A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955
Bruin Spirit vs. Council Power: Part 1
by George Garrigues
Printed edition © 1970, 1997
Internet Edition © 2000, 2001
All rights reserved, but you are welcome to download electronic copies, send e-copies to your friends or make printouts for yourself.
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Preface, Contents, List of Editors, Bibliography and Index
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5B. The Decade of the Thirties (1929-1940)
"From college newspapers in widely separated parts of the country comes the advance news of a campus Red-Scare to be conducted on a nation-wide basis . . . The motives of the chief scarer, the Hearst string of newspapers, are still obscure . . . "
The spirit of the Daily Bruin
was born early. It evolved from hard work and cooperation among students
working together on a common task. A beginning reporter recognized the
birth of the spirit in 1919:
Dear Fire Brand:And the spirit developed.
I simply cannot study. I write for the Cub Californian. There is always so much fun going on in that little office that I cannot do a thing while there. Moreover, I cannot leave once I find myself there. But worse than that, I cannot stay away from there. FAILING. (CC, 10/31/19.)
The California Grizzly has finished its first semester as a daily publication, a program the success of which was ominously overcast with doubt in September. It grew, amid travail and confusion, into its new quarters, a circumstance which was endured by the staff with great fortitude and amazing cheerfulness. The incessant demand for production left little time for effective organization, and much depended upon the individual for the successful answer to the dominant question, "Can we handle a daily?"
That question has received its answer; in the answer are involved other problems, which remain for succeeding generations to solve . . . their solution depends upon those qualities . . . which persist from year to year in the men and women who compose the staff . . . (CG, 1/13/26.)
An Editor of the Daily Bruin once said that [its] staff . . . was the most clannish organization in the University. What he meant by this was simply that there was a feeling of natural fellowship and loyalty to the group, gradually built up in each member from . . . [the] first year "beat" to the senior executive job. Working five to six hours every day and often spending the entire night at the print shop, the Bruin boys saw many a sleepless dawn as the final page was rolled and the pressman threw the switch. They worked together, laughed and joked together, and the feeling of mutual loyalty which each one felt greatly resembled the spontaneous understanding which grows up between members of the same family. It involved a feeling of elation at the successes of another or a sense of disappointment when another seemed to miss the breaks. More than ever before, this year's staff has held this same relationship within itself. The staff just assumed that its proper position was squarely behind each of its members. Thus do the Bruin boys regard themselves and thus do they wish to remember the staff. (SoCam, 1934.)
It is a hardy, living spirit that is passed from one generation to the next, there to be nurtured awhile, and again passed on . . . [T]he staff is so loyal and willing, that sometimes, when you have handed them an impossible job and they go and do it, you choke up and feel like you could kiss every one of their perspiring faces . . . the Daily Bruin system and the people in it can handle any task that you can set them to. (Editor Robert Barsky, CDB, 2/11/42 and 5/15/42.)
We knew we could never make [cub reporters] . . . understand the fun we have had working on the paper. That can only be known by someone who has worked with a group of people which starts out by being extremely diversified, but after four years of working, and eating, and relaxing together, finds a common bond in the strong ties which bind them to the organization. (Editor Jo Rosenfield, CB, 2/18/43.)
To the student who picks up The Bruin every morning the staff is an enigma. He or she cannot possibly realize that the paper comes out under the combined efforts of a staff of almost 75 students, . . . who through their love of journalism and their hope of rising on the staff, work as many as 30 hours per week in KH 212, students who work Sunday so that a paper can hit the stands Monday, students who work on holidays so that a paper will come out the day after, students who work until 2 a.m. putting the paper to bed when they have early classes the next morning. (Editor Martin A. Brower, DB, 2/14/51.)
It was this spirit more than any other one thing -- more than radicalism, more than intellectualism, more than liberalism -- that Student Councils had to battle during the entire period from the early Thirties to the establishment of the Communications Board in 1963. The Bruin was a permanent body with a population that shifted every four years; Student Councils, on the other hand, were constituted anew each year. Only rarely did Student Council members have experience accumulated from previous service.
