The Lord’s University
by Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel
A Brief History of the Universe, BYU’s Student Newspaper
[p.72]Already edgy from earlier conflicts, nearly a hundred National Guardsmen stationed at the Kent State Commons gripped their M-1 rifles as they eyed the growing crowd. Just a few days earlier, President Richard Nixon had announced that the United States had invaded Cambodia, prompting protests on campuses across the nation. Demonstrations at Kent State had turned violent—some town stores had been looted and an ROTC building set on fire—prompting local leaders to call on the Ohio National Guard. That day, 4 May 1970, Guardsmen were determined to keep the peace. Just before noon, stones and obscenities began to fly from the protestors. The Guard responded with canisters of tear gas as they cleared the area, prodding some with bayonets. Within half an hour, the Commons had been mostly secured, but pockets of demonstrators on the perimeter continued to hurl rocks. By many reports, just as things were dying down, twenty-eight Guardsmen suddenly turned and fired round after round—sixty-one shots in all—at a group congregated on a nearby parking lot. Some students fled; others, stunned, rushed to aid a handful of protesters who lay crumpled on the blacktop. Four were dead, another nine injured.1
BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson was preparing for a trip to New York when the news broke. Several days later he decided to address the killings. Wilkinson, whose tenure at BYU was drawing to a close, had long preoccupied himself with student obedience. He drafted a statement congratulating his students for remaining “cool” and urged them to continue resisting the “present pandemonium.” Wilkinson wanted his statement to run in the next day’s Daily Universe, BYU’s official student newspaper, so he telephoned it in to editors when he touched down in Chicago. Just to make sure everything was set, he called again from New York.2 When Wilkinson returned, he learned that the statement had not run. Furious, he called a conference with the paper’s top student and faculty staffers that weekend. Editors said the [p.73]statement had been held back because it did not fit on the front page, where Wilkinson had wanted it. Wilkinson told the student editors that from that point forward, any official statement from the president was to run unedited and immediately. He also indicated to the managing editor that her poor judgment could have cost her her job. “Both students were very apologetic and agreed that [the statement] would be given the main place in the Universe the next morning,” Wilkinson wrote in his diary.3
As early as 1891, with Brigham Young Academy’s first student publication, campus newspapers have been a frequent site for conflicts between student freedom and administrative authority. The first student paper carried the mission statement that “The BYA Student will be managed exclusively by the students, for the benefit of [the academy] … and young people in general.”4 The editors said they would take personal responsibility for anything published, adding, “We realize that the BYA Student is an infant, yet it can … talk and if necessary ‘hollar.”‘5 The Student was replaced five months later by two publications, the faculty-supervised Business Journal and the Normal which, in turn, were followed three years later by the Journal of Pedagogy, written for both alumni and students. The Journal survived two years.”6
The White and Blue, a student paper along the lines of BYA Student, started publication in 1897. It featured original reporting on campus events, student fiction, and editorials.7 For example, one student column in 1903 said that coeds’ grandmothers would be shocked to hear the slang their granddaughters now used, such as “dog gone,” “Oh Lord,” “rubber neck,” and “hot time.” The paper boasted such mottoes as “Character is Power” and “Everyone Goes to Church on Sunday.” At the end of one school year, the editors of the White and Blue acknowledged, “The [subject] matter was not always high class, but it was true to the psychic condition of the school the paper proved to be a mirror of our school life.”8
In 1921 the White and Blue changed its name to Y News. Several years later editors came out with a provocative new policy statement: “We will criticize wherever and whenever we deem it to be the most expedient policy regardless of whose toes we might step on. In so doing we will always keep in mind the best good of the institution we represent.” The editors added, “Whenever there is a difference of opinion [we will give] both sides. We want this paper to be a free for all.”9 Wilkinson later observed in his official history of BYU that the Y News was more critical of events on campus than was its predecessor.10
This editorial attitude, which persisted into the early 1930s, helped to instigate the paper’s first major run-in with the university administration. Sam Taylor, a feisty undergraduate and regular columnist, frequently wrote about controversial topics. For example, he once outlined a student bootlegging operation, providing details but no names. When administrators pressed him for sources, he refused. Such experiences and columns resulted p.in at least one suspension from school for Taylor and, ultimately, the order’ that he be removed from the paper’s staff.11 The Y News editor refused and, when pushed, announced: “[U]nder [the existing] situation, the only thing for me to do is resign, thus automatically removing the entire staff which I selected to work on a publication.”12 For the rest of the year, the paper was produced by student government officers and others. After this incident members of the faculty publications committee screened candidates for the position of editor; before a student’s name could be placed on the ballot, he or she had to obtain the committee’s endorsement.
