncertain. After the Armistice a month later, a paper shortage forced The Texan to be published “in abbreviated form.”

TSP, Inc. created in 1921

In the wake of financial mismanagement, Texas Student Publications Inc. was established in 1921. The budget for 1922, the first full year in which TSP ran the publications, was $30,905.96 (equivalent to about $415,000 today).

Copp and Rogers reported on two controversies that erupted in 1922: Dean of Women Lucy Newton protested what she deemed a risque ad for “jersey silk lingerie” that reached to the knees, and an editorial opposed the regents’ ban on student ownership of cars.

In 1924, the regents banned everyone from a meeting where a new UT president was elected. An enterprising freshman scribe, whose name never was revealed, hid in a closet, took notes and wrote a detail-rich story. The result: Gov. Pat Neff was elected, but he turned down the job.

The Texan’s contentious relationship with authority continued in 1927, when Editor Sam Johnson resigned in protest after alleging that the Faculty Disciplinary Committee was trying to censor The Texan and suppress students’ opinions in political matters.

Shortly after the United States entered World War II, the federal government ordered Japanese-Americans on the West Coast rounded up and herded into internment camps. On the 40 Acres, The Texan urged tolerance toward Japanese students.

The dominant issue in 1942, and for many years to come, involved UT President Homer Rainey. It involved academic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and it proved to be a harbinger of the Red-baiting tactics in postwar America.

It started in the summer of 1942 when the regents refused to reappoint J. Fagg Foster, an economics professor, allegedly because of his political views. The Texan editorialized, declaring that academic freedom “is greatly threatened on our own 40 Acres. If this right is not enjoyed, then our great institution of higher learning is degenerated to valueless finishing school …. Academic freedom must be preserved. To this end, The Daily Texan will fight — until the day when it is denied Freedom of the Press.”

More firings followed, as did editorials. The Houston Post dismissed Texan staff as fellow travelers; The Texan retaliated by saying The Post’s editor had “a chronic condition of the reactionary glands.”

Jack Maguire, who became editor when Weldon Brewer joined the military, supported the regents, saying they had the right to inquire about professors whose ideas seemed questionable. He later was director of the Ex-Students Association.

First woman editor

In 1944, Helene Wilke became the first woman to edit The Texan for an entire year. She supported Rainey’s proposal to move the medical and dental schools from Galveston to Austin.

Arthur Brandon, of UT’s public relations office, was demoted by the regents for no reason. Rainey supported him; Brandon quit.

The root of the Rainey controversy, Copp and Rogers suggest, may have been a 1940 editorial by Boyd Sinclair about gubernatorial candidates who “parade their patriotism.” That fueled demands that he be censored or even expelled, but Rainey said Sinclair had the right to speak his mind, leading some to suggest that Sinclair was a Communist.

After The Texan printed a Rainey salvo against the regents, students gathered to sing “The Eyes of Texas.”

The board fired him on Nov. 1, 1944. The next day, students marched on the Capitol in what was described as a “funeral procession for academic freedom.”

Although the exact reasons for Rainey’s firing were unclear at the time, Copp and Rogers said the facts came out later. They said the regents gave Rainey a list of liberal professors and told him to fire them. He said he couldn’t do so without justification. The regents, saying that their order justified sacking him.

The reaction in the academic world was fierce. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting body for colleges and universities, put UT on probation, and the American Association of University Professors, a group advocating academic freedom, censured the university.

T.S. Painter was appointed to succeed Rainey. The Texan criticized that action because of his ties to the regents, but that editorial was censored.

Like many other UT administrators, Painter was furious at The Texan. He disliked the newspaper because it opposed him on the firing of a liberal professor. He complained to Regents Chairman Dudley Woodward, closing with this paragraph:

“The Texan has always been a problem, and I suspect that the Department of Journalism is in part responsible for the general attitude which Texan editors all too often take with regard to the university.”

Regent, E.E. Kirkpatrick, who apparently was fed up with The Texan, wrote to Woodward:

“As a governing board, we cannot condone nor tolerate the insidious insults which have been thrown at us and the university for the past year.”

But Painter seemed to have a change of heart. Copp and Rogers cite Painter’s letter to Woodward, who was trying to determine how to seize control of The Texan.

