A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955

The Daily Bruin Is Born

Printed edition © 1970, 1997

Internet Edition © 2000, 2001

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Go to the Front of the Book
Preface, Contents, List of Editors, Bibliography and Index

Chapter 3


Freshmen women must wear their frosh buttons, they must buy A.S.U.C. cards, and they must use only the balconies at Assemblies. First-year women must not queen [put on airs]; they must not use the Sophomore benches in Millspaugh Hall; they must stay out of Sophomore Grove, and they must not wear high school jewelry. -- Advice to entering women from the Women's Sophomore Vigilance Committee. (CG, 9/13/25.)

. . . the 1920's generated more froth than any other ten-year period in American history, and . . . as the decade rushed to its climax the froth billowed higher than ever. -- Paul S. Boyer, Purity in Print (1960).

There is a stereotype of the late 1920s as a vacuous period of goldfish-swallowing, flagpole-sitting, hip flasks, boola-boola and Mamie the College Widow, Pride of the Yoo-ni-ver-si-teee. As with most stereotypes, there is an element of truth in the picture. The Daily Bruin, as the Press Club Vode showed, was certainly not immune from this kind of frothy college atmosphere. But the Bruin showed a surprising amount of maturation and growth in the late Twenties. True, football games and vaudeville shows were bannered on Page One. Yet a new emphasis was put on solid news reporting and the importance of world and national events.

This maturing began with the establishment of the Grizzly as a daily newspaper on Sept. 13, 1925. The daily struggle to fill four, six or eight full-size pages meant that the Bruin needed a wide variety of news and features. It needed to rearrange its priority system to meet deadline after deadline, five days a week. It had to become professional.


Today's edition of the Grizzly marks the beginning of a new era in its history, for it is now a full-fledged daily publication, while in past years it made its appearance on the campus as a weekly, and then bi-weekly paper . . . it is only another

The year just passed marks a milestone in the history of the California Grizzly, for it is the first time that it has functioned as a daily publication. In spite of the misgivings which attended the change from a bi-weekly paper, it is now firmly established on its new basis

With John Cohee, '26, editor for the fall semester, and Ben Person, '27, editor for the spring term, many innovations have been added. Chief among these is the perfecting of a managing editor system such as that used on the Daily Californian and the Daily Palo Alto, Stanford's publication.

The Editorial Staff has been much enlarged with over sixty people working on it during the year. This staff is divided into four groups: news, sports, feature, and copy desk. A different news editor and set of reporters are in charge of each edition

For the first time, the Grizzly has had a separate feature department. Among the regular features were Ida Mary, Grizzly Sizzlers, and Sap from the Branch, all of which occasioned much merriment. There has also been a series of interviews with celebrities such as Michael Arlen and John Barrymore, obtained by members of the feature department.

During the first semester of the year, John Cohee and Alfred Slingsby, '27, attended a convention of college newspapers in the west, at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, from which they gained many inspirations to aid in conducting the Grizzly. (SoCam, 1926.)

The Hollywood News said editorially in 1925:

For those who have read that colleges are overrun with frivolity, we recommend the reading of the California Grizzly, the daily publication of the University of California, Southern Branch. It is . . . full of seriousness. Certainly this could not be true if a great number of students were only pleasure bent. (Quoted in CG, 9/29/25.)

In 1926-27, editor William E. Forbes "emphasized the printing of news items in place of publicity stories. World news, both written and pictorial, has been a new feature this year." (SoCam, 1927.) On Sept. 11, 1926, the Grizzly printed its first story from a wire service:


"Swimming For Honor Of France," He Said

BOULOGNE, France, Sept. 10. -- (United News). -- The English channel has suffered another defeat -- the worst yet -- and the dimmed prestige of male swimmers has brightened to its former effulgence.

With the aid of a glass of champagne and some sugar dipped in cognac, Georges Michel of France took for his country the record for swimming the channel that a few weeks ago belonged to Gertrude Ederle and subsequently to Ernst Vierkotter, the German . . .

Michel, who was the fourth to cross the channel this summer and who lowered Vierkotter's time by an hour and 36 minutes, had battled violent currents for a part of the way and had suffered from a cramp. Once he almost sank. But he was swimming for the honor of France, he declared later, and felt that it was up to him "to beat the German." (CG, 9/11/27.)

Five months later, as the Bruin, the newspaper added "the exclusive use in Los Angeles of the picture and cartoon service of the Editor's Feature Service. The company has its national offices in the Times Building, Cleveland, Ohio." (CDB, 2/5/27.)