In 1948 the Y News staff decided to change the paper’s name to B.Y. Universe. A year later the school’s publications committee began appointing editors for university publications instead of simply screening them.13 In 1955 the editors decided to begin publishing five days a week, and shortly thereafter the paper became the Daily Universe. Though the student publication finally had a name it would stick with, over the next three decades, during the presidencies of Ernest L. Wilkinson (1951-71) and Dallin H. Oaks (1971-80), the Universe would see its most pivotal changes, giving the paper the editorial sensibility it retains today. Throughout its entire history, the Universe has hosted contests over the free flow of information and expression for students, a principal avenue for playing out tensions between student freedom and administrative authority.
Ernest L. Wilkinson: Heed My Counsel
Early in his tenure as president, Wilkinson explained his vision of freedom for BYU’s press to one Universe editor. “The administration is in full agreement with a policy which provides for a maximum of freedom of expression for the Universe together with an accompanying sense of responsibility,” Wilkinson wrote. “The freedoms of every agency at work on the campus are freedoms exercised for the achievement of legitimate educational goals. They are freedoms which are delegated by the Board of Trustees of the University.”14 With this philosophy driving him, Wilkinson carefully read the Universe and frequently sent out memos outlining any concerns—both trivial and significant.15 During the 1960s, as student unrest played out over print media and air ways, many university papers across the nation went underground.16 As the decade wore on, Wilkinson, naturally concerned that BYU could be thrown off course, increased his grip on the campus.
Conflicts were inevitable. In November 1960 Universe editors prepared to publish a map of BYU’s land expansion plans, which included information on a controversial student housing project. When Ben E. Lewis, director of the school’s auxiliary services, learned of the article, he ordered the presses stopped and removed the map. An angry student editor wrote a column condemning the censorship. His piece never saw print; Lewis and a faculty advisor stopped its publication as well. In protest, the editor allowed a blank space to run where the editorial would have been.17 Perhaps in re-[p.75]sponse to such intervention, one student wrote to the editor the following month: “It has become apparent of late that the Daily Universe, purported to be ‘The Student Voice or Paper of BYU,’ is nothing more than a glorified ‘Pravda,’ Utah style … [and prints] only those things which are deemed good, nice or pleasant, … [keeping a] tight lid … on all that … ‘Big Brother’ wishes kept in the pot.”18
Wilkinson was preoccupied with how BYU appeared to the outside world. In March 1962, when the Universe ran an article about a string of burglaries committed by BYU students, he fired off a memo asking Ed Butterworth, chair of the student publications committee and personal assistant to Wilkinson, to explain. Wilkinson suggested that in the future the Universe run such stories without reporting BYU’s connection. “Naturally, I share your concern over negative publicity such as we received in the student burglary case,” Butterworth responded, but argued that “it would have been almost impossible not to mention BYU,” since all the defendants were BYU students, all were suspended from school, some of the “loot was taken from BYU, some of the loot was hidden in BYU residences,” and BYU security officers made the arrests. Butterworth defended the decision to run the story, adding that it was handled by the student editors in a mature fashion.19
The same Universe staff came under fire less than two weeks later when student editor Paul Richards, contrary to both publication board policy and faculty advisor counsel, ran an editorial endorsing a BYU student government presidential candidate.20 Richards, who would later serve as head of BYU public communications under three different presidents, was called before the publications board to explain his “insubordination.”21 Like Sam Taylor thirty years earlier, Richards submitted a letter of resignation, stating: “If editorial comment is to be curtailed, there is no need for an editor. An advertising staff can publish a bulletin board.”22 Richards said he wanted to prove an ethical point and set a precedent so that future Universe editors would have clear cut lines of editorial responsibility.23 Richards’s replacement praised him in a column for giving the campus newspaper some “editorial backbone.”24
Some faculty members cared deeply about what happened at the Universe. In April journalism instructor Ralph D. Barney wrote a lengthy letter to Butterworth lamenting that the paper had become “the manipulable tool of a gamut of university officials.” He said that the most common technique administrators used to control the Universe was withholding information. Barney was concerned about the university’s capricious acts of censorship, citing the suppression of the land expansion map as an example. “[C]ontinued incidents of this type have sapped the vigor of student newspaper workers to the extent that they have lost initiative and interest,” Barney wrote.25
