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October 03, 2019 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily

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This week, The Daily celebrated 129 years of publication. Since that first day in 1890, The Daily has
produced Pulitzer Prize winners, famous authors, national activists and world-renowned journalists.
Every person that steps into this newsroom feels its impact, and when they leave they carry that
influence into the world. For the Paper B-Side, we felt there was no more appropriate way to honor
paper than to talk about our very own. Below is a timeline of interviews with Daily staffers of the past.
Among them are American sports writer Adam Schefter and publisher Philip Power, familiar names
that were once scrappy student reporters like the rest of us. As journalists come under fire for daring to
search for answers, we look back and remember that it was never the popular choice to tell the truth.
But someone’s got to do it.
— Samantha Della Fera, Senior Arts Editor
David Kessel — Class of 1958, Medical faculty at Wayne State University
David Kessel was a graduate student studying biochemistry at U-M when he discovered the magic
of The Michigan Daily’s newsroom. Having completed his undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Kessel was looking for something more to do on the University campus outside
of academic obligations.
“I quickly discovered that the typical graduate students were not the most interesting people on
Earth, but The Daily was full of interesting people, so that’s the place I tended to gravitate toward,”
Kessel said in a phone interview with The Daily.
Much like The Daily today, students in the ‘50s dedicated significant amounts of time and energy to
produce the paper. “I wondered if they were really taking courses because they seemed to be there all
the time,” Kessel said.
The culture of The Daily and the University during the 1950s was significantly different than what
we know today.
“There was a high degree of repression in those days. Women had to be in their dorms by 9 o’ clock.
If they got in after 9 o’clock, they sent a note to their mothers,” Kessel explained. It was a time where
the Board for Student Publications made editorial appointments and had an influence in articles that
ran for The Daily — they even had the power to censor.”
Despite apparent subjugation at times, many incredible stories ran during Kessel’s time in the
newsroom, including the testing of the Salk vaccine, a mild scare when people at the pharmacology and
mathematics departments were accused of being Communists and the death of Stalin.
“When Stalin died, they got out this headline that said ‘STALIN DEAD,’ and the guy was in charge
of the publication … came in the next day — he was furious. He said,‘I was saving that font for the end
of the world!’” Kessel exclaimed.
Kessel is in the medical faculty at Wayne State University. He says that although his life is filled with
scientific writing, The Daily is where he really learned to write. To Kessel, a college newspaper like
The Daily is not only valuable to the people who
write for it and the student body, but to society as
a whole.
“Our room was always sort of a protected area
— it was always a center of culture and knowledge.
And I hate to see all of this disappear. But when
newspapers disappear, it’s going to go with it, I’m
Harry Perlstadt — Class of 1963/Public Health
Class of 1979, award-winning sociologist and
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Michigan
State University
Harry Perlstadt wrote for The Daily during
a time when Tom Hayden was editor and sat in
the newsroom in the presence of future world-
renowned academics and journalists. Perlstadt
went on to become a distinguished sociologist and
academic himself, currently teaching at Michigan
State University (but still repping his U-M pride when our sports team beat State). He was the recipient
of the Distinguished Career Award from American Sociological Association in 2014.
Before Perlstadt was a renowned sociologist, he was a news reporter for The Daily, eventually
working as the Sunday Magazine co-editor from 1962 - 1963.
“It was an exciting time on The Daily. I couldn’t stay up late enough when J.F.K. came and made his
famous speech on the Union steps,” Perlstadt said in an interview with The Daily.
Perlstadt said The Daily played a major part in shaping his college career. He scheduled his classes
earlier in the day so that he could be at The Daily from four or five o’ clock in the afternoon until one
in the morning. How did he do it? He and the rest of the newsroom survived off of the Cottage Inn that
was always ready for editors and writers to pick up during Daily production.
“I wanted to call myself the 10 o’clock scholar,” Perlstadt joked. Perlstadt remarked that he only
skipped class once for The Daily, and that was to interview a member of the United Kingdom Parliament
— a fine excuse for a political science major.
A lot of campus climate issues came to light with the help of The Daily during his time at the paper,
Perlstadt said.
“You can now look back at it and say it was the beginning of women’s liberation on campus,” Perlstadt
said. During his time in the newsroom, there was a Dean of Women, who worked to make sure that
women at the University were following specific rules laid out for them, including curfews.
“There is this story of when Mary Markley was only a dorm for women, as all the dorms in the Hill
area on campus were. One of my friends when coming back from The Daily in her sophomore year …
had to throw stones up to her roommate at the second or third floor so her roommate would come down
and let her in,” Perlstadt chuckled.
Perlstadt most notably wrote about the GRE exam, calling it an “insult to intelligence.” The story
ended up being picked up by other college publications all across the country and eventually into the
hands of the powers that be who write the GRE.
A couple months later, James A. Lewis, then the Dean of Student Affairs at Michigan, sent Perlstadt
over to Dean of LSA Roger Heyns’s office. In the Dean’s office, he was read aloud a letter which stated:
“Please be assured that the opinions of Harry Perlstadt expressed in The Michigan Daily do not
represent those of the administration or the faculty of the University of Michigan,” Perlstadt recalled.
He ended up winning an award for courageous editorial writing.
Perlstadt formed strong bonds with those in the newsroom, which he continues to cherish to this day.
“My wife and I just had our 50th wedding anniversary a year ago in the summer, and we had a
Michigan Daily table,” Perlstadt exclaimed.
Philip Power — Class of 1960, Founder and chairman of the Center for Michigan
It was an easy choice for Harvard University transfer Philip Power to join The Daily.
“Because family friends had been on The Daily, and I’d heard about The Daily, it seemed clear to
me that The Daily and the people on it were the most interesting, most involved, most informed and
most exciting place in the University,” Philip Power said in an interview with The Daily. Power became
night editor for The Daily two months into his junior year. He eventually became editorial director,
managing columns and editorials on the paper.
The Daily newsroom itself was set-up very differently than it is today, with on-site hot type printing,
set by typographical machines and all. Power remembers all of this vividly.

