Centennial: Celebrating Daily Trojan through the years

One hundred is big, and we’re not just talking Sesame Street, for-the-sake-of-numbers big.

One hundred years ago, on the way to and from class, faculty, staff and students snatched up a version of this newspaper to stay plugged into current events and campus news. One hundred years ago, students picked up the same ink-stained paper to get the latest in collegiate sports. One hundred years ago, students sat down on campus benches and inside classrooms and flipped through pages of the paper the same way some of you do now (if you’re not on your smartphones or laptops). The only difference is that one century ago the Daily Trojan was brand-new at USC.

Originally published as The Daily Southern Californian in 1912, the DT has burgeoned as USC’s long-standing, primary source of campus news and information. It has also been recognized for its enduring mission: to provide a forum for information, for free and responsible discussion, and for intellectual exploration.

Though discussing and exploring USC-centric issues might come across as a vague endeavor, the reality is complex. Impartial coverage of campus is what we strive for every day. Providing campus news involves bringing light to the good, the bad and the ugly of an institution. As a newspaper, we don’t represent USC; we cover USC.

The DT, from one generation of editors to the next, has encouraged reporters to seek the truth and report it. We do our best to achieve that. If something big happens, we let you know. If there’s something out there we think you should know, we tell you about it.

We do this because we’re passionate not just about journalism, but about USC. DT is, after all, an extracurricular activity open to all students — students committed to the goal of informing the USC community.

So how does all this relate?

To celebrate our centennial, we’re doing two big things. The first is done; you’re looking at it. Flip through our supplement to see how the newsroom has evolved, how the writing has continued to change, who has occupied the newsroom and what types of stories have impacted the university and its students’ lives.

The second will be a yearlong process. To commemorate 100 years of student life, breaking news and USC developments, we will be rolling out one article from the DT archives a week during the 2012-13 academic year to signify relevant moments in our university’s (and paper’s) history that either changed or continue to relate to the USC community.

As part of this project, the DT is instituting a digital collection with USC Libraries. Slated for completion in November, DT issues from 1912 to 2012 will be presented online for browsing, researching and reading. You’ll be able to see what we wrote about and what it all looked like.

Normally, we’re not ones to brag or self-promote, but 100 years is something we’re very proud of. The editor’s office is a treasure trove of journalism awards. Inside, there’s a bookcase, which has had slats removed to create a makeshift trophy case. Within the case, accolades span the last 100 years: Awards range from a 1937 All-American Honor Rating to a first-place 1969 general excellence award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association to the national — highly coveted — Pacemaker Award in 1990-91. And the desk — the one where this is being written — in the editor’s office is full, not of pens, pencils, paper clips or whatever else you might think an editor would have, but its drawers are full of more recent awards, special edition DTs and yellowed sheets of significant clippings.

The DT was there when Upton Sinclair addressed graduates; we were there when then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted his honorary degree; we were there, in 1950, when the era’s beloved mascot,Tirebiter, was declared “dead”; we were there when our own fellow ’SC alumnus, Neil Armstrong, recorded his first steps on the moon; we were there to cover the 1992 L.A. riots; and we were there when President Barack Obama came to campus to rally fellow Trojans.

Point being, we have a history of being there for the university. We were there for our readers one century ago. We’re here now. And for as long as possible, we’re going to have USC covered.