The Cavalier Daily is the fully independent student-run newspaper at the University of Virginia, founded in 1890. It is the oldest daily college newspaper in Virginia and the oldest newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia. Cavalier Daily alumni include affiliates of prominent media organizations and winners of prestigious journalistic awards including the Pulitzer Prize.

History[edit | edit source]

The Cavalier Daily printed its first issue under the name College Topics on January 15, 1890. In 1924, the newspaper increased its publication schedule from twice a week to six times a week, making the paper a daily. However, the following year paper's off-campus printer suffered a catastrophic fire, and the newspaper alternated between two and three publication days a week until 1940.

During World War II College Topics struggled for survival as the University of Virginia student population was greatly reduced due to the war effort. By 1943, the paper had become a four-page weekly that featured only bulletins. After the war, the paper increased its circulation and content, and was renamed The Cavalier Daily on May 4, 1948.

The admission of women and African-American students to the University of Virginia beginning in the early 1970s changed the face of the paper as well as the university community. The increased diversity of the community challenged what is often characterized as the preexisting “good old boy” attitude at both the school and The Cavalier Daily, resulting in a staff that became more motivated and ambitious. The first woman member of the Managing Board, Mary Love, was elected business manager in 1973, and the first woman editor-in-chief, Marjorie Leedy, followed in 1976. During this time, Managing Board races became highly competitive, and the paper adopted more professional journalistic standards. In 1973, a staff split resulted in several unsuccessful candidates for the Managing Board leaving to form The Declaration, a weekly tabloid-format publication that continues to publish as of April, 2009. In 1976, The Cavalier Daily became the first college publication to receive a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Media Board crisis[edit | edit source]

The University’s Media Board, a body composed of students and supervised by the University's Board of Visitors, was founded in 1976 to regulate on-Grounds media, but The Cavalier Daily ignored it as a matter of practice. In April 1979, the confrontation came to a head when University President Frank Hereford presented the paper with the ultimatum of accepting the Media Board and the Board of Visitors’ authority or being forced to leave its offices. The newspaper refused to acknowledge administrative supervision, and The Cavalier Daily was evicted from its offices on April 4, 1979, continuing to publish from rented space in the offices of Charlottesville’s Daily Progress.

On April 5, a student protest of the eviction, including a 1,500-student demonstration in front of Hereford’s office on the Lawn and condemnation from Student Council, encouraged both sides to end the impasse, and the newspaper agreed to a compromise on April 6. The Cavalier Daily’s movement toward complete independence emerged from the Media Board crisis.

Recent history and the CD today[edit | edit source]

The fallout of the Media Board crisis led to the 1983 formation of the Cavalier Daily Alumni Association, with the stated purpose to support the newspaper and aid it in times of need.

In 1979, the university saw the creation of another student-run newspaper, the University Journal, which originally formed in opposition to what many saw as the left-wing editorial stances of The Cavalier Daily. An intense rivalry between the two newspapers for news and advertising grew as the University Journal published three times weekly in the 1980s and then four times weekly beginning in 1991. Amid significant debt, the University Journal cut back production starting in 1996 and ceased to exist by 1998. Since that time, The Cavalier Daily has been the only newspaper at the University of Virginia.

In 1995, The Cavalier Daily Online Edition was launched, and in 1998, The Cavalier Daily began to pay rent for its offices in Newcomb Hall, the last step in the path toward complete independence from the University that began in earlier decades. The Digitization Project, completed in 2001, made all aspects of production computer-based.

The Cavalier Daily in recent years has won dozens of Virginia Press Association awards for its news, opinion, feature and critical content, as well as design, in a competition that places the paper in competition with professional daily newspapers across the state.

In 2006 and 2007, the Cavalier Daily comics section came under fire for controversial cartoons. In August 2006, the comics were considered insensitive to Christians, involving the Virgin Mary and Jesus. The controversy received national attention[1] and was featured on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor. In September 2007, the same cartoonist caused outcry with a comic entitled "Ethiopian Food Fight", which portrayed malnourished ethnic Ethiopians fighting each other with various objects including boots, twigs, pillows and chairs. The ambiguity of the term "food fight" carried over to the cartoon itself, creating controversy over whether it a) caricatured victims of the Ethiopian famine as being forced to eat non-food items, which they then would throw at each other in a "food fight" in the usual sense, or instead b) depicted Ethiopians so impoverished that they could afford neither food nor weapons, such that they were forced to improvise weapons to use in their fight over scarce food resources, a type of dispute to which news sources including CNN and the Washington Post have applied the term "food fight". [2] Some readers from each respective side joined in claiming that the artist's characterization of the disputants dehumanized Ethiopians, as did some readers who were not sure which meaning was intended but found either alternative objectionable. The controversy led the managing board of the paper to fire the artist despite a lack of clear justification concerning editorial oversight and ultimate responsibility for publication of the controversial comic;[3] the artist was also the senior graphics editor at the time, a position subordinate to all members of the managing board. Four other comic artists, including another graphics editor, voluntarily resigned from the paper, prompting an unprecedented mid-year replacement of comics staff. A complete comics strike was staged during a week of attempted negotiations, but the managing board covered up the strike by rerunning strips. The episode earned the 2007 managing board of the paper a Jefferson Muzzle award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.[4]

In 2008, two strips of the comic TCB were withdrawn following outcry from campus and alumni Christians as well as Catholic League president Bill Donohue. Donohue mistakenly suggested a double standard on the part of the Cavalier Daily, as evidenced by the comic strip Luftwaffle's cartoon featuring a censored Prophet Muhammad. He took this as an acknowledgment "that any and all depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammed are banned." [5] In fact, Luftwaffle was satirizing attitudes towards censorship. This is evidenced by their submission of a strip introducing the Prophet's twin brother (whose image, according to the strip's creators, is allowed to be displayed) for comedic effect. The strip was not allowed to run, prompting the authors to submit non sequitur jokes for the next two weeks.

In the media firestorm surrounding the forced resignation of Teresa Sullivan, the University of Virginia president, The Cavalier Daily obtained a series of emails using the Freedom of Information Act that shone a light on the actions of the university's Board of Visitors.

Content[edit | edit source]

The Cavalier Daily prints all-original coverage for its daily news, sports, opinion, and comics, as well as its weekly “Focus”, Arts and Entertainment and Health & Science (formerly Health & Sexuality) sections.

Operations and governance[edit | edit source]

The Cavalier Daily, until January 2012, went to press five issues per week in the fall and spring semesters. Starting in January 2012, the newspaper cut its Friday edition. Daily print distribution is 10,000 copies across the University Grounds and Charlottesville. The newspaper is printed at the press of the Culpeper Star-Exponent in Culpeper, Virginia, and all issues are free.

In an average year, the newspaper’s staff exceeds 200 students, who are all volunteers. The paper’s editors include five members of the Managing Board, several copy editors, online managers and editors, and technology managers, and over two dozen section editors, all elected by the staff each January.

The Cavalier Daily is fully independent from the University of Virginia and alumni both editorially and financially. The five-person Managing Board acts as both the executive editorial board of the newspaper and as the corporate board of directors of The Cavalier Daily, Inc., which operates entirely on advertising revenue. The Cavalier Daily charges different rates for local and national advertisers.

Notable past staff members[edit | edit source]

Cavalier Daily alumni are editors and reporters at publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, Congressional Quarterly, CBS, NBC, Newsweek and Time, among other nationally prominent newspapers, magazines and broadcast networks.

Notable alumni of The Cavalier Daily include:

Virginia Glee Club alumni[edit | edit source]

Journalism[edit | edit source]

Other areas[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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