The editing process was also a labor intensive task. The night editor would move into the “slot,” a
gap in the middle of a circular desk, at about eight o’clock at night, to read through, edit and write the
headlines for all the pieces to run the next day.
The stories were then sent down to the dumbwaiter, a contraption that served as an outbox for pieces
that lead to the composing room where they would go to the letter press to print.
“It was a rather more labor intensive and complicated way of getting a paper ready,” Power
explained, “but the fundamentals were the same; namely, good reporting, good writing accuracy and a
commitment to what I consider then, and consider now, serious student journalism.”
Power became very close with his peers at The Daily, spending entire days and nights working on the
paper with people like Tom Hayden.
“Our job was to do what The Daily does today. Keep an eye on malfeasance and student concerns,
and when the Administrative screws up to do our job as journalists,” Power explained. Even though
there was a journalism department at University at the time, there was no place like The Daily to get
hands-on training in journalism.
The Daily played a large part in getting rid of Deborah Bacon, the Dean of Women during the time
Perlstadt attended the University, through exposing her practice of sending letters to the parents of
women who were dating Black men on campus.
Power grew to love local journalism, running
many local newspapers. Now, he publishes
and distributes Bridge Magazine, a Michigan
newspaper read by 2.2 million people in Michigan
and named the best newspaper in Michigan for
the fourth year. He also served on the Board of
Regents for 11 years here in Ann Arbor.
Dan Okrent — Class of 1969, Pulitzer Prize
Nominee and first public editor of the New
York Times
Fresh from editing the sports section of his high
school newspaper, Dan Okrent quickly found his
niche at The Michigan Daily. A tried and true fan
but no athlete, he pursued the next best thing in
the sports world: working as a Daily sports staff
writer. The ’60s political and Daily scene, however,
quickly got a hold of him, lending his talents over
to the news section by his sophomore year. “I saw
that, particularly, given the time … ’65 to ’69, the real action was on the news side.”
Just as much a product of its time as it was its students, Daily news coverage at the late ’60s spanned
historic political events from the ongoing Vietnam War opposition to enduring civil rights movements.
These very events embed themselves in the undergraduate career of Okrent.
“In April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. I wrote the obituary that appeared in the
paper the next day. I had about an hour to write and I was pretty proud of that.”
It’s moments current Daily writers envision as history, from the assassination of Martin Luther King
Jr. to the 1968 presidential campaign and election, that Dan Okrent paints across the Michigan Daily
he knew as a college student.
The news section more or less embodied Okrent’s identity those formative years as a burgeoning
journalist. The hustle and bustle of 420 Maynard enveloped his entire college existence beyond the
words he wrote half a century ago. It was the rumble and chug of the printing press at 2 a.m., in-and-
out flow of Cottage Inn pizza boxes and everlasting bridge games that embodied the writing sphere of
these journalists.
“It was just such an exciting place to be. You know, we socialize with each other, but there were no
formal events. It’s just that we were very much involved in one another’s lives because the institution
brought us together.”
It’s this world that amplifies the “quest for truth, fairness and honesty” that embodied Okrent’s
undergraduate ambitions with more sophisticated packaging. Just as much as he shifted across
newspaper sections, his style and voice evolved with every interview and article that wrote his Daily
experience. Nowadays a prolific editor and author, he traces his strides and accomplishments to one
obvious source.
