The First Decade: The Pre-Daily Era, 1960-1969

By Jim Drummond
Former Titan Times Editor

Nearly two generations have passed since this newspaper's pre-Daily Titan era, the period from the first issue on Jan. 4, 1960, through the spring semester of 1969.

In this one decade, the student newspaper grew from a two-page, twice-monthly summary of campus news events to a thriving, thrice-weekly journal of news and commentary with lively exchanges from readers on the Letters to the Editor page.

Pouring through the past issues of the then-named Titan Times is like looking at old black-and-white photographs of long-gone family members. The hot lead-molded, tabloid-sized pages speak, some say, of a more innocent time in American society.

From the very beginning, the newspaper's growth in size and frequency of publication reflected the growth of the college, an institution grappling each semester with record-breaking enrollments, constant construction and, of course, the usual parking problems.

The newspaper was the Titan Times, the Titan and, finally, the Daily Titan, as the institution morphed through Orange County State College, Orange State College, California State College at Fullerton and, finally, California State University, Fullerton.

Then--as now--the newsroom was an exciting place to work, a home to many students, as they learned the mechanics of day-to-day jouurnalism, formed lasting friendships and, sometimes, married their co-workers, before taking their first steps into the "real world."

Naturally, early reporters mainly covered college beats--from the first intercollegiate elephant race to the placement of a time capsule behind a granite slab marked "1963" at the ffront entrance to the Letters and Science building, since renamed McCarthy Hall.

The former event, on May 11, 1962, gained nationwide exposure for a fledgling Orange County State, as many print and broadcast media outlets contacted college officials and newspaper editors about a story showcasing old-fashioned, '60s-style student antics.

Elephant races were held for a few more years, but the only remnants of those times are a few small pictures on a wall in the student union, stories and photographs on old library microfilm and brittle Titan Times morgue copies and an elephant as the campus mascot.

Reporters and editors also gained experience covering political events, because all sorts of politicos running for federal, state and local offices stopped by the campus to deliver their stump speeches, including two sitting governors, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan.

The first student protest covered by the newspaper probably was a gathering opposed to the name change from Orange State College to California State College at Fullerton. "A mouthful of words," complained one student, who was quoted in the Titan Times story.

Other protests quickly followed, of course, many as a result of the Vietnam War. The newspaper was criticized for its coverage of pro-war events, such as a student-faculty march through campus and into downtown Fullerton, supporting "our fighting men."

Also criticized was coverage of various anti-war speakers, including faculty members. Even a photograph of two students handing out literature from a "No War Toys" table near the quad came under attack because of alleged bias and prejudice in the cutline.

The growing war, the high draft calls and the increasing casualty count brought many contributions to the Letters to the Editor section. Students and faculty used the paper to vigorously debate the impact of the controversial conflict on our country and the world.

Newspaper editorials also pointed out some inconsistent behavior on the part of campus teachers. Once, a history professor barred a reporter from attending an organizational meeting of the Students for a Democratic Society, even though the meeting had been advertised in a previous edition of the Titan Times as "open to all interested students."

And the first anti-Vietnam war advertisement, printed in a 1965 edition, was attacked by some members of the Associated Student Body government. They seriously discussed--certainly not for the last time--cutting the newspaper's meager student-funded budget.

War and politics were not the only matters covered and commented on in the pages of the Titan Times. Free love, inter-racial relationships, open housing, civil rights, gender roles, drug laws, sexual stereotypes, fluoridated water, obscenity, free speech and press and dozens of other issues--some now quaint vestiges of an earlier era--were common topics.

While the exciting political times and the changing social climate were reflected in the newspaper's pages, ordinary campus events were never ignored during these years, due to the "beat system," which assigned news reporters to specific coverage responsibilities.

Thus, the initial successes of the debate and basketball teams, the birth of sororities and fraternities, upheavals in student government and rowdy nights at the Othrys Hall dorm-- now a part of Hope International University--all gained some space in the news columns.

A long list of honors also began during these early years. The fall 1965 issues won the newspaper's first major statewide award, a second place in general excellence from the California Newspaper Publishers Association, in competition with dailies and weeklies.

The fall 1966 issues again won a second place, but in a new weekly category. The three-times weekly 1968-69 issues merited first place, this time in competition with the dailies.

Of course, future editors and reporters would have equally memorable experiences. But the pre-daily era, including the 1960 biweekly, the 1960-1965 weekly, the 1965-1968 twice-weekly and the 1968-69 three-times weekly, always will be highly valued by the hundreds of participating staff members.