In the wake of World War II, he wrote, “and in view of all of the social unrest which we find in young people, their general world-mindedness, and their open questioning of the wisdom of the elder generations, I am inclined to believe that the wisest course of action is to have open discussion of even the most controversial questions which the students wish to be informed about.”

That conciliatory move had no effect on Palmer Bradley, a Houston lawyer, who called The Texan “a cross between The Daily Worker and The Houston Informer,” a black-run newspaper.

Harrell E. Lee was hired to keep an eye on things as The Texan’s editorial adviser, a position he held until 1958. He was a member of the journalism faculty, teaching reporting, editorial writing and evaluation of coverage of current affairs.

Red-baiting, McCarthy and The Texan

Red-baiting had been going on long before Joseph McCarthy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1946 and wound up lending his name to the movement. The Texan caught hell from other newspapers when it published an editorial in 1943 saying Russia was trying to set things right that had plagued the Soviet Union since the Revolution.

This salvo came from The Houston Post: “The left-wing swing evident among some elements of both faculty and student body of the University of Texas reached the farthest point yet on the road to Moscow — farther than Hitler got — in a recent issue of the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan.”

On March 14, 1943, the state House passed a resolution condemning the editorial.

In 1947, when a Communist speaker was denied the use of a room, a Texan editorial criticized the move, saying, “Are we afraid of ideas here?”

Since the early 1940s, The Texan had supported civil rights. It criticized attacks on African Americans in other cities and opposed race-based UT restrictions that kept dance organizers from hiring well-known bands that happened to be integrated. The committee that organized these functions cried “yellow journalism” but said they would consider musicians of any race.

In an especially courageous editorial, Bob Owens likened America’s treatment of African Americans to Germany’s treatment of Jews. He wrote that editorial in the spring of 1943, shortly before resigning to join the military and fight in World War II. He was killed in action.

In 1945, the TSP Board ordered The Texan to stop discussing race relations.

Then came Sweatt v. Painter. Herman Sweatt, a black Texan, applied to UT’s Law School in 1946. Texan Editor Bill Noble opposed admitting him, saying that black Texans had a law school of their own, in Prairie View.

The NAACP took on the case. Its attorney, Thurgood Marshall, said that law school, which was in a basement and lacked a library, was inferior to UT’s, despite UT leaders’ claims that the Prairie View law school was just as good.

Several Texan editors, starting with Jo White, spoke out in favor of Sweatt’s admission in particular and racial equality in general. Though Sweatt lost in state court, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld him in 1950, paving the way for the 1954 ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education, which said segregated public schools are unconstitutional.

Texan opposes firings for political reasons

This wasn’t all that The Texan was covering. Its reporters were writing about beatings and poor conditions at the State School for the Deaf, poor conditions in mental institutions and the lack of fire escapes in the journalism building, where they worked. Editor Dick Elam opposed dismissing teachers for their political leanings and urged students to reject loyalty oaths — another ingredient of the Red scare — that Gov. Allan Shivers had signed into law.

There was fun, too, including Saturday editions for home football games and burnt orange on front and inside pages, as well as fashion advice for Memorial Stadium attire. And Editor Ronnie Dugger backed a boycott of barbers who had raised the price of a haircut from 85 cents to $1, urging support of a “Bushy Bevo month.”

In 1952, Anne Chambers and Jo Ann Dickerson became The Texan’s first female editor-managing editor team, starting their term with this note: “The Texan is not on our shoulders, but in our hands.”

When they held the newspaper’s top two positions, Copp and Rogers wrote, there were fewer pictures of women in swimsuits and more stories about issues relating to women that had nothing to do with homemaking.

During their term, the Journalism Building opened at 24th and Whitis streets. It was The Texan’s home for the next two decades, until the completion of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its epochal decision mandating public-school desegregation and striking down the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Nevertheless, Chancellor Logan Wilson refused to admit black undergraduates, and Editor Shirley Strum opposed him.

Editor Willie Morris, a man of many causes, continued this battle when he was editor in 1955-56, as did Hoyt Purvis and Sam Kinch Jr. in the early 1960s. The Texan supported desegregating classes and housing.

That fight was won in October 1963 on all fronts except housing, and that barrier fell in May 1964, after a sit-in in Kinsolving Dormitory.

The 1963-64 school year had started promisingly, not only on the desegregation front but also on the football field, as the Longhorns seemed destined to win the national football crown.