In December 1963, as Wilkinson was making plans to run for the U.S. Senate, the Board of Student Publications, including Universe editor Bruce [p.76]Olsen, decided unanimously that the paper would not do anything to “hinder” the president’s efforts.26 While editors apparently kept that resolution, they did run afoul of Wilkinson a year later when the bid failed and he resumed duties as president. “President Wilkinson’s aspirations were first the U.S. Senate, then the law [referring to his Washington D.C. law practice] and then the Brigham Young University,” students editorialized.27 The idea that he had “used BYU as a stepping stone for politics”28 frustrated Wilkinson and others and prompted Earl C. Crockett, who had served as acting president during the campaign, to respond in an editorial of his own that Wilkinson had been “ASKED to resume the office” as president.29
Editors were not the only ones to watch their backs. Periodically the advertising staff came under fire, too.30 In December 1965 the Student Publications Board reaffirmed that the Universe would not accept advertising for off-campus events that “tend to oppose or undermine university policies.” The reiteration was primarily a reaction to recent ads promoting popular “stomp dances” and other “places where BYU standards” are not observed, the board noted.31
That June, anticipating the arrival of the fall’s Universe staff, Wilkinson suggested that J. Morris Richards, communications department chair, meet with the students early on to help them realize that “everything they do, both in the newspaper and individually, reflects for or against the university. Let’s try to get them to think they are here not to criticize, but to ennoble the institution,”32 Wilkinson encouraged. The Student Publications Board had already met the previous month to decide that it was incorrect to view the Universe as the voice of the students. The newspaper should be a “student publication,” but was “constantly on guard to protect the administration and the Church.”33
In 1966 BYU submitted to its once-a-decade review by the accreditation committee of the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities. The next year N. Eldon Tanner, a new counselor in the church’s First Presidency, suggested that the Universe print both sides of a controversy to prevent accusations of censorship.34 Wilkinson was concerned about maintaining religious and administrative authority as well as having the respect of the academy. “Of course, when we tell [the students] flatly they cannot publish something they say that they do not have freedom of speech, and they are unfortunately backed up in this by the Accreditation Committee, so we are still groping for a solution,” he wrote to one general authority.35
With these issues on his mind, early in 1968 Wilkinson appointed a seven-person committee to codify’ school policies regarding the Universe. “Just what amount of freedom should be given the editors in their expression of opinion?” he asked the committee rhetorically. “In this respect, the Brigham Young University is probably different than any university in the country, because the parents and also the Church membership as a whole, consider that anything published in the Universe is a reflection of the atti-[p.77]tude of the Church.”36 One idea to emerge from the committee’s work was the need for a training course for prospective editors. Lorin F. Wheelwright, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, suggested they select “top-flight people” and put them through a “rigorous” year of training in key departments, but the idea was never adopted.37 In March Wilkinson presented his ideas—including giving faculty editors control of the paper—as well as the committee’s findings to BYU’s board of trustees. The board decided that Wilkinson should “thoroughly investigate” all options and later present a concrete proposal.38 At least one board member expressed concern about changing the Universe from a student publication to a university newspaper. Elder Boyd K. Packer worried that the timing could be bad with “so much student unrest on campuses.”39
Wilkinson struggled during this period with a lack of confidence in Merwin Fairbanks, the Universe’s faculty advisor and publisher.40 Wilkinson wanted the advisor to read and approve every word in the paper until the publication had “gone to bed” each night.41 Despite a steady stream of memos and conversations, Fairbanks’s absence at night sometimes allowed undesirable items to slip into the paper. During the summer of 1968 Wilkinson asked Wheelwright to find a replacement for Fairbanks. Wheelwright reported back that no strong candidates had surfaced, but that he would work with Fairbanks on improving his performance.42 Wilkinson’s frustration with Fairbanks wouId continue to flair from time to time. For example, that September Wilkinson noted in his diary that he had met with Fairbanks, and Dean of Students J. Elliot Cameron to discuss what Wilkinson considered to be “incorrect headings and misplaced emphasis on [Universe] articles.” Wilkinson later recorded that “this developed into kind of a hot meeting between me and Fairbanks,” and that “he is always inclined to be combative and when two combative people get together the air gets warm.”43
