150th Anniversary Issue

Alumni revisit Daily Cal experiences

In accordance with Daily Californian tradition, departing editors sign their names on the inside of old desk drawers during a “desk-signing” ceremony. (Sunny Shen / Senior Staff)

In celebration of the paper’s 150th anniversary, The Daily Californian asked alumni about their experiences working for the publication and its impact on their lives through an online survey. Here are some of their responses.

Responses have been edited for clarity and style.

What stories are most memorable from your time at the Daily Cal?

“Of course, the Free Speech Movement was the main story in my time there, running from September all the way through January, with mass crowds and protests, celebrities and sheriffs all over campus and so on. I left before the tear gas and bullets started to fly on campus in later years. I did meet a man at a conference in 1995 who showed me his finger that had the end shot off by a shotgun pellet during the People’s Park riots. Protests were much more civilized in 1964-65.”
— Ron Enfield ’66, chief photographer

“One was talking to people formerly part of the Peoples Temple right after the Jonestown massacre in fall 1978. I remember one of them warning me to be careful, not as a threat, but as advice. (Years later I interviewed one of the survivors for a radio show I host/produce in Davis, California — some stories stay with you.)”
— Bill Buchanan ’79, staff writer and city bureau chief

“My front-page stories — the most-remembered by the former University Students’ Cooperative Association student housing cooperatives, where I lived for my four years at UC Berkeley, is my description of the about-to-open co-ed cooperative house, the former Ridge Project. This August 1966 article is entitled “Boys & Girls Together.” The article is used in alumni reunions of this house, such as the 50th reunion. It had the distinction of being the first co-ed living group among the organized living groups near campus. Believe it or not, this was still a very controversial idea in 1966 at Berkeley. The most radical ideas got a lot of media as if the whole campus was leftist, but in fact, they were at most held by half of the students.”
— Ken Haliburton ’68, arts and entertainment editor

“I remember two articles in particular.

The first article, published in 1972, concerned the UC system censoring a film bought to teach Cooperative Extension (Agricultural Extension) employees about civil rights. The film was called “The Mexican-American: Heritage and Destiny.” The bosses of Cooperative Extension deleted (spliced out) a part of the film showing Cesar Chavez of the farmworkers’ union. When a UC Berkeley faculty member complained about the censorship, he was fired. After writing my article, I was besieged with telephone calls and letters, many of which claimed that the UC system was acting like a “fascist dictatorship.” The president of the university, Charles Hitch, ordered that the film not be shown.

The second article concerned Archibald Cox, a Harvard Law School professor who became the special prosecutor for Watergate. In May 1973, before Cox was named special prosecutor, he gave a speech on the Berkeley campus. After his speech, Cox, in an interview, told me that he had “philosophical and ideological” differences with President Richard Nixon. Cox, during the interview, showed a strong bias against Nixon. Three weeks later, Cox was named Watergate special prosecutor. Cox said he could be an unbiased special prosecutor; President Nixon’s allies were delighted with my article. (Note: In fall 1972, I wrote the editorial providing The Daily Californian’s endorsement of Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., for president. I was never a supporter of Nixon.) The California Republican Party wanted me to surrender the notes I took during my interview with Cox. I refused. The California Republican Party threatened to sue me and put me in jail. (During the Nixon years, several reporters went to jail for not disclosing their sources.) With the help of a lawyer, the actions of the California Republican Party were quashed. Media luminaries like George Will called me a “young patriot.” I never thought that writing an article for The Daily Californian might result in my going to jail.”
— Richard Colman ’73 and ’76, science editor, editorial page editor, city editor and chief investigative reporter

What do you remember most about your time at the paper? Is there a particular incident? An overall impression?

“It was my home. It was my defining college experience. It was my niche. I spent more time at the Daily Cal office than in classes. Ninety percent of my friends in college were Daily Cal friends. For a time I was night editor, staying late, and then I got up at 6 a.m. to deliver newspapers all over campus.”
— Jennifer Christian ’05, copy editor, night editor and managing editor

“Nov. 22, 1963, I was sitting in the photographers’ office, next to the AP teletype, when the alarm bells rang multiple times, then rang more. It was a flash bulletin that said President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. We in the newsroom at the Daily Cal were among the first people on the West Coast to learn about it.”
— Ron Enfield ’66, chief photographer

“It was a tumultuous cauldron, often fun, sometimes contentious. The work, the lessons I learned, the opportunities and the rookie mistakes I made helped me sharpen my reporting, writing and ability to work with other people to get a good story.”
— Bill Buchanan ’79, staff writer and city bureau chief

“Most of what I did was cover lectures on controversial subjects or music concerts. At the UC Berkeley Folk Festival of 1966, I believe the last one they had, since folk music had died, I interviewed the Jefferson Airplane after its free concert in Pauley. This was the last concert where Signe Toly was its female singer. She quit because she had a baby and moved to Portland. She was on the first album. Immediately after this, Grace Slick left the Great Society and became the new female singer.”
— Ken Haliburton ’68, arts and entertainment editor

“I truly enjoyed working on The Daily Californian. That experience was one of the highlights of my life. Working for The Daily Californian taught me how to write well — and write well under pressure.”
— Richard Colman ’73 and ’76, science editor, editorial page editor, city editor and chief investigative reporter

What do you miss most about working at the Daily Cal?

“I miss placing bubble wrap underneath the welcome mat. It scared everyone when they would walk in and step on it.”
— Paul Mercado ’14, receptionist and office manager

“We were close to our readers. Our work mattered to them. And, I worked alongside some really talented people. We weren’t paid much — and sometimes you had to cash your paycheck quickly because otherwise it’d bounce — but it didn’t feel like a job. More like a calling. And I liked our building, upstairs at 2490 Channing near Telegraph. It was threadbare and scruffy, and it was ours.”
— Bill Buchanan ’79, staff writer and city bureau chief

What was your favorite thing you worked on at the Daily Cal?

“Opening the Hearst office!”
— Paul Mercado ’14, receptionist and office manager

“Shooting photos at the football and basketball games, track meets and rugby games.”
— Ron Enfield ’66, chief photographer

How did the paper shape your career?

“The copy editing skills I built at the paper launched my career as a newspaper editor, leading to stints at the San Jose Mercury News and The Wall Street Journal. From there I started copy editing at Apple and eventually was promoted to a broad scope of work as a manager. The attention to detail, professionalism and love for quality I learned at the Daily Cal are skills I’ve carried throughout my career.”
— Jennifer Christian ’05, copy editor, night editor and managing editor

“My Daily Cal efforts took me directly to a job on the San Francisco Chronicle, for which I will always be grateful.”
— Dick Israel ’53, night editor

“I learned so much from doing the work there. I learned to broaden my reporting by learning from the impact it had. I learned to improve my work from editors like Danielle Morton, Jon Taylor and Tom Pecoraro. I have a journalism degree from UC Berkeley, but reporting and writing stories at the Daily Cal were essential to building my skills.”
— Bill Buchanan ’79, staff writer and city bureau chief

Who worked at the Daily Cal with you?

“My maid of honor at my wedding is someone I met at the Daily Cal!”
— Jennifer Christian ’05, copy editor, night editor and managing editor

“My best friend on the paper was George Crow, who was an electrical engineering major and helped develop the first Macintosh.”
— Ron Enfield ’66, chief photographer

“My first wife, Barbara Rosenthal (deceased 1961), worked with me every Thursday night.”
— Dick Israel ’53, night editor