Independence from Stanford was a scary proposition in 1973 from a financial perspective. There was no big brother to bail us out. So, in 1975, we began hosting dinners around the Big Game. We would contract with restaurants in North Beach for Cal away Big Games and at the Faculty Club for home games. Two groups dominated the attendance: the first consisted of alumni from the 1970s, while the second was a group from the 1950s and 1960s, spearheaded by Harry Press ’39, longtime editor of the Stanford Magazine, and his good friend Lorry Lokey ’49.
The thought was that a safety net was needed for an independent Daily at some point in the future. It became obvious that the Daily was the most formative part of the Stanford experience for these alumni. The numbers grew from 30 per year coming to the dinner to as many as 150 in recent years. Friendships and professional collaborations grew across the decades from 1945 to 1980.
The need for a financial safety net and a new building became obvious in the late 1980s and the Friends of The Stanford Daily was formed in 1991. Press, Elna Tymes ’61 and I embarked on a 14-year struggle to secure Stanford approval for a new site for the Daily, as the University was going to tear down the old Daily building to make way for the Engineering building. Lorry Lokey became the lead donor, and with the help of his challenge grants, Daily alumni came up with the funds for the new Lorry Lokey Building on Panama Mall.
Over the years journalists, primarily from the 1950s, established small endowments to fund summer internships for current Daily staff. Christy Wise ’75 began and managed an effort that has led to over 100 summer internship opportunities with newspapers such as The San Jose Mercury and the Washington Post. Over the years, older Daily alumni have provided guidance, education and collaborations with younger Daily alumni. Alumni at large Daily metro papers and national magazines have provided many workshops to current Daily staff.
In 1973, we did not know what an independent Daily would face in the future. The oil recession of 1973 to 1975 hit immediately. There were small recessions in the early 1980s and 1990s. The dot com collapse of 2000 hit the paper hard, followed by the 2008 housing bubble recession. The shift away from printed papers and the departure of 90% of revenue from print advertising has been especially difficult. The Friends of the Stanford Daily has provided financial help to the Daily several times since 1991 and to date has largely accomplished its goal: to allow The Stanford Daily to remain independent and provide journalistic education and career opportunities to hundreds of Stanford students. What began as a social lark around Big Game has grown into an effective support organization. Most importantly, it has provided a forum where Stanford alumni some 20 to 40 years apart in age, can gather and exchange memories and wisdom from their student years. The organization has proven to be a critical resource in accomplishing its primary goal, to keep the Daily independent over the last 50 years, and hopefully for 50 years into the future.
Charlie Hoffman ’73 MBA ’76 was a member of The Stanford Daily during his time at Stanford and has supported efforts for Daily independence.