THE first student publication on the campus of the University of Michigan in the form of a student newspaper was The Peninsular Phoenix and Gazetteer published by secret society members during the college year 1857-58. Dealing for the most part with college matters, it was published three times during the year.
The University Chronicle was first published in 1867. A biweekly of eight pages, it dealt with student problems and Michigan and general college news. The staff of The University Chronicle was equally divided between members of secret societies and independents. It was consolidated into The Chronicle in 1869.
The Chronicle, the first issue of which appeared in September, 1869, had been organized the spring before. The first number, of sixteen pages, included topical articles and items of general college news and announced itself as a forum for the discussion of campus matters. Finding this an insufficient field for its endeavors, it proposed to expand beyond purely college news in 1872 and accept literary contributions. This effort does not seem to have met with much success, however, for The Chronicle issues for the succeeding years differ in only minor respects from those before the plan was announced. Throughout its relatively long and successful life, the paper maintained a policy of frank and outspoken antagonism to the faculty and the Board of Regents of the University. The Chronicle was issued as a biweekly until 1877, when it was changed to a weekly. In 1883 it acquired a cover and increased its size to twenty-two pages. The issues of 1870, 1871, and 1872 were outstanding in the field of college journalism at that time. Originally edited by a board of eight editors, again divided between secret-society men and independents, in 1887 the size of the board was increased to twelve. In 1876 "The Chronicle Association" was incorporated, the right of voting for the editors was limited to members, and the membership was limited to students of the Literary Department. The Chronicle was consolidated into The Chronicle-Argonaut in 1890.
Having been left out of the organization of The Chronicle, the students in the professional departments started the publication of a sixteen-page biweekly of their own in 1879 called The University. It lasted for only two volumes.
As a result of a piece of political chicanery by the members, several fraternities were excluded from the vote for the editors of The Chronicle in 1882. These five fraternities then started a rival paper called The University Argonaut, which first appeared in October, 1882. Begun as a biweekly of twenty pages, it changed to an eight-page weekly in 1884. Until The University Argonaut was merged into Page 1909The Chronicle-Argonaut in 1890 as a result of further fraternity-independent trouble, the fraternities were divided in their allegiance to The Chronicle and The University Argonaut. As a result of the same battle over the control of The Chronicle which resulted in The University Argonaut, a paper was issued in May, 1882, called The Boomerang, which expired after one issue.
The Chronicle-Argonaut, published weekly, lasted only through the year 1890-91. After the decease of The Chronicle-Argonaut in the spring of 1891, the fraternities which had been represented on its board published for a short time in the fall of 1891 a weekly called The Yellow and the Blue.
In 1889 the nonfraternity editors of The Chronicle resigned from the board of editors and formed the Independent Association, which published the first issue of The U. of M. Daily in September, 1890. Although the original board of fourteen editors was composed entirely of antifraternity men, a few editors from fraternities were admitted in 1895-96. The first issue of the paper was of four pages, and the first volume contained 174 issues.
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of The U. of M. Daily in 1921, Ralph Stone ('92l), one of the founders and Regent from 1924 to 1940, said: "The avowed object of the Daily editors from the very start was to furnish the news of the University promptly and accurately, likewise to promote clean athletics and sound morals among the student body. It was a strenuous task to blaze the trail for the first two years, but the news service was complete and the Daily was a positive influence for good during the period of which I have knowledge from my connection with it."
While this high-minded attitude probably gained something from the thirty years of retrospect, there is no doubt that when the paper was founded it took considerable courage to attempt a daily publication. Under the leadership of Otto H. Hans, who was for four years the business manager of The Daily, and the managing editor in 1900-1901, several important changes were made in the paper. It was decided to abandon the Monday edition and print one on Sunday, because there was no campus news created on Sunday. Likewise, The Daily undertook delivery before breakfast. Both of these moves were innovations in college journalism. At the same time the column length was increased, making The Daily the largest student paper in the United States.
In the spring of 1901, a competitor to The Daily to be called The Varsity News was under consideration. After a survey of the advertisers, it was found that the town could not support two daily papers, so a consolidation was effected, resulting in the publication in the fall of 1901 of The Michigan Daily-News. This paper lasted for two years, and the last edition in the spring of 1903 announced the sale of the paper to the University Senate. The Board in Control of The Michigan Daily, as it was then called, changed the name of the paper to The Michigan Daily and again altered the page size.