Complaints by the Councils -- and with somewhat different emphases by the Administration -- fell into four main categories: (1) The Bruin was a "closed corporation," and people who didn't fit into the Bruin image failed to get promoted. (2) The Bruin didn't give enough publicity to campus events. (3) Editors used poor news judgment (usually favoring liberal over conservative causes). (4) The Left Wing controlled Bruin feature pages.
These themes were surprisingly enduring, no matter what Council was in power, no matter what staff edited the newspaper.
The Council exercised its control by influencing the Bruin editor and through the appointment of editorial candidates favorable to the Council's philosophy of campus journalism. A third method, control of the purse strings, was not available to Student Councils after 1932, when student financial responsibility was removed from Council jurisdiction and placed with the Board of Control.
During the Twenties, there were few controversies between the Bruin and the Student Council. The Bruin was considered a reflection of the Council, and editors acquiesced with readiness to Council control. The first Council investigation of the student newspaper was in February 1921, when a "letter from Al Knox, protesting negligence of The Cub Californian on a certain small matter, was read and a committee was appointed to look into it." (SEC, 2/17/20.)
At one point, the Council felt that the campus newspaper was not giving enough coverage to its activities, and in 1921 it directed "that a reporter from the Cub whose presence regularly at meetings be required, shall be publicity for the Council." (SEC, 3/17/21.) In 1925, a motion was passed that the "editor of the Grizzly, or some other responsible representative to be chosen by the president of the Council, be requested to attend the Council meetings, to write up certain special actions of the Council which they wish to appear in the next day's Grizzly, such reports to be OK'd by the President . . . before being printed in the paper." (SEC, 11/17/25.) Things were so cozy between the newspaper and the Council that the Cub staff decided in 1921 to establish a "new tradition" by presenting a gavel each year to the outgoing student body president (CC, 9/30/21.)
The first major dispute between the
Council and the newspaper lay, typically enough, in the realm of sports,
which Student Councils traditionally considered more sacrosanct than did
most Bruin editors. The Grizzly sports page carried this story on March
NINE; LIONS WIN
Overconfidence, poor spirit, bonehead playing, lack of teamwork, errors, and everything else in the category of sloppy baseball, went together yesterday to give Caddy Works' diamond cavorters their first defeat of the season. Loyola College clamped the Grizzlies down 4-3 on Moore field, incidentally ending their winning streak of seven straight games.
To aggravate Grizzly troubles, Roy Burns was removed from the game in the fourth canto by Coach Works, and the heavy hitting left fielder promptly turned in his suit.
Burns should get over his "peeve" in a couple of days, however. It is merely the case of a star player bucking up against a little discipline, and Burns will learn that the latter is more important . . . (CG, 3/31/26.)
That evening, the Council devoted "considerable discussion" to the article, as well as giving "much unfavorable comment . . . about various other articles which have been published in the Grizzly from time to time." Then it ordered "that the Grizzly editor be instructed not to allow the publication of articles of this sort in the future." (SEC, 3/31/26.)
No sooner said than done. The next story about a Grizzly baseball game, a 6-3 decision over California Bank, carried this concluding paragraph:
The real game the Grizzly squad turned in yesterday indicates the slump experienced the first of this week was only temporary, and the stock of Coach Works' squad has risen several points to its former high level.
The first editors were appointed
by the Student Council "on the recommendation of the Commissioner of Literary
Activities." (SEC, 6/16/20.) When the Publications Board was established
in 1922, the power of recommendation passed to this new body, usually composed
of representatives of the newspaper, the yearbook and the humor magazine
(when there was one), plus appointees of the student body president. Others
who occasionally served were representatives of the Press Club, the Manuscript
Club and the Publicity Bureau. In the early years, the outgoing editor
would make a recommendation of an incoming editor (usually his managing
editor), who would then choose his own staff. The Bruin emphasized that
promotions were made "on the work-up system" (CDB, 1/14/27) and "by seniority
standing" (CDB, 9/29/27).
