In his column, Paul Danish details the history of the Colorado Daily, which for 61 years was CU's official student newspaper. It's now published by the Boulder Daily Camera

A newspaper layoutThe Colorado Daily, which for 61 years was CU’s official student newspaper, is today published by the Boulder Daily Camera. It’s still distributed on campus, but it’s no longer a student newspaper.

What happened?

It’s complicated. And, to me, sad.

From 1892 to 1953, CU’s student newspaper was called The Silver & Gold. In 1953, the name changed to Colorado Daily, reflecting a new five-day publishing schedule.

But the Daily was still CU’s official student newspaper: CU sponsored it, students wrote and edited it, non-students couldn’t be on the staff. (Neither could students with a GPA under 2.0.)

At first, the Daily wasn’t much different from the S&G.

But in the late ’50s the editors grew feistier and more focused on off-campus political issues. And a lot more liberal.

Make that radical.

Crises and drama ensued.

For me, the Daily was life-changing

By 1970, the Daily’s staffers wanted out from under CU’s thumb. The Regents, weary of catching flak for the paper, agreed.

So, a divorce was arranged. By mutual agreement, CU no longer recognized the Daily as its student paper and quit subsidizing it. The paper incorporated as a nonprofit and moved off campus.

Then something unexpected happened. The Daily not only stopped being the official student paper; it also stopped being a student-edited paper. The emancipated paper’s incumbent student staff never developed a process for transferring power to a new student staff. They couldn’t let go.

So, the Daily evolved from a newspaper produced by CU students for CU students to a paper produced by CU alumni (mostly) for CU students.

Toward the end of the ’90s, the Daily, by then employee-owned, hired an accountant who turned out to be crooked. Accused of taking more than $250,000, he ultimately pleaded guilty to a related criminal charge.

Partly as a result, the Daily declared bankruptcy and, in early 2001, sold itself to Randy Miller, a veteran of both the editorial and business sides of newspapering, for $2.3 million.

Miller returned the paper to profitability, and, 4.5 years later, sold it to the Camera.

The Camera’s incarnation of the Colorado Daily genuinely tries to appeal to CU students and Millennials. But newspapers should be dangerous things, and by the Daily’s historic standards, it’s harmless. I still get a little ache in my heart when I pick it up.

For me, and I suspect for many former Daily student staffers, being on staff during the ’60s was a life-changing experience. I didn’t do anything remotely as exciting and satisfying until a decade later.

Don’t get me wrong. The post-1970 Daily staffers produced some terrific journalism. I just think it’s sad they couldn’t find a way to share that experience with future generations of CU students.

Still, I like to think today’s Daily isn’t the late-night final. It’s a newspaper. So long as it lives, there’s always another edition.

Paul Danish (Hist’65) is a Coloradan columnist.

Photo from the 1969 Coloradan yearbook.