The Harvard Crimson

The Harvard Crimson

name = The Harvard Crimson

type = Daily newspaper
caption = The front page of The Harvard Crimson on February 22, 2006
owners = The trustees of The Harvard Crimson
format = Broadsheet
foundation = 1873
headquarters = Cambridge, Massachusetts
website = []

"The Harvard Crimson", the daily student newspaper of Harvard University, was founded in 1873. [cite book | last = Brubacher
first = John S.
authorlink =
coauthors = Willis Rudy
year = 1997
title = Higher Education in Transition
publisher = Transaction Publishers
location =
id = ISBN 1-56000-917-9
, p. 137: "After the Civil War... on almost every campus a publication was established which modeled its form, content, and purpose on regular daily newspapers. The "Yale Daily News," first to be founded, is still in operation. The "Harvard Crimson" began in 1873 as a more newsy rival of "The Advocate." Ten years later, it merged with a competitor to become a daily."
] It is the only daily newspaper in Cambridge, Massachusetts, [Massachusetts Newspapers [] lists two other Cambridge papers--The Tech, which is a biweekly paper, and The Cambridge Chronicle, which is a weekly.] and is run entirely by Harvard College undergraduates. Many Crimson alumni have gone on to careers in journalism, and some have won Pulitzer Prizes.

About "The Crimson"

Any student who volunteers and completes a series of requirements known as the "comp" is "elected" an "editor" of the newspaper. [Several Harvard student groups, including the Harvard Lampoon and Harvard Advocate, use the term "comp" to refer to their training and selection process of new members. The term is often considered an abbreviation for "competition," although Crimson editors say that their use of the word "comp" is an abbreviation for "competency," emphasizing the training aspect of the comp.] Thus, all staff members of "The Crimson"—including writers, business staff, photographers, and graphic designers—are technically "editors." (If an editor makes news, he or she is referred to in the news article as a "Crimson editor," which, though important for transparency, also leads to odd attributions. A particularly laughable one might be something along the lines of a reference such as 'former President John F. Kennedy '40, who was also a Crimson editor, ended the Cuban Missile Crisis.') Editorial and financial decisions rest in a board of executives, collectively called a "guard," who are chosen for one-year terms each November by the outgoing guard. This process is referred to as the "turkey shoot" or the "shoot." The unsigned opinions of "The Crimson Staff" are decided at tri-weekly meetings that are open to any Crimson editor (except those editors who plan to write or edit a news story on the same topic in the future).

"The Crimson" is one of the few college newspapers in the U.S. that owns its own printing presses. At the beginning of 2004 "The Crimson" began publishing with a full-color front and back page, in conjunction with the launch of a major redesign. The Crimson also prints several other publications on its presses.

Many undergraduate editors call The Crimson "The Crime," a 1950s nickname that has gained currency in recent years.

"The Crimson" has a rivalry with the "Harvard Lampoon," which it refers to in print as a "semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine." [Harvard Crimson, February 01, 2006, [ Young Rich pens book deal] , is one example of this running joke: "Penning books in the humor category seems fitting because Rich, as the statement takes care to mention, is the president of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine." ] The two organizations occupy buildings within less than one block of each other; interaction between their staff has included pranks, vandalism, and even romance. [cite news
title=WEDDINGS: Molly Confer, John Aboud III
work=New York Times
An example of a Crimson-Lampoon romance that ended in a 'rumble on the prairie' and marriage.

"Crimson" alumni include Presidents John F. Kennedy of the Class of 1940 (who served as a business editor) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (who served as president of the newspaper), Class of 1904. Writer Cleveland Amory was president of "The Crimson;" when Katharine Hepburn's mother asked him what he planned to do after college, he says he replied teasingly that "once you had been president of "The Harvard Crimson" in your senior year at Harvard there was very little, in after life, for you." [cite book
last = Amory
first = Cleveland
year = 2002
title = The Best Cat Ever
publisher = Back Bay
location =
id = ISBN 0-316-08978-8
p. 100

Currently, "The Crimson" publishes three weekly pullout sections in addition to its regular daily paper: A Sports section on Mondays, a magazine called "Fifteen Minutes" on Thursdays, and an Arts section on Fridays.

"The Crimson" is a nonprofit organization that is independent of the university. All decisions on the content and day-to-day operations of the newspaper are made by undergraduates. The student leaders of the newspaper employ several non-student staff, many of whom have stayed on for many years and have come to be thought of as family members by the students who run the paper.


Early years

"The Harvard Crimson" was one of many college newspapers founded shortly after the Civil War and describes itself as "the nation's oldest continuously published daily college newspaper," although this fact is hotly contested among other college newspapers. [" [ About the Harvard Crimson] ," Harvard Crimson Web site] [Because many college newspapers were founded at almost the same time, there is scope for many competing claims of being oldest or first. The Bowdoin Orient, founded in 1871, also claims to be the "oldest continuously-published college weekly in the United States". The Yale Daily News claims to be the "Oldest College Daily" in the United States. The "Columbia Daily Spectator" , founded in 1877, claims to be the second-oldest college daily. The "Brown Daily Herald", established in 1866 and daily since 1891, claims to be the second-oldest college newspaper and fifth-oldest college daily. The "Cornell Daily Sun", launched in 1880, claims to be the "oldest independent college newspaper." "The Dartmouth" of Dartmouth College, which opened in 1843 as a monthly, calls itself the oldest college newspaper, though not the oldest daily, and makes a claim to institutional continuity with a local eighteenth-century paper called the "Dartmouth Gazette".]