Early in 1969 Fairbanks landed in more trouble when he allowed student editors to publish a series of articles on blacks and the university athletic program. Charges of racism in admission policies and other areas had long been a lightening rod at BYU. In the mid-1960s the church was receiving increased pressure to change its policy prohibiting black males from holding the priesthood (the ban was lifted in 1978). As tension rose locally and nationally, some black athletes refused to compete against BYU because of the LDS church’s “Black doctrine.” On occasion these protests turned into violent demonstrations.44
Regarding Universe coverage of this issue, Wilkinson wrote on one occasion: “[T]he lead article today indicated that Y students were in favor of recruiting Negroes. This, of course, indicated that the Negro has not been welcome, which is, of course, untrue.” Wilkinson summoned student editor-in-chief Glen Willardson to his office and “made it quite plain” that he had lost confidence in him. Wilkinson said they would need to meet again after he discussed the situation with his board of trustees.45 Wilkinson already [p.78]knew how the trustees would react: the previous year, following a string of letters and articles critical of the church’s stand on blacks, the board had sent him a missive stating that nothing “critical of the school or the Church should appear in this newspaper.”46
Indeed, LDS Apostle Delbert L. Stapley wrote to Wilkinson following this latest failure that he was “quite disturbed” by the articles. “It seems to me this is agitating and creating a problem that might add to our troubles. It seems to me the least said about this matter, the better off we are,” he wrote. “Why can’t this school leave such problems to the Board of Trustees to decide?”47 Stinging, Wilkinson busied himself by listing problems he identified with the Universe’s coverage and faculty who had been quoted. He also outlined possible actions that might prevent this sort of lapse from occurring again, including: “Discharge editor; Reprimand him and let him continue balance of year; At end of year put Universe under Department of Communications and have it issued hereafter as a school (not a student) newspaper.”48 Willardson stayed and the Universe, at least for the time being, remained a student paper.49
Another issue that irked Wilkinson regarded faculty members airing grievances or discussing controversial topics in the newspaper. After one faculty member in late 1968 wrote on one of Wilkinson’s taboo topics, Wilkinson contacted Robert K. Thomas, another university vice president, “You will recall that the year I was away President McKay asked Earl Crockett to request the faculty not to discuss the Negro question or the John Birch Society, either for or against …. [W]e ought to renew our policy against faculty members running to the newspapers.”50 Faculty criticism would again become a concern that spring when several professors openly disagreed with statements made on “sensitivity training” in several talks during October’s LDS general conference. The board of trustees decided that “instead of disciplining said faculty members, it would be wise to counsel with them in an attempt to give them a better understanding of the subjects in question.”51
These repeated embarrassments wore on Wilkinson. He told Wheelwright that he had grown to dislike going to board meetings because he knew he would have to respond to complaints about the Universe.52 Wilkinson also became convinced that the best course of action would be to remove the Universe from student control. Apostle Stapley agreed, writing to Wilkinson early in 1969: “I am impressed with the fact that the Daily Universe must be owned and controlled by the school, and its editorials carefully screened …. [W]e should have tight control over all that relates to Church doctrines, standards, and ideals on the part of students at the Y.” He added, in a passage indicative of the fear of secularization that Wilkinson and others felt,
I am sure we must be careful in handling these delicate situations, but we cannot afford to let our school deteriorate as so many of the schools of the country are. Our ideals, principles and standards must be maintained, but in the spirit of love and kindness, yet fineness dealing with the offenders. [p.79]The Church has much to gain with an exemplary school, and much to lose if all the Church stands for is ignored by either the students or faculty.53
Some student editors and reporters proved to be particularly sharp thorns in Wilkinson’s side. For example, in March 1969 Judy Geisler took issue with the U.S. News and World Report’s assessment that as campuses across the nation were gripped by student unrest and protests, BYU was one “university without problems.” Geisler editorialized that, in fact, the university was “facing a serious intellectual crisis—as does any community which denies tolerance to one segment of its population.”54 This was not the first time Geisler had irritated Wilkinson. Several months earlier Fairbanks had assured Wilkinson that Geisler was becoming more “objective” in her reporting and would refrain from her predilection for editorializing.55 “She has given us trouble now for two years and will continue to do so,” Wilkinson wrote.56 “I will surely be glad when this year is over and we have an end of the left-wing articles of Judy Geisler.”57 As it turned out, Wilkinson would not have to wait that long. Geisler left BYU several months later. “My one major regret about my years at BYU is that I failed to reach this decision two years ago,”58 she wrote to Wilkinson on her way out.
