Collegian History, briefly

Penn State's student newspaper has appeared in many shapes and sizes, and has called itself by different names. The only thing constant about Collegian is that it has remained a student-operated newspaper for more than a century.

Collegian traces its history back to April of 1887, when the Free Lance first appeared. The first issue of the Free Lance apologized for being days late, and begged for student contributions. Later that same year, the Free Lance published an editorial strongly supporting Prohibition, saying it would "rescue the wives and babes from the injuries of intemperance." The Free Lance was a topic for its own pages in 1904, when editors asked for financial support from delinquent subscribers. Their pleas were unsuccessful.

Many of the same staff members formed the foundation of the State Collegian in 1904, which was renamed the Penn State Collegian on Sept. 28, 1911. In 1914, the Penn State Collegian conducted a readership survey. Of a student body estimated at around 2000 students, the survey netted 50 responses. The biggest bone of contention was that the Y.M.C.A. was allotted far too much news space.

With the issue of Sept. 14, 1920, the Penn State Collegian began semi-weekly publication.

The 1920 Homecoming issue of the Penn State Collegian reported on preparations for the football game with Dartmouth, the speaker at the Alumni Smoker (PA governor William C. Sproul), and the Freshman class festivities, which included a contest for the "Worst Dressed" freshman.

September of 1940 saw the birth of The Daily Collegian, as Collegian was chartered as a non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors elected by the newspaper's Senior Board. Due to World War II, The Daily Collegian suspended daily publication in May 1943, operating as a weekly and semi-weekly publication until it returned to daily status again in the Fall of 1946. Many of the women who were instrumental in publication during the war continued to hold influential staff positions.

Surviving World War II and getting back to business as usual meant putting out a quality newspaper. In May 1948, The Daily Collegian was given an award for excellence in advertising research by the National Advertising Service. In October 1949, Collegian's news and editorial content earned All-American honors and the top national award from the Associated Collegiate Press.

Other than announcing awards and explaining new formats, the Collegian tries to stay off its own front pages. But occasionally, Collegian is the news. Collegian has been the target of protests, picketing, and the ceremonious burning of issues of the newspaper on the steps of Carnegie Building (the former location of the Collegian offices). Staff members have been dismissed and editors and reporters have been suspended. Through it all, Collegian has learned valuable lessons. Sometimes it's easy to forget that students are behind Collegian, writing editorials which sometimes struggle to understand the world around us.

Another exciting chapter in Collegian history unfolded during the summer of 1996 with the launch of The Daily Collegian Online. During our first year of online publishing, The Daily Collegian Online set new standards for delivering information to the Penn State community. For the first time, Collegian could deliver breaking news as it was happening.

The scandal that shattered Penn State in November 2011 was a challenging time for The Daily Collegian. Surrounded by national media, students produced outstanding content, delivered into the hands of thousands of readers.

In addition to all of the extra content produced during the week of Nov. 5, 2011, Collegian staff produced an all-news Sunday edition of The Daily Collegian. Despite the challenges of Sunday distribution, when classes are not in session, students and alumni picked up every last copy of this special edition.

On the day after Coach Joe Paterno died, Collegian published a commemorative issue. The first press run was to print 35,000 copies, a record for Collegian. When demand for copies outpaced supply, an additional 10,000 copies rolled off the press. Collegian mailed thousands of copies of this and other special issues to fill thousands of requests from alumni and other interested people.

Collegian staff was honored for their efforts, attracting national attention from The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Yorker magazine and many other places. The paper won a Pacemaker Award from College Media Association, one of six top awards in the country. One of the key reporters, Anna Orso, was awarded the CMA reporter of the year. Many other accolades followed in the wake of outstanding coverage.

As the Sandusky scandal continued with trial coverage, the Freeh Report, the NCAA Sanctions and more, Collegian continued to provide outstanding coverage and in 2013, was again awarded a Pacemaker by College Media Association.

Although not ignoring the print product, staff continues to turn toward other news delivery platforms. In 2013, Collegian began to use a content management system powered by Town News. This allows us to use consistent formats to produce the web site and mobile site. It also gathers our archives in an orderly method for easier access.

Also in 2013, Collegian became part of the iCampusTimes network of app development among college newspapers. Twitter followers and Facebook likes have been increasing as well.

The 2013-14 year marked the conversion of Collegian tabloid-format magazines to broadsheet, the format preferred by advertisers and readers.

We look forward to the future of changes and opportunities for The Daily Collegian!

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