"The Crimson" traces its origin to the first issue of "The Magenta", published January 24, 1873 despite strong discouragement from the Dean. The faculty of the College had suspended the existence of several previous student newspapers, including the "Collegian", whose motto "Dulce et Periculum" ("sweet and dangerous") represented the precarious place of the student press at Harvard University in the late nineteenth century. "The Magenta's" editors, undeterred, politely declined Dean Burney's advice and moved forward with a biweekly paper, "a thin layer of editorial content surrounded by an even thinner wrapper of advertising."

The paper changed its name to "The Crimson" in 1875 when Harvard changed its official color by a vote of the student body—the announcement came with a full-page editorial announcing, "Magenta is not now, and ... never has been, the right color of Harvard." This particular issue, May 21, 1875, also included several reports on athletic events, a concert review, and a call for local shopkeepers to stock the exact shade of crimson ribbon, to avoid "startling variations in the colors worn by Harvard men at the races."

"The Crimson" included more substance in the 1880s, as the paper's editors were more eager to engage in a quality of journalism like that of muckraking big-city newspapers; it was at this time that the paper moved first from a biweekly to a weekly, and then to a daily in 1883.

Twentieth century

The paper flourished at the beginning of the twentieth century with the acquisition of its own (and current) building in 1915, the purchase of "Harvard Illustrated Magazine" and the establishment of the editorial board in 1911. The "Illustrated's" editors became "Crimson" photographers, and thereby established the photographic board. The addition of this and the editorial board brought the paper to become, in essence, the modern "Crimson". The newspaper's president no longer authored editorials single-handedly, and the paper took stronger editorial positions.

The 1930s and 1940s were dark years for "The Crimson"; reduced financial resources and competition from a publication established by ex-editors meant serious challenges to the paper's viability. In 1943, the banner on the paper read "Harvard Service News" and the stories focused almost exclusively on Harvard's contribution to the war effort. Under the authority of so-called wartime administrative necessity, alumni discouraged the "Service News" from editorializing. The paper was administered during the war by a board of University administrators, alumni, and students. [citation needed]

In 1934 the Crimson defended a proposal by Hitler's press secretary, Ernst F. Sedgwick Hanfstaengl to donate to Harvard a prize scholarship to enable a Harvard student to attend a Nazi university. The Harvard Corporation voted unanimously to refuse the offer, "We are unwilling to accept a gift from one who has been so closely identified with the leadership of a political party which has inflicted damage on the universities of Germany through measures which have struck at principles we believe to be fundamental to universities throughout the world." The Crimson defended it, "That political theories should prevent a Harvard student from enjoying an opportunity for research in one of the world's greatest cultural centers is most unfortunate and scarcely in line with the liberal traditions of which Harvard is pardonably proud." [Schlesinger, Andrew (2004-11-18), “ [ The real story of Nazi's Harvard visit] ,” "Boston Globe".]

Post-war growth

The paper went back to its civilian version in 1946, and as the Army and Navy moved out of Harvard, "The Crimson" grew larger, more financially secure, more diversified, and more aware of the world outside the campus during the early Cold War era than its pre-WWII predecessor had been.

The paper, although financially independent and independent of editorial control by the Harvard University administration, was under the University's administrative control insofar as it was composed of university students who were subject to the university's rules. Radcliffe women on staff were forced to follow curfews to which Harvard men were not subject, and that interfered greatly with the late hours required in producing a newspaper. Throughout the 1950s, "The Crimson" and various university officials exchanged letters debating these restrictions. "Crimson" editors pushed for later curfews for their female writers, who grew increasingly important in day-to-day operations. Under president Phillip Cronin '53, women became staff members rather than Radcliffe correspondents.

"Crimson" writers were involved in national issues, especially when anti-communist investigative committees came to Harvard. Future Pulitzer prize-winning writer Anthony Lukas' stories (most notably, an interview with HUAC witness Wendell Furry) were sometimes picked up by the Associated Press. Not even a staff writer yet, Lukas had arrived at the university with Joseph McCarthy's home number in his pocket. His father was an opponent of McCarthy's and a member of the American Jewish Committee, the group that produced "Commentary" magazine.