. . . the staff is promoted to the top position by the incumbents on a basis of merit. The managing editor system prevails, whereby the editor selects his successor from among the most capable candidates on the staff. Since any man or woman on the campus is eligible
. . . , the competition is open to all . . . (CG, 6/6/24.)
The 1930s opened with the first recorded rejection by the Student Council of Publications Board recommendations: The Student Executive Council, or SEC, appointed Charles Olton as managing editor instead of the then-current sports editor, Jeff Kibre, and Herman Platt as sports editor instead of Harold Keene. (SEC, 4/30/30.) It is significant that both of these decisions involved sports -- since this field, as we have seen above, was as touchy in the student political world as any area of Communism or radicalism. Then, Robert K. Shellaby was appointed editor in place of Pub Board's recommendation, William Bradford. (SEC, 1/10/34.)
The next turndown is more surprising, when viewed from a later perspective. Andrew Hamilton, the unanimous recommendation of Publications Board for editor, was rejected in favor of Chandler Harris (CDB, 5/24/34), as a result of some simple fraternity politicking (Harris interview, 1970). Hamilton became the longtime public affairs director for UCLA, and Harris served many years as UCLA's chief public information officer.
Two rejections in the period of one year were a bit too much to swallow, even for SEC. It appointed a committee to "investigate and work out a system of Daily Bruin promotion that would encourage the senior members to remain on the staff." (SEC, 9/19/34.) It was a constructive step, but nothing came of it.
The 1935-36 year was a low spot for Daily Bruin-SEC relations. In fact, it would be hard to choose any other one year in which so much happened to disturb what passed for Kerckhoff Hall serenity. Not only did the student body president resign when he failed to block the appointment of an editor, but the editor himself was later removed from his office by a Council that had grown tired of his independent ways and irritating editorials.
The editor was Gilbert Harrison, named by the Student Council during an all-night session that ended at 5 a.m. It wasn't Harrison, though, who had been the center of that controversy. For once, it was the normally non-controversial business manager nomination, that of Louis Turnoff, which was at issue, settled only when Turnoff was appointed and the Publications Director was instructed to "investigate the entire managerial setup."
Harrison soon found himself at loggerheads with Thomas Lambert, the student body president. Harrison favored international news, in-depth coverage of national issues and quotations from Gertrude Stein. Lambert liked student government and the things it did. Both Harrison and Lambert were brilliant men; Lambert was a Phi Beta Kappa who later became a Rhodes scholar, and Harrison was for a long time the executive secretary of the University Religious Conference before becoming a writer for and then editor of The New Republic. Lambert requested that "the Bruin give the Student Council meetings more publicity so that the student body might know how the affairs of the University are being handled." (SEC, 10/9/35.)
Apparently action was not taken to Lambert's satisfaction. Perhaps Harrison was too busy working on an anti-ROTC campaign that had raised the ire of Ernest Carroll Moore (whose title by then had been changed to Provost). Harrison presented a resolution to the Student Council asking for elimination of compulsory ROTC, leading Dean of Men Earl J. Miller to read a statement at a Council meeting from Moore declaring that "this country is a fat lamb in a world of wolves, and compulsory military training for that reason is necessary." (SEC, 12/11/35.) No matter, the resolution passed, 9-4-1.
At the end of the fall semester,
Harrison was reappointed for the spring term, as was then the custom. Lambert
resigned, claiming that the Bruin had obstructed rather than buttressed
the ASUC's program and that
. . . in his estimation the standard which determines 'news value' should be whether the news aids the work of student activities. He deplored the amount of space which was given in the paper to international news at the expense of campus news . . . the only ground upon which he would retain his office was the setting up by the Council of a principle of 'news value' by which the importance of news was made relevant to its effect on the successful workings of the A.S.U.C. (CDB, 1/16/36.)