Near the end of his tenure as president, Wilkinson began in earnest to move the Universe under the jurisdiction of the communications department. In April 1969 he met with Universe faculty advisors and student editors to announce that they would be hiring a full-time newspaper man to “supervise the entire operation.” Wilkinson hoped that with this change the Universe would “represent all publics other than just the students.” He recorded in his diary that the editor “accepted this in good grace and pledged himself to that end.”59
Another key change was made that June: Universe and school officials decided that when the Universe received letters complaining about BYU administrators, faculty, or staff, editors would be required to take the complaints to the named party, “obtain the facts,” and then relay them to the original letter writer. With that accomplished, the Universe would be permitted to publish the criticism and its answer. But in “serious cases [the editor] will consult the President of the University as to what procedure he should follow,” the group decided. Fittingly, the letters to the editor section would now be called “Questions and Answers.” Some traditional letters would still be allowed to run, but only if they contained “constructive suggestions for improvement.”60 This was not the first time Wilkinson had tried to manage letters to the editor. Earlier that year he asked one of his assistants, Stephen R. Covey,61 to prepare a “careful answer” to an editorial attacking capitalism and “find some way of getting it in the Universe under some student’s name.62
During the summer of 1969 Wheelwright wrote Wilkinson a lengthy memo responding to Wilkinson’s desire to further codify Universe policy. [p.80]Among the policies proposed were: “The Daily Universe shall print the truth or remain silent”; “The Daily Universe shall help the president of the university maintain the affection and respect of students and sustain the standards of the institution …”; “The Daily Universe shall be responsive to the wishes of the Trustees regarding the appropriateness of certain issues for publication by a Church institution.” Wheelwright outlined those topics “unsuitable” for publication, including “war, morals, economics, social problems, law, crime and punishment. housing,” as well as:
• advocacy of communism, socialism, fascism and other extremist doctrines or systems of government
• advocacy of apostate religious doctrines or sects
• advocacy of ideas, programs, or actions contrary to the declared purposes of the university
• advocacy of birth control, illicit sex, drug abuse, illegal procedures, invasion of privacy, and other anti-social practices
• debate on the validity of the LOS Church doctrine
• ridicule of university and Church leaders
• other issues as may be identified by the Board ofTrustees.63
That fall new Universe editor Pierre Hathaway set the tone for his staff, tongue perhaps firmly in cheek, when he announced: “As editor and chief of the Daily Universe I believe our goal should be to report the news, the activities and the happenings at BYU in a manner that would be pleasing to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Prophet David O. McKay, the General Authorities of the Church, our University President Ernest Wilkinson, and the full time staff of the University.”64 Not only would Wilkinson and Hathaway have several run-ins, so would Wilkinson and ASBYU president Ken Kartchner. (Wilkinson’s history of BYU identifies Kartchner by name and reports that during his and Hathaway’s tenures the Universe “frequently criticized the school administration and its conservative viewpoint.”65) Wilkinson was aware of the influence the Universe could have in certain students’ hands—influence he did not want to relinquish. He also did not want to incite further run-ins with church leaders and trustees.
Nonetheless, the school year started off as others had. “I was shocked,” Wilkinson wrote to Wheelwright in September, to receive yesterday’s Universe “in which the first page is given over to a group with long hair and beards. Can’t we avoid things of this nature which we agreed we would avoid?” Wilkinson reminded Wheelwright that it was Fairbanks’s job to see that such slip-ups not occur.66 Fairbanks’s stock dropped again several days later when Wilkinson complained that the rock band the Ventures, “with their grotesque beards and garb,” had been given front-page space. “When oh when are we going to get away from this?” he wanted to know.67 (For Wilkinson’s views on dress and grooming standards, see chap. 4.)
[p.81]By the end of September 1969, clearly frustrated, Wheelwright wrote to Wilkinson that he was sorry the president had to bear the “pain of anguish over the Daily Universe.” “I want to please you and do a good job in this unsolicited assignment,”68 Wheelwright told Wilkinson, asking for a list of “the specific kinds of advertisements, pictures, headlines, news angles, etc. that annoy you in the Universe.” He also asked Wilkinson to be “frank”: “do you want a professional, administration-edited paper? If so, let’s say so and proceed accordingly.” Wheelwright cautioned, however, that if they were to take that path, they should “expect some form of underground student paper to arise with a tremendous following.” At the same time, he asked, if such a change is not made, “can you live with the inevitable irritation of not having things said just the way you want them said?” Wheelwright added that he was looking for a replacement for Fairbanks, but had not had much luck—the “aura surrounding this job is negative,” he explained.69 Wilkinson replied that he did not want a professional, administration—edited paper, but one that followed the church’s 13th Article of Faith: “if there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report, we seek after these things.” It was a philosophy he wanted in place as soon as possible, since “[i]t would be almost impossible to put it into effect … with a hostile editor.”70
