Editors Recall Yesterday's News

Robert Buchanan (WCAS40, GJ41)
1939-40 Managing Editor

When the first staff member of the Daily was drafted during the 1939-40 academic year, managing editor Robert Buchanan remembers that the editorial board planted a tree on Deering Meadow -- to be chopped down in commemoration of the first staff member to fall in the war.

The tree stood its ground beyond the war -- a subsequent editorial board changed the original notion and decided to let the tree stand, rededicating it for peace.

Campus news in the late 1930s to early 1940s seemed not much different than news on campus is today: Sports, student opinion and academics formed most of the bulk. Buchanan remembers a "wild idea" he had to profile the contrasting types of professors at Northwestern. Ultimately, the faculty did not support the idea, and the Daily dropped the story.

After serving in the war, Buchanan eventually entered advertising and in 1980 was named executive vice president in charge of U.S. media at J. Walter Thompson. He is now retired.



Mel Hodell (J43, GJ47)
1942-43 Managing Editor

The fraternity and sorority culture at Northwestern was strong in the 1940s, but Mel Hodell never joined a fraternity. "When I became editor, there was some concern about that."

Hodell remembers there was a lot of controversy about pacifists during the war. One particular professor was an outspoken pacifist, and University officials were distressed about it, although they did allow him free speech.

After serving in the war and obtaining a master's degree in journalism, Hodell worked at various daily and weekly newspapers in Illinois, Wisconsin, New York and California. He became a newspaper broker in 1988 and heads Mel Hodell Media Broker Inc. in Montclair, Calif.

Theo Jean Ahrends Kenyon (WCAS44)
1943-44 Managing Editor

Theo Jean Kenyon became the first woman in a succession of female managing editors at the Daily Northwestern as the United States was drawn into World War II.

She remembers, as a freshman on the Daily staff, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. "I got a message to call the Daily immediately. They were calling everyone to go in to help put out a special [edition] because a Northwestern alumnus, Harold Christopher [S41], had been killed."

After becoming managing editor, Kenyon received another surprise visit early one morning. "I was called out of bed by the FBI. One of our editorials was about a black market in gasoline along the North Shore."

The editorial had said it was common knowledge that illegal gas coupons could be purchased among students for a fee during the war period when gas was heavily rationed. When the FBI agents realized they couldn't find out any more from Kenyon, they left.

Kenyon has worked at the Peoria Journal Star since graduating from Northwestern and continues to serve as reporter and feature writer at the newspaper.




Joan Wagner Beck (J45, GJ47), Ruth Moss Buck (WCAS45)
1944-45 Managing Editors

When Joan Wagner Beck succeeded Theo Kenyon as managing editor in fall 1944, the Daily Northwestern debuted an all-female editorial board. Many upperclassmen had been drafted into the war, but younger men continued working as reporters and columnists.

Beck and Buck met in the "cherub" journalism program at the National High School Institute the summer before their last year in high school.

They were roommates their freshman year at Northwestern, and both worked at the Daily. Beck became managing editor in the fall of their senior year but graduated a quarter early. Buck took over from her friend in spring 1945, covering events such as the death of President Roosevelt and the end of World War II.

After graduation, Beck became a distinguished features writer, editor and syndicated columnist at the Chicago Tribune. She died in December 1998.

Buck also worked at the Tribune, starting out as a research assistant for the economics editor, later becoming a reporter, features writer and features editor. She retired in 1997.

Buck says of her friend: "Never does a day pass by when there's something I don't want to tell Joan."




Richard "Dick" Longworth (J57)
1956-57 Editor

During the supposedly quiet 1950s, the Daily Northwestern managed to stir up controversies on campus, according to Richard "Dick" Longworth, editor for the 1956-57 year.

One blowup concerned a fraternity that pledged and then de-pledged a student because he was Asian. The news not only caused an uproar on campus, but because the student was the son of a former Taiwanese government official, the story made it into national newspapers and magazines.

Longworth remembers working out of a Quonset hut -- a temporary half-moon of corrugated metal built on a concrete base -- where "it was freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer" during his freshman year at the Daily.

Longworth, who worked 16 years as a foreign correspondent for United Press International, says his tenure at the Daily was his only experience as an editor. "I am a reporter and writer by nature," he says. Longworth joined the Chicago Tribune in 1976 and is now a senior writer covering international and economic affairs for the paper.