Modern-day paper

"The Harvard Crimson, Inc." was incorporated as a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation in 1966; the incorporation was involuntarily revoked, then revived, in 1986. [" [ The Harvard Crimson, Incorporated] ," ID 042426396, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, search by ID 042426396]

In 1991, student reporters for "The Crimson" were the first to break the news that Harvard had selected former Princeton Provost Neil Leon Rudenstine to succeed Derek Bok as President of the university. The reporters, who had learned of a secret meeting in New York, got their confirmation when they approached a surprised Rudenstine on his plane ride back to Boston. The story appeared in an extra bearing the dateline "SOMEWHERE OVER NEW ENGLAND." Resourceful "Crimson" editors repeated the scoop in 2001, beating out national media outlets to report that Lawrence Summers would succeed Rudenstine, and again in 2007, being the first to report Drew Gilpin Faust's ascension to the presidency. []

Throughout the 1990s, there was a great deal of focus on making the staff of the paper more inclusive and diverse. Over time, a diversity committee and a financial aid fund were both instituted to try to correct this problem. Today, some 50 editors participate in the financial aid program.

On January 12, 2004, "The Crimson" printed its first color edition after obtaining and installing new Goss Community color presses. The date also marked the unveiling of a major redesign of the paper itself.

In 2004, "The Crimson" filed a lawsuit against Harvard University to force the Harvard University Police Department to release more complete records to the public. The case was heard before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November 2005. In January 2006, the court decided the case in favor of the University.

In November 2005, the "Crimson" had its records subpoenaed by ConnectU, a firm suing, its better known competitor. "The Crimson" is currently challenging the subpoena, and it has said that it will not comply with ConnectU's demands for documents.

On April 23, 2006, after having received an anonymous tip, "The Crimson" broke the story of plagiarism allegations surrounding Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan and her recently published book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life". [David Zhou, " [ Student’s Novel Faces Plagiarism Controversy] ", "The Harvard Crimson"]

Notable past senior members

*George Abrams, lawyer and businessman []
*Daniel Altman, author and journalist
*Cleveland Amory, writer []
*Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft []
*Michael Barone, television commentator, senior writer for "U.S. News & World Report", author []
*Daniel J. Boorstin, American author and writer and Librarian of Congress []
*Robert O. Boorstin, writer and political advisor []
*Sewell Chan, journalist for "The New York Times"
*Susan Chira, author, foreign editor of "The New York Times" []
*Nicholas Ciarelli, founder and editor of Think Secret []
*Blair Clark, manager of Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign []
*Adam Clymer, author, journalist for "The New York Times" []
*Jonathan Cohn, author, journalist for "The New Republic" []
*Richard Connell, author []
*Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money" []
*Michael Crichton, author []
*E.J. Dionne, Jr., columnist for "The Washington Post" []
*Esther Dyson, digital technology analyst, author []
*Daniel Ellsberg, released the "Pentagon Papers" [,9171,905237,00.html]
*James Fallows, journalist []
*Susan Faludi, author []
*David Frankel, filmmaker []
*Vasugi V. Ganeshananthan, author and journalist
*Mark Gearan, former Peace Corps director []
*George Goodman, a.k.a. "Adam Smith," hosted the Emmy award-winning program "Adam Smith's Money World" on PBS []
*Donald Graham, CEO and chairman of "The Washington Post" Co. []
*C. Boyden Gray, Committee for Justice chairman and White House Counsel to President George H. W. Bush []
*Linda Greenhouse, journalist for "The New York Times" []
*David Halberstam, author []
*Hendrik Hertzberg, journalist for "The New Yorker" []
*David Ignatius, columnist for "The Washington Post" []
*Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., publisher and CEO of "The Washington Post" []
*Peter Kaplan, editor of "The New York Observer" []
*Caroline Kennedy, daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy []
*John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States []
*Mickey Kaus, journalist and political blogger []
*Michael Kinsley, journalist, founding editor of "Slate magazine" []
*Peter Kramer, psychiatrist, author []
*Nicholas D. Kristof, columnist for "The New York Times" []
*Thomas Samuel Kuhn, philosopher and historian of science
*Charles Lane, former editor of "The New Republic" []
*Jennifer 8. Lee, journalist for "The New York Times" []
*Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism []
*Anthony Lewis, author and former columnist for "The New York Times" []
*J. Anthony Lukas, author and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist []
*Charles S. Maier, professor of history at Harvard []
*Bill McKibben, environmentalist, author []
*Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform []
*Mark Penn, chief political strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign []
*Frank Rich, columnist for "The New York Times" []
*Steven V. Roberts, television journalist []
*Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States []
*Scott A. Rosenberg, co-founder of []
*Jack Rosenthal, journalist for "The New York Times" and president of [ The New York Times Company Foundation] []
*David Sanger, journalist for "The New York Times" []
*Whit Stillman, filmmaker []
*Ira Stoll, "New York Sun" executive
*Paul Sweezy, Marxist economist and funder of the "Monthly Review" []
*Evan Thomas, associate managing editor of "Newsweek" []
*Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN []
*Andrew Weil, alternative medicine advocate []
*George Weller, novelist, playwright, Pulitzer prize winning journalist for "The New York Times" and "The Chicago Daily News" []
*Caspar Weinberger, United States Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan []
*Mark Whitaker, Senior Vice President of NBC News, former editor of "Newsweek" []
*Elizabeth Wurtzel, author []
*Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal []
*Robert Ellis Smith, noted journalist and creator of the Privacy Journal []

ee also

*"Harvard Law Record", the student newspaper of Harvard Law School


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