In January 1970 Wilkinson again found himself in a situation he loathed: another run-in with the general authorities. This time he had to explain in detail to N. Eldon Tanner the reason the Daily Universe had printed a news item that Tanner himself had twice told Wilkinson not to run. The article was a “restatement” of the church’s position on the “Negro’s” role in “society and in the Church.”71 When the statement was initially circulated, Wilkinson had asked Tanner if the Universe could print it; Tanner had told him that the First Presidency “had discussed this matter and decided against it.”72 Wilkinson informed Hathaway of Tanner’s injunction. When Wilkinson later learned the Deseret News would be publishing it, he called Tanner “and was again told that they preferred it be restricted to the News.”73 Nonetheless, the statement soon appeared on the front page of the Universe. Miffed that his instructions had been ignored and concerned over what Tanner might think, Wilkinson wrote Wheelwright: “Now I do not agree with the ban on publication of this … but the test of loyalty is to support the Brethren whether or not we agree with them.”74
Hathaway was compelled to resign the following month due to what one advisor called “gross irresponsibility” in his choice of topics reported, editorials, and letters to the editor.75 Hathaway’s brief, fiery tenure was fueled by his and his staffs frustration over Wilkinson’s tight grip on the campus: during this period, Wilkinson was preoccupied in general with student dissent, causing him to tighten dress and grooming standards and to take honor code administration away from the students (see chap. 4).76
In addition to Wilkinson and the general authorities, the Universe had many other publics to please. One vocal critic was religion professor Hyrum [p.82]Andrus. Like Wilkinson, Andrus was concerned with the Universe’s “leftist” inclinations. In March 1970 he wrote to Wilkinson, “I am sure you have been aware of the liberal leanings of the Daily Universe this year …. It seems to me that particularly in periods like this one we are passing through, it would be advantageous to have an intelligent young man in [as editor], who is aware of the insidious ways of the so-called liberal element.”77 Andrus then suggested that Universe administrators give Paul James Toscano serious consideration for the position.78 While Toscano, then a graduate student, was passed over for Universe editor, he was named editor of the new issues oriented supplement to the Universe, the Monday Magazine.79
Another public the Universe conflicted with from time to time was student life officials. Also in March 1970 student Reed Halladay, vice president of the social office, in an effort to promote an up-coming Henry Mancini concert, submitted a press release to the student paper. When the Universe did not treat the event as “first-class news,” he was infuriated. “I cannot beg to have the coverage in the Daily Universe, but I can demand that the Publications Board take the necessary action when the need arises,” he wrote. “This I am doing. Please see that something gets done this time. We are not bitter, we are not even militant, we are just disgusted.”80
As with the “Negro question,” another hot button for Wilkinson was the charge that his school and Mormons in general were not hospitable to other faiths. In May 1970 the Universe ran a two-part series on non-Mormon discrimination in Utah Valley. Subsequent letters to the editor ranged from praising the articles as accurate to complaining of their obvious bias. “[President Joseph Fielding] Smith’s office called me in today and were [sic] quite critical of the two articles having to do with the intolerance of Mormons in Utah. I was sure I would get reverberations from this quarter,” Wilkinson wrote to Wheelwright. Wilkinson said he hoped Wheelwright would work to “control the situation so that we won’t have more articles that will embarrass us,”81 and later asked him if it would be possible for “the editor himself or someone else to editorialize against the viewpoint taken in these two articles? There is absolutely no proof that politically we are intolerant in this state.”82 Perhaps responding to some of the tactics used by Wilkinson, in June 1970 the First Presidency cautioned those who oversaw the student paper not to do anything “in the management of the Daily Universe … or [say] anything which could be misinterpreted as an improper suppression of student thoughts and attitudes.” As they had three years earlier, the church leaders expressed concern that “nothing be done which would jeopardize the good standing of the university as a result of inquiries made by the accreditation teams which periodically check into conditions on campus.”83 Apparently oblivious to his contradictory stances on the subject, Wilkinson responded that he did not intend to pursue any policy “which could be construed as censorship of student views.”84
[p.83]Dallin H. Oaks: Tightening the Reins
One of Ernest Wilkinson’s defining characteristics as president was his feeling that he should not have to codify rigid campus policies—students and faculty should simply listen to his speeches, read his memos, and willingly comply. But his successor, Dallin H. Oaks, while sounding more lenient than Wilkinson in some respects, actually tightened enforcement in several areas, including supervision of the Daily Universe. In 1972 he oversaw the formal transference of the paper from student jurisdiction to the communications department, a move “some students, along with some members of the off-campus media community, viewed … as a ‘faculty take-over,’” according to Wilkinson’s official history.85 The department chair was named publisher and faculty were given the positions of “executive editor,” “business manager,” “photography editor,” and later “editorial page director.”86 The position of faculty advisor was discontinued and a full-time, non-student “general manager,” Rodger Dean Duncan, supervised the entire operation. (Duncan had joined the paper as an advisor in 1970 when Fairbanks left on sabbatical.) The student “editor-in-chief’ position was eliminated; the managing editor was the only top position still reserved for students.87
Some letters to the editor attacked the Universe over its management changes. Defending the lab system, one student editor responded that this would “put a long overdue emphasis on professional help and supervision from faculty members who teach journalism” and who are just as committed to a “quest for printing the truth.”88 One administrator outlined the mission of the Universe in his “Publication Policies”:
The goal shall be to give balanced consideration to the various sides and views of news developments, to give sensitive, considerate attention to issues and developments which may potentially distort or misrepresent the church and kingdom of God.