Editor James Wickizer considered the Bruin to be in direct competition with metropolitan newspapers. (CDB, 10/13/27.) To cap its rise to a semi-professional status, the Daily Bruin joined the California Newspaper Publishers Association as an associate member in 1928. (CDB, 4/9/28.)

Arthur Brisbane, nationally known columnist, declared that the Bruin "maintains the highest type of journalistic standards and ethics, which any metropolitan paper might profitably follow." Hewitt Myring, a visiting English journalist, judged the Bruin to be the best college paper that he had seen in the United States. (SoCam, 1928.)

The newspaper took its news-dissemination duties seriously. With the aid of the Hollywood Citizen, it was able to erect a large scoreboard on Moore Field for the 1926 World Series between New York and St. Louis (won by St. Louis, 4-3), on which the scores were posted as the results were received by radio. "It will be followed by other services which will earn for the paper the title, 'a bigger and better Grizzly.'" (CG, 10/4/26.)

And on Jan. 23, 1927, the newspaper added the first in what was to become a long line of literary and artistic supplements. It was the Literary Review, published as Pages 3 and 4 of the regular issue, once every three weeks. Later supplements were to be The Folio (first appeared 11/10/33), Scope (10/18/38), The Literary Page (12/6/44) and California Daily Bruin Magazine (1951). The Literary Review itself eventually turned into a separate publication, which was in turn replaced by the Folio page of the Bruin in 1933 as a Depression economy measure.

By this time, the student newspaper had changed its name from "Grizzly" to "Bruin," as a result of UCLA's joining the Pacific Coast Conference in 1926. William E. Forbes, who later became president of the Southern California Music Co. and a Regent of the University, recalled 44 years later:

I was the first editor of the Daily Bruin. It came about this way -- UCLA was a new member of the Pacific Coast Conference that then included the University of Montana. Both UCLA and Montana were known as Grizzlies. Our paper was the Daily Grizzly. Montana told us, the new PCC member, that we had to change our name. We undertook a search, lasting for weeks, and futile until the student body council at Berkeley wrote to us, explaining that Berkeley was known both as Bears and Bruins, and offering the name Bruin if we wanted it.

Our student council immediately accepted with thanks, the name of the paper was changed one Friday to the Daily Bruin, and we beat Pomona in football the following day.

I stayed at the print shop in Hollywood from five o'clock until we put the paper to bed at 11, changing all references [from] Grizzlies to Bruin[s], rewriting yells, songs, et cetera, which were put in the paper and used effectively the next day. (Questionnaire.)

Editorially, the Bruin commented, "This is the third name that the student journal here has had, and it is expected to last as long as the University." (CDB, 10/22/26.)

That year, the Bruin won its first national award -- a "distinguished" rating by the National College Press Congress -- a prize that surprised everybody since the Bruin had not been entered officially. (CDB, 2/18/27.)

During this period, revenue problems were ended, and the Bruin was able to build up a regular stable of local and national advertisers which enabled "the largest Daily Bruin ever published" (to that time) to be printed on May 25, 1927-26 eight-column pages totaling 4,432 column inches.

The newspaper was seen to be the daily record of campus activities, and Miss Goldren of the campus library staff found time to prepare an index of Grizzly news items, paying "special attention to traditions, engagements, marriages, faculty members, debates and debating." (CG, 9/27/26.) This indexing was continued and bound into the Daily Bruin files in the University Library for the next five years.

The school itself was changing during this period. The proportion of men to women students was increasing. In September 1925, there were 2,047 men and 4,492 women; four years later the figures were 2,365 and 3,810. At the beginning of 1927, the hazing custom was eliminated, with the Bruin's editorial blessing.

Editorials were still primarily concerned with campus issues. But a front-page column, "The Stray Cat," by Editor James F. Wickizer, brought national issues to readers' attention in such ways as this:


Last week the nation's newspapers were filled with news from Gary, Indiana, where 1200 high school students struck because fourteen Negroes were allowed to attend the same school.

The white students won out. But what about the Negroes?

To the average American, the Negro problem was settled with the Civil War and the reconstruction days. But to the serious minded, the Negro problem did not exist until then.

What is to be done with the vast Negro population of America? Are they to be accepted or are we always going to regard them as boot-blacks and elevator operators? . . . Let us, as educated university students and Christians, show a little more practically the beliefs we profess as Christians. (CDB, 10/4/27.)

