History of Rick Pullen's Advisership

By Rick Pullen

The Daily Titan era of 1973-1978 was relatively calm compared to the preceding years of Vietnam War protests, draft card burnings and student writers wanting to use the paper as their personal soapbox to blast all authority. However, this era did mark Orange County's worst mass murder.

On July 12, 1976, Edward Charles Allaway, a campus janitor, went on a shooting spree in and around the library. He shot nine and killed seven people, including Steve Becker, son of Ernest Becker, the first Daily Titan adviser. The Daily Titan newsroom became a news bureau for reporters from newspapers around the world as they covered the massacre. In 1977, Allaway was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has since been confined to Patton State Hospital. Titan reporters and editors worked long hours to publish a special edition, which won a number of awards.

A few reporters who worked on the paper during the 1973-74 academic year continued to object to university authorities, namely President L. Donald Shields. Shields found such attacks inappropriate and frequently called rookie adviser Rick Pullen to express his dissatisfaction.

Student protests on campus were replaced with "streaking," which became a national fad. Coverage proved to be a challenge for campus journalists, especially photographers. Titan reporters were up to the challenge. At times, fully clothed student reporters and photographers jogged alongside campus streakers, interviewed them and published photos that required air brushing of body parts and car license plates (to protect the guilty).

Pullen, fresh out of graduate school fall of 1973, needed the guidance of executive-editor Ray Estrada to break him in to the Daily Titan culture. Estrada and David Osterman, a jack-of-all-trades journalist, helped Pullen become acquainted with the editorial process and introduced him to "Hal," the temperamental computer that spit out the yellow tape that produced the columns for pasteup.

Osterman, a favorite of Titan editors and writers, graduated in 1974 and then joined the sports staff at the O.C. Register. He died in 1999 after a long and distinguished career. In spring, Susan (Sawtelle) Vanderpol took over the editorship and continued to lead a team of quality reporters and editors: Elliott Almond, Russ Schach, Darrell Santschi, Greg Johnson, Penny Moffet and Amy Lagmay. Glenn Shiozaki and Mark Boster led the photo team. Titan reporters and editors were successful in the California Intercollegiate Press Association (CIPA) competition each year. Cal State Fullerton was host to the 1975 CIPA Convention, which was held at the Quality Inn in Anaheim.

Editor during fall 1974 was Ed Zintel, who may have been the first sophomore editor. Two years later, Sherry Angel was named editor her sophomore year. Angel also finished first in the nation in the William Hearst newswriting competition, and went on to the writeoffs in San Francisco where she picked up a second place award among all writers. Bob Rohwer, both an entertainment and sports writer, served as editor spring 1975, and later came back in 1978 to serve as a teaching assistant to adviser Pullen.

The Titan had an especially strong cast of sports writers during this period. Many went on to outstanding careers at local, regional and national papers. Serving as sports writers and editors were Steve Grimley (O.C. Register), Jim Ruffalo (O.C. Register), Peter Schmuck (O.C. Register and Baltimore Sun), John Strege, (O.C. Register), Paul Gelormino (L.A. Times and Portland Oregonian), Dennis Peck, (O.C. Register and Portland Oregonian) and Osterman. This tradition continued beyond this period. Geno Effler came to the DT after a solid high school journalism experience and served as editor in 1976. He sparred with student government, as did most of the editors during this period. Several A.S. presidents sought to control content and asked for front page space for an AS column. In fact, the DT budget provided by the Associated Students included language in 1975 that a specific amount of inches had to be devoted to covering AS government, in a positive way, of course.

One of the more infamous incidents during this period took place in 1975 and was known as the "cupcake incident." DT writers believed that A.S. government leaders were sneaking into the snack bar in the Science Building (McCarthy Hall) basement at night after it had been locked up and were stealing cupcakes and other snacks. To illustrate that this was possible, writer David Daffern scaled the locked gate one night and was caught by campus police. He was eventually released from custody.

Carolyn Howerton and Peter Hecht served as editors during the 1976-77 academic year. Strong writers including David Ferrell, Scott Harris, Anita Snow, Pat Tashima, Cathy Lawhon, Tony Long, Jeff Golden, Michelle Cleary and Susan Contreras ensured that the Daily Titan would continue to win awards of excellence in regional and national competitions.

After three years, Pullen gave over the advising responsibilities to James Fields, a journalism professor who had significant writing and teaching experience. Peck served as editor fall of 1978 under Fields.

However, Fields suffered a serious injury in a fall and was unable to advise the Daily Titan spring of 1978, the semester the Titan basketball team made the final eight in the NCAA playoffs. The Titans lost to the University of Arkansas. Pullen took over advising responsibilities that spring and was assisted by former editor Rohwer, who was working on his teaching credential.

Editor during spring of '78 was Steve Nill, who was assisted by John Millen, until Millen resigned his associate editor position to run for and win the election for student body president. Millen's departure caused some controversy given the fact that he was jumping from the journalistic camp to the government camp.

Fields returned to advise the Daily Titan for another year, 1978-79, and then left CSUF to teach in Wisconsin.