At the same time it is understood that the Universe has a responsibility to respect points of view, developments and issues which are not in harmony with the philosophy of the church. In so doing the objective shall be to inform rather than to promote or defend such views.89
Working for the Universe was no longer an extracurricular activity; it was required of all journalism majors.90 Bruce Olsen, director of university relations, said that the new system made for “a better newspaper and a better education for the students.” Clearly there were weaknesses, including the fact that now some members of the student body were “shut out” from the Universe staff, Olsen said (something that would later fuel the rise of several of the underground newspapers that Wheelwright feared).91 Nonetheless, Wilkinson was proud to point out that after its first semester twenty-one students, including many Universe editors, signed a letter acknowledging that they were “converted” to the benefits of a lab paper.92
In February 1972, as he had done for Wilkinson two and a half years [p.84]earlier, Wheelwright compiled for Oaks a list of taboo topics that “could cause embarrassment to the Church or the University”:
• Negro and the priesthood and other racial problems
• Sex education, pornography, nudity
• Birth control
• Personal stories on church leaders involving age, health, children, et
• Confidential church and university information such as finances, appointments, council meetings, ecclesiastical tribunals, embarrassing incidents both historical and current
• Communist propaganda and John Birch Society propaganda
• Church policies regarding the war in Vietnam
• Evolution and claims of science in conflict with beliefs of church leaders
• Church censorship (as had been done with ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar”)
• Acid rock music, nude painting, et cetera.93
Oaks cautioned Wheelwright to make sure that anyone who had access to the list understand its purpose, spirit, and objectives. “Otherwise, the list itself will leak out sometime and may prove the basis for an unfavorable story in the media.”
Oaks’s first major conflict with the Universe’s student journalists occurred the following year, in 1973. Fourteen staffers sent Oaks and the local media a letter complaining that the “control-the-news” attitude of their superiors had squelched several recent stories. Oaks was angry that the letter had been released to the press, calling the action “a breach of professional ethics and a violation of personal trust.”95
While the late 1960s’ question-and-answer format of the letters-to-the-editor section had not endured, a policy of having faculty advisors check “sensitive” letters had been instituted. In 1977 a letter that discussed the university’s no-beards policy (see chap. 4) embarrassed Oaks, and another layer of review was implemented, assuring that all letters would now be read prior to publication by both a faculty instructor and Dallas Burnett, faculty Universe publisher.96
In March 1978 the U.S. Justice Department threatened to sue BYU and more than thirty Provo-area landlords for violating federal fair housing laws. BYU’s policy then and now is that single men and women cannot live in the same off campus buildings. The Universe asked students to comment on the fairness of the policy and on the possible lawsuit. But the results of the poll were not published, as had been planned. BYU officials stepped in and asked student editors not to run them, explaining that the Universe should steer clear of the “news making process.”97
[p.85]April the paper butted heads with Oaks again, this time over the heated Equal Rights Amendment debates (see chap. 2). After learning that several pro-ERA professional and academic associations would boycott states that refused to ratify the amendment, Oaks sent a letter to some of the groups, threatening to revoke BYU’s membership. “We at Brigham Young University cannot support this action,” he wrote, “and we are embarrassed to have membership in an organization that engages in such a repressive tactic” as a boycott.98 After a student editor at the Universe criticized his reasoning, Oaks reprimanded her and instructed the paper’s faculty advisors to prevent publication of editorials or letters opposed to his stance.”99 During the winter of 1979 student editors found that while steering clear of the news-making process was not always easy, it at least could be humorous. In December the Universe ran a front-page picture of a makeshift Christmas tree that employees in BYU’s security office had decorated with lights and tinsel. The “tree” was actually a three-foot-high marijuana plant that officers had seized as evidence in a local drug raid. In their defense, chagrined employees said they had dreamed up the cannabis Christmas only because Chief Robert Kelshaw was too cheap to buy a real tree. BYU was embarrassed by the ensuing publicity, circled its wagons, and even refused church-owned KSL’s request to film the tree. A local radio station was denied an interview with Kelshaw, and the Associated Press reported that “[e]ven the managing editor of the Daily Universe refused comment.”100 Also in 1979 Universe reporters exposed BYU Food Services for serving flavored turkey advertised as ham, bologna, and hot dogs.101 This would be just one of several run-ins between the two organizations over the years.
