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The Surprising History of The Daily CollegianThe history of the Pennsylvania State University’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian, is more surprising and controversial than Collegian alums might imagine. The Collegian was not always the publication we know today; it began its journey in controversial and difficult times. The good news is the student newspaper has evolved over the past few decades—for the better—and will continue to do so for years to come.

The Daily Collegian dates back to 1887, when it was known as The Free Lance. The paper produced some of the most debated content of its era, quickly making a name for itself around campus. The paper wrote articles in support of Prohibition, which was an extremely divisive issue during the Temperance Movement. Despite pushback and lack of financial support, The Free Lance persevered.

In 1904, the name of the paper was changed to The Penn State Collegian. Fifteen years later, The Penn State Collegian was a mainstay of the collegiate population and had solidified its position as a university publication. Over the next two decades, the paper continued to cover major campus events, such as the 1920 football game against Dartmouth with then-governor William C. Sproul as a speaker.

In September of 1940, The Penn State Collegian was renamed The Daily Collegian, chartered as a non-profit organization for the collegiate newspaper. Shortly after the change, the publication was suspended due to World War II. Once WW2 was won and the paper reinstated in the fall of 1946, the Collegian continued to thrive and received several awards.

One of the first major awards came in 1949, when The Daily Collegian earned a national award from the Associated Collegiate Press. Since then, staff members have regularly earned Collegiate Gold Circle Awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The paper also continues to receive national recognition from publications such as The Princeton Review.

In the summer of 1996, The Daily Collegian was able to launch its first digital project, giving the Penn State community access to breaking news as events unfold. The student newspaper entered a new world of media, which proved to be invaluable as the paper moved into the 21st century.

The fact that student staffers were able to utilize their digital resources has helped contribute greatly to the success of the publication as our world becomes increasingly digital. Throughout the history of The Daily Collegian, being able to adapt with the times is what has kept the student newspaper on the leading-edge. Donations are what make this possible, especially as we transition even further into the digital age.

Excellent coverage and the latest technology led to Collegian staffers receiving a Pacemaker Award from the College Media Association and many other accolades. Their success did not stop with these efforts, as the paper went on to receive many honors throughout the years for outstanding content.

While the university does look forward to the future opportunities for The Daily Collegian, the paper also faces obstacles.

The Daily Collegian staffers often have to use their own equipment to produce content because resources are thin. Using the latest software such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop is also paramount to any news publication, both of which can cost upwards of $200 for a one-year subscription. Students already have to face rising tuition and housing rates, not to mention textbook costs. Without the appropriate financial resources, software can be difficult to acquire for a student newspaper.

The continued support of Collegian alumni helps to provide the necessary tools for a successful collegiate newsroom. You can help to contribute to The Daily Collegian, and in doing so, become a part of its new history and continued success.

Your contribution will support the unpaid student staffers that dedicate their personal and financial resources to The Daily Collegian every day. Donations go toward purchasing licenses for design software, as well as the costs of printing and distribution. With help from former staff members and outside donors, The Daily Collegian can continue to produce award-winning content.


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