For 100 years, it has always been a place where you could make a glaring mistake, embarrass the guy in charge and still keep your job.
The University of Utah newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle, has been going strong for a century.Unlike many of its counterparts at colleges and universities across the country, the student newspaper, known as the Chrony, has been free of administration ties. It has been written, edited and printed by the students.
Last week, when the Chronicle published its 100th anniversary edition, it was an observance of a century of publication in the true tradition of freedom of the press, although at times the freedom of an irreverent press.
"One of the things that all old editors are proud of is that it was really our newspaper. The students controlled it," said Ernie Ford, 1960 editor-in-chief and now assistant news director at KDFW, the Dallas CBS affiliate.
Parry D. Sorensen, the 1934 editor-in-chief, agrees.
"I thought I knew more about the U. than the president, George Thomas. When I got out, I could see what a good president George Thomas had been. I wrote him a letter to that effect several years later," Sorensen said.
In a ironic twist, Sorensen, who went on to serve as U. public relations director and as assistant to several U. presidents, later had the dubious honor of responding to complaints about the Chronicle. There were many from irate parents and Utahns during the turbulent '60s.
Sorensen, now a U. communications professor, said every Relief Society member of one Salt Lake ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote President James C. Fletcher attacking the Chronicle's actions.
"People couldn't understand why the administration didn't censor the paper. I told them we were protecting freedom of speech in an academic environment, and we would defend their (students') right to say what they wanted, even though we didn't agree with them," Sorensen remembered.
Despite the pains that the Chronicle occasionally inflicted, Sorensen never wanted to see the heavy hand of the administration rein in the students.
"I can't think of more than two or three times that, if I had the power to do so, I'd tell the Chronicle to back off on some story," Sorensen said.
From 1965 to 1973, Ford, who was then assistant city editor at The Salt Lake Tribune, was the Chronicle adviser. With a part-time appointment in the U. journalism department, he critiqued the paper but did not control it.
"I remember the students making all the same mistakes that I did when I was an editor. . .I never told them what to do. I suggested ways for them to make the paper better," said Ford, who is national president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Such baptism by journalistic fire honed many journalists working in Utah and in the media across the country, Ford pointed out.
Fourteen current Deseret News staffers, for example, started their journalism careers at the Chrony.
Dirk Facer, Chronicle editor-in-chief in its centennial year, believes students benefit tremendously from their autonomy.
"We make mistakes, learn from them and move on. We pride ourselves in doing the best job we can. We work awfully hard at it," said Facer, who admits his studies suffer from the eight- to 12-hour days at the Chronicle.
The U. senior thinks the Chronicle's liberal image is overstated. He characterizes it as the hometown newspaper of the U. campus community.
"The Chronicle's niche is trying to cover the U. of U. community better than anyone else," Facer said.
The student said the 1991 Chronicle won't run everything, but it does continue years of precedent with its wide-open editorial policy. The newspaper allows the spectrum of political thought, ideas and philosophies.
"I think everybody benefits from that. People may not agree with what's in the Chronicle every day, but they pick up and read it. It's fun reading it. It's fun doing it," Facer said.
From the U. to . . .
What happens to old Chronicle editors? Many do go into journalism, but others have devoted their lives to politics, law, business and church leadership positions. Here are some former Chronicle editors and what happened to them after graduation.
Milton Bennion 1895-96 Educator
Joseph J. Cannon 1896-97 Deseret News editor
J. Reuben Clark 1897-98 LDS Church apostle
George Ott Romney 1912-13 BYU football coach
Herbert Schiller 1915-16 Judge, law professor
C. Dean Dinwoody 1921-22 U.S. News and World Report editor
Dilworth S. Woolley 1926-27 State senator
Arthur C. Deck 1927-28 Salt Lake Tribune editor
James K. Knudsen 1929-30 Interstate commerce commissioner
Earl Glade Jr. 1931-32 KBYU manager
Parry Sorensen 1934-35 U. administrator
Hays Gorey 1940-41 Time Magazine reporter
Robert Cutler 1944-45 Newspaper Agency Corp. director
Wilbur Jarvis III 1946-47 Time Magazine reporter
Milton Hollstein 1947-48 U. journalism professor
David Bigler 1949-50 Public relations executive
Desmond J. Barker 1951-52 Advertising executive
Manny Floor 1956-57 Businessman
Ernie Ford 1960-61 TV news editor
Maggie Larson 1965-66 Gov. Matheson's press secretary
Ralph Mabey 1967-68 Attorney, bankruptcy judge
Angelyn N. Hutchinson 1969-70 Deseret News education writer
Heidi S. Swinton 1970-71 Author
Darrell Leo 1971-72 Travel magazine editor
Bill Marling 1972-73 English professor
Rick Hall 1977-78 Deseret News city editor
Bart Barker 1979-80 County commissioner