Chuck Remsberg (J58, GJ59)
1956-57 Managing Editor, 1957-58 Editor

Chuck Remsberg succeeded Dick Longworth -- and assumed his fighting spirit -- as editor of the Daily Northwestern for the 1957-58 year.

During this period of athletic futility, Remsberg continued Longworth's call to take Northwestern out of the Big Ten, which obviously never happened. He also pushed for the elimination of the photo and religion requirement from Northwestern's application form, saying it was discriminatory, especially against minority and Jewish students. Ultimately, the administration adopted the idea.

Throughout his tenure, Remsberg encountered no overt interference beyond the occasional complaint from the student government, the administration or the Board of Publications. "The editors had free reign to take the Daily where they wanted it to go," he says.

After graduating from Northwestern, Remsberg ultimately founded Calibre Press Inc. in Northbrook, Ill. He retired last year.




Al From (J65, GJ66)
1964-65 Editor

As news editor of the Daily Northwestern during his junior year in 1963 and 1964, Al From stepped right into a brewing scandal in the Undergraduate Office of Admission. The Daily had been hoping to investigate the admissions policy of Northwestern for racial and religious biases. When From called an official at the admissions office to ask to examine records, the administrator unleashed a tirade of accusations and threats.

"It was a weird deal, because we had absolutely nothing on him," From says. "But he thought that we really had uncovered something, so he went absolutely wild on the telephone."

In another big story, the Daily obtained a campus flier and order form advertising "PokeTutor," a device that hid handwritten notes and revealed them with the movement of a fake wristwatch. "It was like a cheating machine, the size of a pack of cigarettes," From says. The Daily exposed the gadget's Seattle manufacturer in a front-page story and informed the Better Business Bureau, which launched a probe into the issue.

From student journalism, Al From launched a professional political career. Eventually, he worked for Democratic Party senators and became an adviser on inflation to President Carter in 1978. In 1985 From formed the Democratic Leadership Council with the future President Clinton and Vice President Gore. He now heads the DLC in Washington, D.C.




Jack Fuller (J68, H98)
1967-68 Executive Editor

During the tumultuous late 1960s, campuses across the nation erupted in student protests.

"It was a very exciting time, especially from a newspaperman's point of view," says Jack Fuller, executive editor of the Daily in the 1967-68 academic year. "It was also a very awful time. Too many people were under pressure because of the [Vietnam War] draft. It really riveted people's attention."

Yet campus radicalism did not sway Fuller and editor Michael Conway (J68) from objective reporting and coverage, he says. "There were times when we did things that irritated the administration. But you would never have called Mike Conway and me radicals. We weren't as political as we were journalistic."

During Fuller's tenure as executive editor, he also worked as a stringer for the Chicago Daily News in downtown Chicago. "I had 8 a.m. journalism classes that I often didn't get to," he remembers. "One of my professors would occasionally stop down later in the day at the Daily Northwestern office, look in and ask, 'Another miraculous recovery, Mr. Fuller?'"

A year and a half after graduating from Northwestern, Fuller served in the U.S. Army's Vietnam bureau of Pacific Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, and became deputy bureau chief, making staff assignments on coverage.

"Here I was suddenly running a combat news bureau with guys in danger covering battles. There were very hard decisions to make," he says.

Fuller joined the Chicago Tribune as a reporter in 1977. He won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1986 and steadily climbed the company's corporate ladder. Today, he is president/CEO of the Tribune Co.

Fuller has authored six books, including non-fiction and fiction. His newest book is the novel The Best of Jackson Payne (Knopf, 2000).




Steve Twomey (J73)
1972-73 Managing Editor

Steve Twomey says the Daily Northwestern's big crusade during the 1972-73 academic year was to obtain a list of all property owned by the University.

"We thought it was extremely important to expose all of Northwestern's holdings, to see if the University was investing money in things that seemed immoral," he says. In fact, the Daily did manage to put the list of University holdings together and published it on the front page.

"We presented it more as a revelation than it really was," Twomey says. "What we did was colored by the Vietnam War. It was a turbulent time."

