Zucker: The News from out here

In September of 1974 I began working at the Briton Hadden Memorial Building. Raymond Wong and Charles Kaplan were the co-publishers who hired me. On my very first morning at the News Christopher Buckley, who had been working on the Yale Daily News Magazine all night, opened the door for me and introduced himself and he and his crew left to go to Patricia’s for breakfast. I was then asked if I had a car so that I could drive to Hartford and deliver our nonprofit incorporation papers to the Secretary of the State’s Office. That was day one.

I was replacing Francis Donahue as Business Manager. Francis had been working at the Yale Daily News since he was 15 and had just retired in the spring after 51 years. He pointed out that there was only one plug at the desk in the business office and that was for a lamp. Even though the Yale Daily News had one of the first telephones in New Haven in 1878, the News still only had three lines into the building in 1974.

Francis was a wonderful mentor to me in those early days. He knew all of the people I needed to do business with to keep things going on an even keel. But things were changing rapidly at the Yale Daily News, including the addition of women, who had joined the staff as soon as Yale opened its doors to them.

The Daily had recently begun using a new typesetting machine called a Compugraphic. Typists would input the stories and a ticker tape of inch-wide paper would be fed into the machine and the type would appear in columns. These would be pasted up on layout sheets along with headlines, captions, advertisements and other graphics. These would then be made into negatives by George Thompson, the lithographer, and he would drive these negatives to the printer. George was the prod that helped the News get out on time every day. Color in the paper or on any ads was rather rare in those days and the layering of ads or type with color would be additional work for George.

One of the most important jobs I had in 1974 was identifying all of the Yale Daily News’ living alumni. The News was approaching its 100th birthday and we were beginning to plan a centennial event for 1978. I worked with Alumni Records, and with the board photos and mastheads from the bound volumes. I tried to find every living alumnus. The Centennial was a really nice event and many people who had not returned to Yale for their class reunions came to celebrate the Yale Daily News in Commons. A book, One Hundred Years of the Yale Daily News, was also produced. It contained all of the board photos and lists up to the 1978 board and lots of important stories from over the years. There were also interviews and remembrances.

Part of the plan for the 100th included establishing a foundation to oversee the restoration and upgrade of the Briton Hadden Memorial Building and so the OCD Foundation, Inc. was born. The funds for repairing and restoring and upgrading the building came through a drive for the 100th anniversary. We raised the needed funds and established an endowment for the upkeep and upgrading of equipment at the Yale Daily News. Alumni continue to support this endowment. The general manager of the News updates the YDN Alumni list through Alumni Records and the News staff sends out a twice-yearly newsletter which includes a pledge envelope.

The renovations were completed in 1982. These included new typesetting and lithography equipment but did not include computers. Computers were added a few years later when Apple came out with that wonderful SE. The News bought 30 of them for editing. Of course, Apple kept improving their products and soon we had Apple II machines in the production room and SEs for the reporters and for the business office.

In 2003 the 125th anniversary was celebrated with a weekend of stimulating panel discussions. The panelists were some of the News’ distinguished alumni. During the weekend there was lots of interaction at the Briton Haddon Building and a great banquet in Commons. There were about 700 people at that dinner and each and every one received the 125th Anniversary Book. Alumni came from around the globe to help celebrate the News’ long and continuing history. People from the 1940s and those of the 21st century found that their common purpose and home was the glue that kept them coming back to the News and Yale.

When I retired as general manager of the Yale Daily News in the spring of 2007, I believed that the Yale Daily News was and is the best-equipped college daily newspaper in the country. This is with thanks and gratitude to these wonderful and caring alumni. The News is now totally digital and the Web site has been updated. The University Library is digitizing the archives so that the file can be searched from anywhere.

I always feel the News should do more, such as having more contact with and outreach to its alumni and the selling of photos and classified ads through the Web site. From out here in retirement I really enjoy reading the paper and the updates online as well as getting the News at Nine and the Weekly Wrap-Up. It gives me great pleasure to think back on those wonderful years spent in the Briton Hadden Memorial Building and to know the there will always be a Yale Daily News to keep a historical record of what is happening at Yale.

Susan Zucker managed the business office of the News from 1974 to 2007.

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