Responding to PAW’s call for memories of student journalism (PAW Online email newsletter, Jan. 7), here’s a story from my time as an editor for The Daily Princetonian:
I started as a reporter for the Prince in September 1977, the fall of my freshman year, and served as features editor from January 1980 to January 1981. A recent New Yorker profile of my classmate and fellow Prince editor Justice Elena Kagan ’81 describes how she was drawn to “the adrenalized, proto-professional atmosphere of The Daily Princetonian.” The excitement often translated to long days and nights in the Prince offices on University Place.
Student activism at the time focused on opposition to apartheid in South Africa and to the University’s connections to companies doing business there. On a Sunday evening in March 1980, I was working as a night editor assembling the next day’s paper. At 10 p.m. calls — landline phone calls! — came to the newsroom with reports that a sit-in was starting at Firestone Library. As reporters hurried to the scene, the small group of us in the composing room took apart the paper’s layout to make room for coverage of the so-called study-in.
Reporting continued for hours as 80 protesters from the People’s Front for the Liberation of Southern Africa stated their intention to stay all night. University administrators arrived on the scene and warned of disciplinary consequences for the students who refused to leave Firestone at closing. Finally, at 2 a.m., we had to finalize the paper for printing, and a few hours later the Prince was delivered all over campus with the lead headline, “People’s Front stages Firestone sit-in.” I made it back to my room in Dod Hall not long before sunrise, only to be awakened at 9 a.m. to loud chanting when the protesters finally left the library and joined 50 other students for a rally on Cannon Green.