But on Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. The Texan responded by chartering a plane and sending four reporters and a photographer there.

The Texan kept up its coverage after that traumatic weekend, focusing on such matters as the recovery of Gov. John Connally, a former student-body president, from his wounds, and Lynda Bird Johnson, the new president’s oldest daughter, a UT sophomore. She lived in the Zeta Tau Alpha house, which had to build a wing to accommodate the Secret Service members assigned to protect her.

Civil rights and Vietnam

The tradition of covering events beyond the campus continued in March 1965, when Editor Charmayne Marsh, Editor-elect Kaye Northcott, a photographer and a columnist headed to Selma for the civil-rights march to Montgomery.

Northcott, who later became co-editor of The Texas Observer, took over that fall. A hallmark of her term was continuing criticism of the United States’ deepening involvement in Vietnam, despite pressure from the administration to stop.

At one point, sports reporter Sam Keach told Copp and Rogers, Texan staffers’ paychecks failed to show up. Despite derision from his colleagues, Keach said, he went to the downtown law office of Frank Erwin, The Texan’s frequent nemesis, to ask for help.

While he was in the office, Keach said, Erwin called Norman Hackerman, vice chancellor for academic affairs and said: “I understand these poor students who work at The Daily Texan can’t seem to get their paychecks. Will you check into it? You know they need money so they can eat.’”

By the time Keach got back to The Texan office, he said, the checks had arrived.

Just a few months later — on Aug. 1, 1966 — the university endured one of the darkest days in its history, when Charles Whitman started firing a rifle from the Tower’s observation deck. Before he was killed, Whitman had slain 17 people and wounded 32 others.

Because the Tower was near the Journalism Building, Texan photographers were afraid to go outside, Editor John Economidy told Copp and Rogers. “I said, ‘Get off your butts and get a Pulitzer Prize.’”

Economidy went out himself, the authors said, and saw a man picked off 50 yards from where he stood.

On that day, Texan staffers not only covered the many aspects of the tragedy but also served as reference points for the national reporters who converged upon the campus.

That fall term seemed to usher in a time of protests. People gathered on the Main Mall to protest the Vietnam War, the plight of Mexican-Americans, threats to academic freedom and the conditions in the Chuck Wagon in the Texas Union.

In a nod to the changing times, Copp and Rogers wrote, The Texan published a questionnaire about the Chuck Wagon with this item: “I have smoked pot in the Chuck Wagon (1) Frequently (2) Infrequently (3) Never.”

Protests over an attempt to exclude non-students from the Chuck Wagon turned violent that fall, Texan reporter Ruth Doyle SoRelle said.

Chuck Wagon, students and riot gear

“I was inside the Chuck Wagon interviewing students who were occupying it when the (Department of Public Safety troops) came in one door and we all ran out the other,” she said. “They had a big flatbed truck they were going to haul us away in, but I think they went back mostly empty. I remember that it was strange going toe-to-toe with the DPS in their moon helmets and riot gear, but I don’t remember being afraid. Too young and stupid, I guess.”

One of the most passionate protests occurred in the fall of 1969, when students took to the oak trees along Waller Creek to keep them from being ripped up to make way for Memorial Stadium’s expansion. Erwin was there, urging police to arrest protesters who were not only in the oaks but also in front of the bulldozers.

“I remember going up to Frank Erwin and telling him there was an injunction on the way to stop him,” SoRelle said. “He just told the bulldozers to go faster. The protesters were up in the trees, and I was in a miniskirt. I remember, after the trees were down, the protesters picked them up and marched on the Tower.”

Protests against the Vietnam war — rallies on campus followed by marches to the Capitol — were frequent that year. In November 1969, Karen Elliott House, John Watkins and Carolyn Hinckley went to Washington where about 250,000 people converged for a massive demonstration.

Said Watkins: “Three images stick in my mind: watching protesters being tear-gassed at the Justice Department, looking over the huge crowd from the side of the stage set up on the Mall, and working with Carolyn on our story in the press tent, next to a haggard-looking guy who turned out to be from The New York Times. Heady stuff.”

Antiwar protests continued throughout the year, culminating in late spring after President Richard Nixon extended the war into Cambodia and four Kent State University students were shot dead by National Guardsmen during an antiwar protest there.

