The Pitt News celebrates 100 years of student journalism

By Liz Navratil

For a century now, Pitt students have skipped class, deprived themselves of sleep and hustled to… For a century now, Pitt students have skipped class, deprived themselves of sleep and hustled to make deadlines so they could provide you with the University’s news.

The Pitt News marked the 100th anniversary of its debut issue yesterday and will hold a formal celebration during homecoming weekend next month.

The paper premiered as The Pitt Weekly on Sept. 26, 1910. News that day included a note suggesting freshmen “learn the football yells as soon as possible” and advising students that the Engineering and Mines building had been renamed Thaw Hall and State Hall, a change that “is much more dignified and is a fitting compliment to a staunch admirer of the University.”

The paper produced an issue once a week until Sept. 20, 1932, when students woke up to a newspaper called The Pitt ?????. Twice-weekly publication began that year, but the staff didn’t know what to call the paper.  So they held a contest in which students competed to name it.

“The Board has named, named and renamed, but to no avail … a name significant of the semi-weekly has failed to appear out of the maze of suggested titles and names,” the staff wrote when it announced the contest.

Graduate student Milton C. Krochmal won $10, the equivalent of about $160 today, when he submitted the winning name: The Pitt News.

The paper gradually began producing issues more frequently and went daily in 1997, when it began producing the Impulse weekly entertainment magazine on Fridays. Impulse won the highest award in the prestigious Associated Collegiate Press’s Pacemaker competition.

In November 1999, it dropped the magazine and began producing a more traditional Friday issue in an effort to produce “in-depth news, exciting sports and provocative opinions five days a week.”

Around the same time, The Pitt News began a five-year legal battle that would eventually win the paper back its right to publish ads for alcohol, which the paper had done for many years before a 1996 state law banned it. The paper argued that a state ban on alcohol advertisements in college publications violated its First Amendment rights.

“The issue was whether the government can make it a crime to publish information,” Vic Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the paper, said at the time.

The Pitt News set a precedent again last year when it used the social media site Twitter to break news about the G-20 Summit, outpacing professional papers such as the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review.

Allegheny County Council recognized The Pitt News at a meeting earlier this month, saying that it filled a niche by providing an independent voice for students.

A centennial edition recounting more Pitt News history will hit stands Oct. 29.

Alumni are invited to stop by an open house in our office, 434 William Pitt Union, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 29. The Pitt Alumni Association’s Homecoming Welcome Back Reception, held in the Cathedral of Learning from 6 to 8:30 p.m. that night, will have a Pitt News theme, and copies of old issues will be on display throughout the Nationality Rooms.

Two days later, on Oct. 31, former Editor-in-Chief Scott MacLeod will speak at a brunch for current and former Pitt News staff members from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. MacLeod, a correspondent for Time Magazine, currently works in Cairo.