Lambert rescinded his resignation after he and Dean Miller had agreed to "formulate some by-laws which would make clear the relations between the Student Council and the Daily Bruin . . . with the recommendation that the committee make clear the authority of the Council over Daily Bruin policy." (SEC, 1/21/36.) He said "the conditions that made . . . [his resignation] necessary have been removed," but an unsympathetic Student Council replied that the conditions hadn't been removed and they remained the same as they were when Lambert quit. But the president came back to serve out his term.
Harrison continued in his term, too.
He wrote editorials such as this one:
SCENE: Editor's office.
TIME: Past time.
PERSONNAE: He, me.
Knock at the door
HE: Hullo, (crosses knees) there have been some complaints about the Bruin.
HE: You know, a few things . . . feature page, the foreign stuff, world in view page, once in a while a sports column . . .
HE: Nothing serious, (rubbing his chin) a few things . . . Off Campus. Oh yeh that Gertrude Stein stuff on the second page, that poetry and all that . . .
HE: And the editorial column (lifting up pants leg, scratches knee) you know, nothing serious . . .
ME: Uh Huh
HE: A few complaints, people come up to me and tell me. The Olympic games and R.O.T.C. (smiles) And, uh, about paying football players (leans back in chair, arms folded.)
ME: Uh Huh
HE: But the main objection is that the editorials get kind of partial.
ME: Precisely. (CDB, 3/3/36.)
Later the same month, Harrison
suggested that the students should be given "back to the University." ("The
reverse of the demand then and now," he recalled in his 1970 Questionnaire.)
This would have been done by abolishing most service honorary societies
and by hiring professionals to plan such events as all-campus dances and
a vastly extended program of intramural sports.
Play would be its own reward . . . If there is a student paper, it should be managed by students who have graduated from the University and who are hired for this purpose, who work at regular hours and who receive regular salary.
Such a system of significant activities could save very much money, very much time. It would eventually get rid of students who came to the University only to run for offices, and it might eventually substitute for the concept of shallow political advancement now in vogue, a concept of genuine intellectual achievement. (CDB, 3/18/36.)
The Student Council removed Harrison as editor seven days later on the grounds he "only presented one side of the question," he "restricted the contents of Grins and Growls" and he used "other parts of the paper outside of the editorial column for the furtherance of his own views." (SEC, 3/25/36.) "The staff backed me up and we went on strike," Harrison wrote 34 years later (though the paper continued to appear and there was no mention of a strike in contemporary records). "It blew over very quickly. We kissed and made up and The Bruin went on being written by its staff. Moral of the story: Congress can take over the railroads, but Congressmen can't run the engines." (Questionnaire.) SEC reinstated Harrison on March 27 on his assurance that he would print "both sides of the question." (SEC, 3/27/36.)
The battle wasn't over, though. Harrison
went on writing editorials and running his Christian Science Monitor news
roundups. He attacked the practice of funneling money to athletes through
phony jobs at which they were inept and inefficient:
In Which You Have Salary,
Honor, and No Work . . .
College students who receive 50 cents an hour should do something for their pay.
They should do some kind of work.
Or they should lend color to the scenery.
But about the only thing that most of the football players really do who get 50 cents an hour for going thru ["Simplified spelling" was in vogue on several newspapers at this time] the motions of keeping Kerckhoff clean is to saunter around as anyone might who held the mortgage to the building . . . (CDB, 5/30/36.)
Finally, the Student Council resolved "that the Daily Bruin, as the official organ of the students of the University, is concerned with the presentation of campus news. It shall give sufficient publicity to all ASUC functions. Failure of the editor . . . to provide such publicity shall constitute a cause for his dismissal." (SEC, 5/21/36.)
Go to the Second Half of This
6B. Bruin Spirit vs. Council Power (1919-1940)
Editor Pryne was willing enough to bow to the Administration on unimportant issues. He gladly agreed with a suggestion by Provost Hedrick to stop printing the words to the California Drinking Song ("Oh, they hadda carry Harry to the ferry . . .") since a Women's Christian Temperance Union unit had complained about it.