At that point, operations emanated from a "terribly cluttered, rabbit warren of a place" -- one of the houses on Sheridan Road across from Deering Meadow. Twomey remembers the rituals of production more than anything else. "We had these amazing runs to the print shop [in west suburban Hinsdale] at night to supervise the printing and production. There was always the inevitable stop at some Dunkin' Donuts on the way back," he says.

After working at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 14 years, Twomey joined the Washington Post where he worked as a general assignment reporter, feature writer, editor and metro columnist. He now is enterprise editor for the metro section.



David Freedman (J81)
1980-81 Managing Editor

In the early 1980s, a decade after having moved to the third floor of Norris University Center, the Daily staff was still using "close to 19th century production practices," according to David Freedman, managing editor for 1980 and 1981. "We were banging out articles and laying them out until 2 a.m. every day, hoping the machines didn't break down."

At the time, the Daily received news on teletype contraptions that clattered out wire stories from United Press International and had bells on them that clanged whenever top stories came in. This became background noise for Freedman, who sat at a desk next to the machines.

His most memorable experience came in 1981. On Jan. 20, the bells on the teletype machines clanged at the loudest volume -- President Reagan had been inaugurated. One minute later, the bells rang again, signaling that the U.S. hostages in Iran had been released.

After graduating from Medill, Freedman pursued his interest in constitutional law. He is now in Paris as a partner in the Chicago-based law firm of Baker & McKenzie and hosts briefing sessions and barbecues every fall for Medill graduate students in the Global Journalism program.



Stephan Benzkofer (J91)
1990-91 Editor
Marjorie Lipsey Benzkofer (J91)
1990-91 Managing Editor

Stephan Benzkofer's most vivid memory as editor of the Daily was covering the Persian Gulf War of 1990 and 1991.

"We had a special war editor and we tried to get a special graphic element to the coverage," he says. "There was much discussion on how we should cover the protests and the war itself in relation to how we understood the Vietnam War was covered. But looking back, it was such a different war and a short war."

But the Gulf War was not the only notable experience that year. There was also Benzkofer's budding romance with managing editor Marjorie Lipsey.

Benzkofer and Lipsey worked together for the first time as sophomores covering a story for the Daily about classroom security. The next time they worked together as a team they were editor and managing editor of the newspaper.

"Stephan and I worked very well as a team," says Lipsey (now Benzkofer). "We would argue politics and news standing in the hall. People must have suspected something more then. They were clued into it before we were. ... He would walk me home every night, and one night he kissed me."

The couple married in 1994 and now live in Chicago, where Stephan works as Sunday news editor for the Chicago Tribune and Marjorie as vice president for the public relations firm Fleishman Hillard.









Editorial staff photos courtesy of Syllabus unless otherwise specified


Cheryl Dahle (J93)
1992-93 Editor

Cheryl Dahle had a surprise waiting for her when she returned to campus after winning a William Randolph Hearst Foundation writing competition in San Francisco in 1993. The editorial staff of the Daily Northwestern had put together a mock page of the "Dahle Northwestern" just for her.

"Pretty hilarious," says Dahle. "We always had a good time at Daily parties handing out 'Tired Typewriter' awards -- the equivalent of dubious achievement awards. When I looked at my transcript senior year, there were classes on it that I actually did not remember taking, but I could name every story that I ever wrote for the Daily."

Those stories include several in-depth investigative pieces. One of them was about Dance Marathon, which owed thousands of dollars in back taxes because the group had never filed properly for nonprofit status. "There were people who thought we shouldn't have investigated Dance Marathon because it served good causes, but to us there was definitely an issue of mismanagement and misrepresentation. As a result of the story, the DM team got their act together and filed the proper paperwork."

Another controversy swirled around the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Northwestern dropping its escort service, which previously had ROTC volunteers walking female students home at night for free. In its place, the University set up a shuttle bus service, which did not offer door-to-door escorts and had limited dropoff places that were poorly lit.

The Daily ran a scathing editorial about the issue -- which later won an Illinois College Press Association editorial of the year award -- and a few days later the administration set up a full, free escort service with work-study students.

In 1997 Dahle joined Fast Company, a work/lifestyle magazine, as Web editor. She became a senior writer nine months later and recently moved to San Francisco to help the company open its West Coast bureau.

Chantal Liu (J01) is an editorial intern for Northwestern magazine.