Yale celebrated its 300th anniversary over the past year by throwing itself a huge birthday party, complete with a 300-pound cake, a 10-story inflatable bulldog and speeches by each of the last three U.S. presidents. Students, faculty and New Haven community members turned out in droves to witness the festivities.

At the Yale Daily News, the Tercentennial presented a perfect opportunity to produce just the kind of coverage that makes being a college journalist so exciting. Of course, the News sent reporters and photographers to all the major Tercentennial events, and we even streamed several of the speeches directly onto our Web site. But the most interesting work took place behind the scenes. Reporters spent the year investigating the University’s plans to reveal major policy changes, and in the process we broke stories of national importance ranging from Yale’s overhaul of its financial aid policy to the decision to give President George W. Bush an honorary degree at last year’s Commencement.

As the Yale Daily News prepares for another academic year, we look forward not only to continuing our exclusive coverage of Yale and New Haven, but also to a birthday of our very own. The News — America’s oldest college daily newspaper — will celebrate its 125th anniversary this January, and we hope that more staffers than ever will be able to participate in the historic occasion.

This fall, you’ll enter Yale with a tantalizing array of activities open to you, and you should try as many as possible. Whether you have an extensive background in journalism or merely want to learn more about how newspapers work, I strongly encourage you to drop by our building at 202 York Street sometime in September. Each night, a staff of over 100 students works together to produce the paper, a process which takes place entirely independent of University control. Most freshmen start by writing a news or city article, which can be as simple as going to a Master’s Tea or as complex as investigating the politics of Yale’s graduate student unionization efforts. And no matter what story assignment your editor gives, you can be sure that thousands of people will be reading your article in the dining hall the next morning — a guarantee no other student group can make.

As a freshman, you’ll find that one of the best things about the paper is its flexibility — you can report stories, edit copy, design pages, shoot photos, sell ads, or write magazine features. Better yet, you can experiment with any or all of these opportunities in an environment similar to a real newspaper, but geared especially toward teaching and having fun.

If you find journalism to be a passion — as I have in my three years at Yale — you’ll have the chance to join our staff and take on the difficult, important stories that give the News its reputation as the best college newspaper in the nation. You’ll meet everyone from the mayor of New Haven to the president of Yale to student leaders, and you’ll quickly discover the tremendous respect the paper’s name commands on campus and in the community.

Those at Yale know that the News is far more than a college newspaper. It is a source of entirely objective information for all of Yale, a forum for editorials and letters debating controversial issues on campus, and a constantly-updating record of the University’s history.

I hope you’ll all discover this amazing place for yourselves soon — just come by the building sometime in the fall. As has been the case for 125 years, we’ll be here every night.

E-mail managing@yaledailynews.com if you would like to become involved with the Yale Daily News.