Oaks, like his predecessors, received his share of pressure from the board of trustees. For example, also in 1979, Apostle Boyd K. Packer wrote: “I have read three articles in the last few weeks that I think may be somewhat out of spirit with what might represent the editorial policy of a university operated by the Church …. Is something happening to the Universe? Does not a paper usually have an editorial policy?”102
Seven years after Oaks’s first major run-in with the Universe, history repeated itself. In 1980 twelve student editors wrote of the “paternalistic attitude which precludes student participation in decisions which most vitally affect them.” They protested that communications faculty feared “administrative retribution,” resulting in an “inconsistent position of teaching freedom of the press in the classroom and censoring in the newsroom.” As an example, students cited the censorship of an Associated Press story on Mormon ERA activist Sonia Johnson because one faculty member did not “want to answer to the First Presidency” about it. The students asserted that, as things stand, they “succeed most often in spite of the program rather than because of it.”103 Oaks responded that he had “a policy of not communicating with members of the university community through the pages of any newspap-[p.86]What has already been published in the public press … on this issue is the only formal reply you will receive on the subject.”104
Such incidents prompted Oaks to “contemplate possible changes in the structure and operation of the Daily Universe.” He formed a nine-member committee to evaluate the paper. One recommendation that was closely considered was to make the Universe an internship program only for serious, qualified journalism students, rather than a requirement for all communications students.105 By some reports, though, the committee was not very successful. According to committee chair David Sorenson, leaks abounded and some journalism students and faculty committee members became entrenched in their own ideas, refusing to explore other perspectives. He was also concerned about low student morale: “At present the students seem to feel beaten down and are planning to be submissive. They see the faculty as too powerful to fight and have concluded that the best thing is to submit and not jeopardize their status or degree. They have little enthusiasm for the future,” he wrote.106 Committee members also reported to Sorenson conversations they had had with journalism faculty “who do not value the work being done by the committee and its involvement in the business of the department.”107
Sharp Pens: BYU’s Editorial Cartoonists
Notwithstanding pockets of low student morale, the Universe has developed a number of notable journalists over the years—for example, Dale Van Atta,108 who inherited Jack Anderson’s “Washington Merry Go Round” column, and Vern Anderson, now with the Associated Press. But the student paper more often shines in its editorial cartoons. That tradition began in the early 1970s with Calvin Grondahl and has continued into the 1990s with John deRosier and others.109 Grondahl, considered by many to be the father of Mormon cartoons, worked at the Universe for a few years in the early 1970s before taking a job with LDS church-owned Deseret News. He left that paper in 1986 over censorship issues, landing at the Ogden Standard-Examiner, where he is now free to draw what he wants. Grondahl says he likes to push the envelope “a little bit without going over the edge” —although that can be hard to gauge sometimes, as when his cartoon book Utah: Sex and Travel Guide was banned by LDS church-owned Deseret Book in 1993.110
The next two starrs arrived several years after Grondahl left: Steve Benson in 1976 and Pat Bagley in 1978. For close to a year they were both Universe staffers at the same time.111 BYU’s got so many sacred cows that is multiplies the number of targets you can take potshots at,” Bagley told one reporter fifteen years later. He said the honor code encouraged rebellion among satirists such as Benson and himself:112 “[At BYU], the only dissent you could get away with was in a political cartoon, because it was cloaked in humor.”113 Bagley graduated in 1979 and went to work for the Salt Lake [p.87]Tribune, where he remains today. Like Grondahl, he has published several popular books of Mormon cartoons.
Benson also graduated in 1979. Shortly thereafter he landed a position with the Arizona Republic. Benson defines a good cartoon as one that has a “moral purpose. If we can make them laugh, that’s fine,” he says. “But first and foremost, we ought to be delivering a message.”114 Benson, grandson of late LDS church president Ezra Taft Benson, is often more cutting in his work than either Grondahl or Bagley. Over the years, as he became more and more disenchanted with the LDS church, his pen grew sharper—especially when aimed at certain LDS targets such as impeached Arizona governor Evan Mecham.115 In one cartoon Benson depicted Mecham as an avenging angel carrying the “Book of Moron” [sic]. The cartoon infuriated Arizona Mormons and ultimately led to Benson’s resignation in 1989 from his church leadership role as a stake high councilor.116 From that point on, Benson’s relationship with the church further deteriorated.
In April 1993 Benson won the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning,117 Several months later, after Benson had publicly denounced church reports that his grandfather was healthy enough to function as head of the faith, BYU Today, the school’s alumni magazine, decided to drop a feature article about the cartoonist that was ready to run.118 That fall Benson announced that he and his wife were leaving the church. “In order to be truly obedient, one must be allowed the right to think, question, doubt, and search for truth,” Benson explained. “The modern church is intolerant of these God-given rights …. I didn’t leave the church. The church left me.”119 (See chap. 7 for more on these events.)
About three years later, in August 1996, the Universe decided to phase out Benson’s syndicated cartoon from its pages. