From the editor: Celebrating 50 years of The Daily’s independence

Opinion by Sam Catania
Feb. 23, 2023, 5:28 p.m.

Like most students in the class of 2024, I began my time as a Stanford student online, living not in my dorm room but my bedroom. During the early phases of the pandemic, it was The Daily that initially bound me to Stanford. It was an island in a sea of Zoom rooms and Canvas posts.

At that time, I understood The Daily to be simply a club. It was a place to make friends and do so while reporting the news.

But I quickly learned that The Daily is so much more than just a student organization. Unlike nearly any other student-run operation on campus, The Daily is its own business — a fully-independent California public benefit corporation with 501(c)(3) status.

That independence was solidified a half-century ago this month, and we’ve created a special edition of The Daily, which you can find in print all around campus, to commemorate our journey since then. At The Daily, we value our independence. It allows us to dive fearlessly into stories of great risk and importance. It gives us the freedom to define our own journalistic and business objectives, grow and learn, and improve. For as much as The Daily’s mission is journalistic, it is also educational. Many staffers enter The Daily having never written journalism before and graduate to work at the top newsrooms in the world.

Our position as an independent student newspaper is unique in that all of our staff are direct members of the community we report on. We sit across from our readers at dining halls. They are classmates in our courses and hallmates in our dorms. Our readers are our professors, our administrators, our parents and our alums. When we tell a story well, it has the opportunity to get the people around us thinking, to turn heads and start conversations. And if we tell a story poorly, it is our own community we may hurt; the one we care about so dearly, for it is our own.

At The Daily, we don’t take the responsibility of reporting on our own community lightly. To be fully ingrained within the Stanford community puts us closer to the stories we tell, but it also means there is additional pressure to do a great job telling them. At the risk of being cliché, I feel inclined to quote the first edition of The Daily, then called “The Daily Palo Alto.”

“True it is that The Daily will not make a great university, but just as true is it that The Daily is one of the signs of a great university. This is not a paper by a few individuals, acting in a private capacity. It is the organ of the students of Stanford University.”

This issue hopes to celebrate this important legacy and mission with exciting stories. The articles vary: one historicizes our independence and another details The Daily’s Supreme Court case against the Palo Alto Police Department. One piece recounts our printing of a fake Cal paper following the infamous 1982 Big Game, and another celebrates Daily joy by chronicling the history of our crossword. We let alums take the mic, recounting their own experiences in the issue’s opinions and Grind pieces. 

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Daily’s independence from Stanford, I hope that our community will join us in reflecting on The Daily and its core mission. Most importantly, I hope the Stanford community will continue to hold us to account for our words, push us to improve, and assist us in maintaining our independence for as long as there is a Stanford for The Daily to report on.

Sam Catania ’24 is the Vol. 262 and 263 editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.

Sam Catania ’24 is the Volume 262 Editor in Chief of The Daily. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer, the producer of the weekly video roundup, a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam hails from Philadelphia and is studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at'

Login or create an account