That triggered four days and nights of ‘round-the-clock protest on the Main Mall. Speakers included the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who happened to be visiting the campus for a previously scheduled lecture. Even though the end-of-semester papers and projects loomed, Texan staffers put in long hours on the Mall and in the office.

On Friday of that week, they were in the streets, covering thousands of people marching to the Capitol. Violence had seemed likely because the city had initially denied a parade permit, based on a city ordinance that would let them decide who should receive permission.

Three lawyers intervened, quickly obtaining a temporary restraining order against the city, and the march went on as planned. Watkins recalled a photograph he took of smiling Girl Scouts, who had happened to be visiting the Capitol that day, standing in front of helmeted police in riot gear.

It wasn’t all protests that year. The Texan was in Fayetteville, Ark., when the Longhorns won the national football title in a come-from-behind 15-14 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, with Nixon in attendance.

In April, when word of potentially life-threatening trouble aboard Apollo 13 had developed, Texan staffers Cliff Avery, Quin Mathews and Middy Randerson piled into Randerson’s 1967 Mustang for the drive through the night to NASA headquarters outside Houston, where they received their press badges and waited for developments in a story that had captured the attention of the world.

Said Randerson: “I have treasured the memory of that nighttime journey, that piece of cardboard announcing to the world that I was a legitimate journalist and the camaraderie we three neophyte newshounds shared on this epic adventure.”

Bauer House and “anonymous donor”

The Texan’s big news the next year involved Bauer House, a mansion that was being renovated — actually, demolished and rebuilt — to become the official residence of Chancellor Charles LeMaistre, though work began when Harry Ransom was Chancellor.  Acting on a tip, reporters Ron Martin and Jorjanna Price revealed that the cost of work on the house, originally estimated at about $250,000, may have been as much as $1 million and that it was done without taking competitive sealed bids, as state law requires. (Part of the construction cost was due to need for an elevator for Ransom, who had health issues, plus design requests by Ransom’s wife.)

“After we published the first story or two the legislature got interested,” Editor Andy Yemma said. “Sen. Babe Schwartz of Galveston convened a special subcommittee, and it was at its first hearing on the matter that Erwin admitted there were huge cost overruns, but they were being covered by an anonymous donor to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. A likely story.

“Of course, being dogged journos, the DT staff started calling around to see if we could come up with any clues to the identify to the donor, convinced there was none. Erwin then accused The DT of scaring off the anonymous donor and other potential donors and that the UT system had to return the money (so it was our fault that the Bauer House cost so much?).

“He then forbade The DT from giving free copies of the paper to legislators. So we started a fundraising drive to cover the cost and circumvent his order. I recall a great celebration in the DT office one afternoon when (TSP Business Manager) Loyd Edmonds came down with a check for $1,000 or some such amount (huge to us) from a real anonymous donor to cover the cost of mailing DTs to the legislators.

“The other thing I remember well was finally being granted an interview on the Bauer House matter by Deputy Chancellor Don Walker, a rather intimidating fellow, who basically refused to answer any questions. I wrote an editorial off of that entitled ‘The Public’s Right to NO!’ It won us the Freedoms Award from the Associated Collegiate Press/ National Council of College Publication Advisers.”

That happened in the spring of 1971, and it only worsened the newspaper’s relationship with Erwin.

The 50-year TSP, Inc. charter was to expire in July 1971. Under the terms of incorporation, assets would revert to the regents when the corporation was dissolved. LeMaistre, Copp and Rogers wrote, called for shifting TSP control from students representing the entire student body to students selected from the journalism school.

Although the plan was ostensibly motivated by the regents’ desire for professionalism, the authors say Erwin made his plan clear over drinks at the 40 Acres Club, when he announced that he planned to “(expletive) The Texan.”

A successful counteroffer that included work by Edmonds and University President Steven Spurr came up with a “Declaration of Trust,” which made TSP an independent body but gave its assets to the regents.

“I was among the first ‘supper’ guests at the Bauer House, discussing strategy with LeMaistre, Jenkins Garrett (Board of Regents member), DeWitt Reddick (former dean of college of communication), Norris Davis (head of Journalism department) and Mike Quinn (UT System executive) on how to counter Erwin and his attack on The Texan,” former journalism professor Griff Singer recalls. “Soon, visits were made to every major newspaper editor/editorial board in Texas to garner support for The Texan. We got it.”

