150th Anniversary Issue

Bylines from days gone by: Daily Cal alumni through the ages

Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, writer Joan Didion and “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss (from left to right) are among The Daily Californian’s most notable alumni.

Whether you’ve spent moments in the office or only encountered The Daily Californian via Zoom, being part of this community is special for a lifetime. For the 150th anniversary of our paper, here’s a look back on three of our most notable alumni through the decades.

Joan Didion, 1950s

There are icons, and then there’s Joan Didion: writer and journalist extraordinaire. And while the Pulitzer Prize finalist has been writing longer than most of us at the Daily Cal have been alive, she once worked here, too. Before launching her writing in a Vogue magazine contest, Didion worked as a Daily Cal staffer in the 1950s. In 1953, Didion produced her debut project, a spring fashion issue. She went on to also cover campus Women’s Day in 1954, “the one day of the year” dedicated to women at UC Berkeley, she wrote. And while Didion went on to bigger and brighter things, we’ll always be proud that she started out as one of us.

Jann Wenner, 1960s

Not every college dropout founds a legendary magazine, but that’s exactly what Jann Wenner did with Rolling Stone after leaving UC Berkeley in the mid-1960s. And maybe his time as a rock ’n’ roll columnist at the Daily Cal had a little something to do with it. Starting in 1966, Wenner began covering and discussing all the classic bands on your favorite (now) vintage T-shirts. He was a staffer with the coolness only the future founder of Rolling Stone could have, writing under the name of Mr. Jones and naming his column “Something’s Happening” after a line in a Bob Dylan record. And if Wenner sounds like the primordial blueprint for every iteration of your local indie soft boy, edgy skater and “underground” music fan, it’s probably because he is.

Mike Fleiss, 1980s

Crimson red roses. Love affairs. Fantasy suites (where, rest assured, premarital sex definitely does not happen!). Adults crying on television. Grown men who likely wear Axe cologne. A mansion as a set, with soap opera music to match. You guessed it, I’m describing “The Bachelor,” the hit reality show where people audition to find true love on national television. And you may wonder how the Daily Cal is connected to this bastion of pop culture, but our very own alumnus Mike Fleiss created the show, in addition to “The Bachelorette,” “High School Reunion” and several others. Fleiss worked as a sports editor in the 1980s, and although his seminal work is certainly with our paper, we aren’t too disappointed in his later successes.