Back in 1878, no college journalist would have denied that the Yale Daily News was the finest college publication in the country. But by late 1985, East Germany had begun to decline, and so had the oldest commie — er, college — daily. Its utterly oblivious and incompetent desk editors, long suspected of sniffing more than just news, were failing to break such stories as “Yale Hires New President” and “Meteor Hits Harkness Tower.”
Dissatisfied with such a dreary journalism scene, Steve Lange Ranzini ’86 and Richard So ’87 founded the Yale Herald on Valentine’s Day, 1987. Almost immediately, this young upstart supplanted the grandfather Daily News as the campus favorite. Today, the Daily has almost as many readers as Good Housekeeping does among high school boys.
Despite the constant ribbing that passes between Herald and Daily loyalists, the two papers are not actually competitors. The Daily keeps students abreast of breaking news, while the Herald, as the campus weekly, typically runs longer articles with a more analytical tone — think of the difference between the Washington Post and The Nation. In addition, the Herald prides itself on its weekend theater, concert and movie reviews. Unfortunately for Yale’s aspiring performers, our arts commentary is so good that students often skip the show and stay in their rooms to read the paper.
Whether you decide to work for the Herald or the Daily, you are not expected to arrive with Pulitzer-level skills. When I started at the Herald freshman year, I knew I liked basketball but hadn’t written much besides high school essays. One year later, after a bit of coaching from my editors, I was sitting in the stands at a local high school interviewing people for a cover story about the history of basketball in New Haven; a year after that, I became editor in chief.
Along the way, I met countless interesting people. Whether I was interviewing a University administrator, a local merchant or a student running for a Yale College Council position, working as a journalist brought me out of my academic cocoon and put me in touch with the surrounding community. Some of the most special people I met were those toiling alongside me in the Herald office. Amid all the debris in our cozy, two-room home — the crumpled faxes, old issues, soggy coffee cups and drunken senior editors — are what we call “wall quotes,” quips from editors past and present, memories that transpired as we stayed up through the wee hours of Thursday night to put out a paper we could be proud of.
Kate Moran ’02 was editor in chief of the Yale Herald last year.