“That’s where I learned how to chase things down that I felt that the world needed to know… I don’t
know what I would have done had I not worked at The Daily.
Sara Fitzgerald — Class of 1973, author and former Washington Post editor
Sara Fitzgerald joined The Daily per the recommendation of a friend. Taking off as a staff reporter
second semester of her freshman year, she quickly found herself engrossed in the habit of taking on
news assignments by day and writing headlines by night. She eventually rose through the ranks to
Editor-In-Chief two years later.
“People have told me I’m the first woman Editor-in-Chief. I’m always a little but wary, because
I know that there were some women, particularly in the… World War II years, and I know another
woman who was the Top Editorial Official but didn’t apparently have that title. So I’m always careful.
I don’t want to claim too much.”
Fitzgerald’s tenure coincided with the surge of second wave feminism. Her papers produced
themselves in a pre-title IX world emerging from the political protest scene of the late ’60s. And right
before her very eyes, Fitzgerald watched as the political sphere transcended legislation into her social
space, women taking on more leadership roles than ever before.
“It was challenging because the only models you had were the older guys you had seen in those roles.”
This backdrop permeates throughout her work as a Daily writer. The articles of Fitzgerald’s time span
significant political hallmarks from the Vietnam War opposition to the 1972 US presidential election.
However, a feminist underbelly reigned apparent in this time period, more so than ever before. This
glares prominently from articles that detail neglected sex discrimination claims and the gender wage
gap, to a playful jeering at the concept of a “Playgirl” calendar.
“And so I think The Daily provides an important function both in giving students an opportunity to
express themselves in an organized format, whether it’s, you know, friends or online. And the flip side
of that, I think it’s important for students to have their voices represented on campus.”
These very ideas ring true throughout Fitzgerald’s contemporary work. Crediting The Daily for her
internships and jobs in the news industry, the writing topics she embraced at the time still follow her.
Her upcoming 2020 novel centers itself on a group of Ann Arbor women she wrote about in The Daily
in the ’70s who stood up against sexual discimination.
“I think, just being at the University in the years of 1972, ’69 to ’73, those were the years it turned out
to be a very empowering time for women.”
John Papanek — Class of 1973, former Editor-in-Chief of Sports Illustrated, founding editor
for Sports Illustrated for Kids, founding Editor-in-Chief of ESPN The Magazine and Editor-in-
Chief of ESPN.com
“Those were the wild, wild days,” former Daily Sports writer and editor John Papanek said in an
interview with The Daily of his time at U-M. Before Papanek began his extensive career in sports
journalism when he was a freshman at the University.
“The first week was non-stop protests … yelling and screaming and ultimately occupying the
registration building, culminating in police riot busloads of police swinging clubs and getting guys and
gals over the head. That pretty much was my indoctrination to college life,” Papanek explained about
anti-war sentiments of the time. This made for a riveting time to be a journalist at The Daily.
What fascinated Papanek the most, however, was not the politics of the protests, but that all the
chaos came to a complete halt during football Saturdays.

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Thursday, October 3, 2019 — 5B

Truth-telling and devil-shaming: Profiling The Daily




Daily Community Culture Editor

Daily Arts Writer

Daily Arts Writer



“I quickly discovered that the typical graduate
students were not the most interesting people on
Earth, but The Daily was full of interesting people, so
that’s the place I tended to gravitate toward.”


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