Today, Sept. 19, 2021, The Temple News turns 100 years old. Our publication has provided coverage about defining moments in our nation’s history, like the Great Depression, World War II, and the election of the nation’s first Black president.
The resilience of our staff and editorial processes has held Temple University accountable and served as a beacon of objective truth for students, faculty, staff, alumni and North Central residents regarding issues within our coverage zone and Philadelphia overall.
I arrived as a freelancer for The Temple News in September 2019 and witnessed this paper evolve while covering a global pandemic, an intense presidential election and a rapidly changing university landscape.
I seek not to use this moment to celebrate our accomplishments but to highlight how The Temple News has epitomized the way student publications can amplify the voices of their readers while holding an objective lens to current affairs.
During the past 18 months, our staff has risked their health and safety to cover crucial issues for the Temple community in a way not asked of previous editors. We’ve reported at political protests and COVID-19 vaccination clinics as we’ve sought to make our paper a window into the rapidly evolving world around us, all while operating primarily virtually.
Instead of drastically reducing operations throughout the pandemic, we expanded our online presence, experimented with new forms of media and broadened the coverage of various sections in our paper.
While previous editors have reported on incredible challenges facing the university and the nation — like the student body’s reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Sept. 11 attacks — our efforts over the last 18 months should make clear that while the world continues to change, our true mission has not.
Today as our publication continues to manage the challenges of running a newsroom amid a pandemic while operating with decreased funding from the university, our resolve remains steadfast.
We still have work to do in improving the diversity among our staff and ensuring that we find solutions-oriented ways to best cover the North Central community.
However, we have undoubtedly fulfilled our mission to be a watchdog for the Temple University community and are fully committed to doing so for the next 100 years and beyond.
The Temple News staff reflects on 100 years of publication
During the past century, The Temple News has served as an independent voice for both the student body and the North Central community while covering everything from wars to elections and navigating changes in the paper’s structure, content and staff.
While The Temple News does not have records of the 1920s editions of the paper, issues from 1932 onwards show the publication’s commitment to its watchdog mission.
The Temple News printed using a broadsheet form from the 1930s to 2018, which contained both short blurbs and larger columns that discussed both Temple-focused and national coverage.
Today, The Temple News publishes daily digital content and bi-weekly print content using a flip-through tabloid form that better showcases the work of the paper’s photographers and designers, wrote Gillian McGoldrick, a 2019 Temple journalism alumna and former Editor-in-Chief of The Temple News, in an email.
“This change allowed us to focus on getting fresh news online each day, plus delve deeper into investigations as our weekly cover story for the print edition,” McGoldrick wrote.
Dating back to the 1930s, The Temple News addressed significant events like economic recessions, on-campus crises and presidential elections that greatly impacted the Temple student body.
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt began his presidential campaign in 1932, which pushed reporters at The Temple News to document how students organized a committee to support his campaign.
“A new Presidential campaign organization, the Roosevelt Independent Students’ Committee, has been introduced into Temple,” The Temple News wrote in an Oct. 21, 1932 issue. “The object of the organization is to aid in the Roosevelt campaign and arouse student interest and motivate active participation in the coming elections.”
In 1944, during World War II, our publication highlighted the heroics of Allied forces on D-Day. Major Patrick Chilton, M.C., English army officer, spoke at a university lecture in Mitten Hall’s clubroom, according to The Temple University News digital archives.
“Describing preparations for the invasion, Maj. Chilton said a wall of concrete 60 feet thick was erected in England to represent the West Wall on the invasion coast, and the invasion was simulated day after day,” The Temple News wrote in an Oct. 18, 1944 issue. “The British and Americans threw everything they had including heavy bombs at the ‘West Wall’ and left it a mass of ruins.”
The paper’s writers also voiced their opinions on ongoing reformation movements, like the civil rights movement.
“Liberty must be for all and not just for some,” The Temple News wrote in an April 16, 1956 issue. “It is for the best of us and for the worst of us. These are not just luxuries to be fought for. We must uphold them.”
On Nov. 17, 1967, thousands of Black students organized a march in the School District of Philadelphia building to advocate for improved facilities, courses that would educate students about Black history and the right to wear traditional African attire at school, The Temple News reported. This protest resulted in the establishment of the Department of Africology and African American Studies.
During other civil rights demonstrations, students mourned the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, who had spoken to crowds of students on Main Campus in 1965, The Temple News reported.
The paper continued to document the student body mobilizing for social justice causes.
In September 1990, The Temple News covered student protests alongside a faculty strike of the administration’s salary and health care package offer. The protests included students storming former President Peter Liacouras’ office in Sullivan Hall.
In 2008, the paper documented local residents gathering at Progress Plaza to hear then Sen. Barack Obama speak during his presidential campaign. One month later, The Temple News reported the nation had elected its first Black president.
The Temple News also reported on a protest that made its way through Main Campus against former President Donald Trump in the wake of his victory in the 2016 Presidential Election.
“They chanted things like, ‘F-ck Donald Trump,’ ‘Donald Trump is KKK, racist, sexist, anti-gay,’ ‘Not my president,’ ‘My body my choice and ‘Black Lives Matter,’” Evan Easterling wrote in the article.
Besides reporting on protests and celebrations, The Temple News has reported on heartbreak and hardships.
The paper documented a constitutional amendment during the Great Depression that was introduced to the voters of Pennsylvania that could have potentially eliminated one-third of the university’s commonwealth appropriation between 1933 and 1934, according to The Temple University News digital archives.
Rather than increasing tuition fees, the university resorted to cutting faculty salaries to balance its budget throughout the Depression, according to the article.
The paper also reported on students’ reactions to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“The first thing I thought was where were my friends and family,” a student said in the Sept. 13 to Sept. 19, 2001 issue of The Temple News.
The publication also continued to hold the university and its officials, both present and former, accountable.
The Temple News covered the sexual assault case of Bill Cosby, a former Board of Trustees member, including his conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in an April 2018 retrial, his sentencing of three to 10 years in September 2018 and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to drop his charges in June 2021.
While documenting the events of Cosby’s case, the paper made sure to note that former Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor represented Cosby in a 2005 civil suit for a related matter, The Temple News reported.
Despite its ability to produce diverse coverage on both hyper-local and national topics that are relevant to the student body, The Temple News has faced its own challenges.
The publication’s content, especially in the 1930s, seemed to cater solely towards stereotypical male interests at the time like tobacco, sports and fraternities, and nearly all advertisements featured only white people.
Now, means of outreach to readers, like newsletters, letters to the editor and more, are aligned with the digital sphere that the paper has taken in stride and sections of the paper, like Intersection and Opinion continue to highlight student identities.
Fast-forward to present day, The Temple News is now dealing with a new major event, the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to how the writers at The Temple News experienced the aftermath of the Spanish Flu pandemic approximately a century ago.
While The Temple News has endured many changes throughout the last 100 years, the paper has always remained an independent watchdog for the Temple University community.
Learn more about The Temple News’ 100th anniversary and how you can celebrate with us.