The column caused a stir. A student, writing in the Grins and Growls column, attacked Wickizer with the 1927 version of "Would you want your sister to marry one?" Wickizer opened up his editorial column to Grant D. Venerable, president of the Agenda Club, a black organization, who replied:

. . . we should like to set at rest the misguided minds of those who are under the impression that we of the Negro race want social equality . . . to make such an assertion of the "New Negro" (so ably described by Ralph Bunche '27 in an address at the close of the last semester) is an exhibition of ignorance beyond comparison. We want social equality and social intercourse with the other races in no greater measure than they desire it with us . . . Equal opportunity is our plea. (CDB, 10/10/27.)

Editorial independence, of course, has always brought a price -- opposition from those who disagree with the stands that the editor takes. The first recorded example of interference by a member of the Board of Regents took place during Wickizer's term as editor.

The Bruin printed a story giving publicity to a debate featuring Juvenile Court Judge Ben B. Lindsey of Denver, Colo., who supported a series of marital and family reforms that shocked Regent Edward A. Dickson, the publisher of the Los Angeles Express and head of the Regents' committee that oversaw UCLA affairs. The offending story read, in part:

Companionate marriages for collegians!

Judge Ben B. Lindsey, of the Juvenile Court of Denver, is a firm believer that all his theories are completely applicable to the college student of today.

"The husband is not financially responsible for his wife. A college student should be able to marry and live with his wife, or not, as he chooses. "The young couple should receive as much financial assistance from their parents as they do singly." . . .

Judge Lindsey does NOT advocate freelove, trial marriage, illicit unions, or "bootleg" divorces.

He DOES advocate companionate marriages without children, family marriages, and a considering of economic conditions in the levying of alimonies . . . (CDB, 10/27/27.)

The news of Regent Dickson's supposed "interference" was given wide publicity in papers competing with Dickson's Express, and Wickizer ran a front-page editorial giving his version of the incident.

A Letter of Explanation

Contrary to the press reports, Director Ernest C. Moore did not have any direct connection with the command from the regent that stories of Lindsey's discussion on modern youth be prohibited in the Daily Bruin. Dr. Moore merely carried out Mr. Dickson's request in telling the editor not to run these articles . . .

Director Moore has, at all times, displayed a spirit of cooperation and understanding when dealing with any problem which has been brought up between the editor and himself . . .

The whole affair has been very unfortunate in all its phases. It has been the policy of the Daily Bruin, in regard to news dispatches published, to print that which is of general interest to the students and young people of today. Lindsey's statements regarding the youth of today, his accusations and praise, we regard as of sufficient importance for the intelligent consideration of the youth of this campus.

In the words of Judge Lindsey: "Prepare youth for the path, not the path for youth. Young people today feel they deserve more freedom. Give it to them, but give it to them with culture." (CDB, 11/7/27.)

William E. Forbes later described Wickizer as "intense, able, analytical" and as a "good writer [who] could be abrasive when it was useful." (Questionnaire.) His abrasiveness irritated Dean of Women Helen Laughlin, who complained about "editorials favoring public smoking by women . . . The public is not ready to accept the idea of college undergraduates smoking on the campus, or in the University buildings or sorority houses." (Adm, 10/3/27.)

Meanwhile, the staff was still struggling to print a daily newspaper in entirely unsatisfactory working conditions. It included people like John Cohee, later the war analyst for the Los Angeles Daily News and chairman of the Los Angeles Newspaper Guild; Sam Balter, radio sportscaster, and Hale Sparks, the radio "University Explorer" for the University of California. In 1927 the Publications Board asked the Student Executive Council for "more room and more typewriters for the staff" (SEC, 9/28/27), and later the same school year it submitted a petition requesting "that immediate action be taken to alleviate the unsanitary and unhealthy conditions existing in the offices of the Daily Bruin." (SEC, 4/25/28.)

The decade's close, however, brought with it a remedy for the Bruin's unpleasant office environment -- the long-awaited move from the urban campus on Vermont Avenue to the bare, rolling hills of Westwood. But before the decade died, the froth that surrounded the Daily Bruin bubbled higher and higher, to result in the most serious shock to the newspaper in its ten-year history: The suspension of thirteen staff members as a result of the notorious Hell's Bells issue of January 1929.

Go to the Next Chapter
Campus Humor: The Safety Valve (1920-1930)

"From college newspapers in widely separated parts of the country comes the advance news of a campus Red-Scare to be conducted on a nation-wide basis . . . The motives of the chief scarer, the Hearst string of newspapers, are still obscure. . . . "
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