With the change to University control of the paper, The Daily ceased to be the organ of a clique, as it had been accused of being previously and extended its sympathy to the whole University. Although it had been hoped by some members of the faculty who were opposed to the former management of the paper that the new Board in Control would exercise an effective censorship over the news columns, the board, under the leadership of Professor Scott, quickly made it clear that it had no intention of doing so, believing that a certain amount of responsibility was essential to the development Page 1910of the student editors and that the paper would lose favor with its student audience if it were known that the faculty were censoring it.
In 1907 it was declared by the Board in Control that it was the policy of the Daily "to steer along a safe course between becoming a mere bulletin board on the one hand and a modern newspaper on the other." One can imagine how the student editors felt about this pronunciamento.
With the summer session of 1910 a paper for the students of the summer was started, called The Wolverine. Edited by Lee A White, the paper featured campus life during the summer and appeared thrice weekly in the afternoons. It had no formal connection with the Daily, although it was mainly staffed by Daily men. In 1922 The Wolverine was changed to The Summer Michigan Daily and made a daily during the summer session.
The size of The Daily was increased from five to six columns and the page was made one inch longer in 1911, and new type and headlines were authorized. The Association of Eastern College Newspapers awarded to The Daily in 1916 its first prize for an editorial written by Verne E. Burnett, one of its editors for that year.
During the year that the United States was involved in World War I it was found to be almost impossible to get editors for the paper, most of those who had been chosen in the spring of 1917 having left school to join the Army. In this situation the Board in Control adopted the expedient of choosing a woman, Miss Mildred C. Mighell, as managing editor for the first time in the history of the paper. When the regularly chosen editor returned in January, 1919, however, he took over his position.
In the fall of 1920 the University authorities started publishing the "Official Bulletin" of the University in The Daily and at the same time paying for subscriptions to the paper for all of the members of the faculty. This policy has been followed ever since with the exception of a few days in the fall of 1931 when the faculty subscriptions were withdrawn by a University administrative officer because of a misunderstanding over some critical articles which had appeared in the paper.
In 1932 The Summer Michigan Daily was taken from the hands of the student editors and complete control vested in the dean of the summer session. Full-time editors were chosen for the paper, usually from the senior staff of the Daily for the preceding year, and the paper was sent to all students in the summer session, the subscription being added to the tuition fee. The first Summer Michigan Daily to be issued under this plan of professional editing was also the first edition of the Daily to be printed in the new Student Publications Building (see Part VIII: Student Publications Building). Coincidental with the move into the new building and the purchase of all new equipment was a change in the type face used both for the body type and the headlines. Instead of the hodgepodge of Cheltenham and any other type face that happened to be handy, The Daily adopted a uniform headline form of upper and lower case Bodoni type, following the type style set by the New York Herald-Tribune.
For many years the Daily has been one of the best, if not the best college newspaper in the country. Being a member of the Associated Press and the only morning newspaper printed in Ann Arbor, it has been able to combine on its front page a mixture of important national news with well-written and edited local and campus news. At various times it has carried on its editorial page the work of campus columnists of a very high Page 1911grade, although in recent years these have given way to nationally syndicated columns. In its early years the Daily was primarily concerned with news of campus sporting events, but, gradually, most of such material has been concentrated on a special sports page, only the most important sport results being given front-page space. Also in recent years a special page is sometimes given over to campus society news and articles of particular interest to women students.
In order to lessen the cut-throat competition among the underclassmen for the senior positions on the staff, the Board in Control has attempted many times to reorganize the staff so that advancement will be purely on a merit basis, and at the same time has tried to equalize the senior salaries so that this item will constitute less of a factor in the minds of the underclass editors. So far none of these experiments have proved completely successful, and the process of evolution of a satisfactory system is still going on. In 1956 there were almost 200 students on the staff of the Daily.
The paper is edited by a board of senior editors, headed by the managing editor. They are chosen annually by the Board in Control of Student Publications from the eligible juniors on the staff.
The number of pages in the paper depends on the amount of advertising obtained for the day. In the affluent days of the late 1920's, The Daily consisted not infrequently of sixteen pages, while during the depths of the depression of the early 1930's many issues contained only four pages. At the present time the majority of the papers are of eight pages, with an occasional six-page issue.