John Reetz remembers walking across the tarmac after departing a UT jet in Corpus Christi to meet with a group of waiting editors from major Texas papers, gathered by LeMaistre and Quinn and others under the explanation of “mediating” the dispute, but really to lend a hand of support. “Our blanket tax funds were cut off, we were living on ad revenue alone, cutting expenses left and right that summer, and generally hunkered down, so it was pretty great to have the owners, editors and publishers of Texas newspapers standing up on our behalf.”

Cliff Avery and Reetz remember meeting at the University System offices downtown, but also, ironically at the Bauer House, to discuss strategy. “It all began there,” Avery recalls, “so perhaps fitting that that it where the plan was built.”

“When it all blew up that spring, ” Reetz said, “several of us — Cliff, Cyndi Taylor Krier included — went by the Bauer House late one night, or early one morning, and came very, very close to scaling the walls to see what it was all about. We were later glad we had held off; it wouldn’t have been smart to get caught by security climbing the walls.”

Months later, the “Declaration of Trust” agreement became the new organizational structure for The Texan.

“We do not fund anything that we don’t control.”

In March 1972, Erwin made a statement that encapsulated his attitude toward The Texan: “We do not fund anything that we don’t control.”

Two years later, as Texan staffers were in Waco to accept a sweepstakes prize from the Southwestern Journalism Congress, the regents voted to eliminate funding for the newspaper and student government.

Texan staffers fought back, with the support of several state legislators, and about 3,000 students rallied on the South Mall, urging Erwin to reconsider. He backed down, the authors say, but added that the whole back-and-forth wouldn’t have been necessary “if you can find a way to keep The Texan from making administrators’ jobs so difficult.”

It was a time of transition. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson died in January 1973 and was buried in the hill country he loved, after thousands filed past his coffin in the LBJ Library on the UT campus. The Vietnam war officially ended, although fighting was to continue for two more years.

And The Texan made the transition from hot type to cold type, and from typewriters to computers as The Texan moved from the Journalism Building to the Jones complex.

But the transition didn’t go as smoothly as people had hoped, staffer Jeanne Janes said. “I recall the Monday edition got out on Wednesday, the Tuesday and Wednesday editions hit the campus on Thursday, and by Friday, we finished the week.”

In 1983, Roger Campbell became The Texan’s first black editor. Although he said he was “damn proud” to have this distinction, Campbell also said, “there are signs that racism is still as much a tradition as UT football.”

One large race-related incident on campus that triggered years of discussion in The Texan’s pages was a 1992 federal suit that Cheryl Hopwood filed, claiming reverse discrimination in being denied admission to UT’s law school.

Hopwood, who is white, lost at the district-court level after a 1994 trial but won a reversal at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the university could not use race to diversify its law-school enrollment.

UT appealed, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. However, in a 2003 ruling on another case, the court said the Constitution doesn’t prohibit the law school’s “narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions” to achieve a diverse student body.

Financial struggles for The Texan

Despite the university’s reputation as an outpost of wealth, The Texan has gone through financial struggles during the past three decades.

In the mid-1980s, the real estate crash send advertising income plummeting. And a 1991 recession left the paper with a $250,000 deficit. Student government officials proposed giving The Texan that amount from money it had planned to use to build a student-services center, but Editor Kevin McHargue declined the offer, saying it would taint the newspaper’s credibility.

And here we are again. The Texan, like other print publications, needs money to remain viable in an increasingly competitive environment. This spring, Texan alumni prevented a vote to cut the number of The Texan’s publication days, but the newspaper where so many journalists learned their trade is still struggling with declining revenue.

Please help. Join Friends of The Daily Texan.


Editor’s Note: A sincere thank you to John Pope, a reporter and copy editor for The Daily Texan from 1969 to 1972, and a reporter for | The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He was a member of the newspaper’s team that won two Pulitzer Prizes, a George Polk Award and a National Headliner Award in 2006 for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Reporter’s Note: In researching and writing this article, I have relied heavily on “The Daily Texan: The First 100 Years” by former editors Tara Copp and Robert L. Rogers, and comments from former Texan staffers Karen Elliott House, Jeanne Janes, Middy Randerson, Ruth Doyle SoRelle, John Watkins and Andy Yemma. Deep thanks to all of you.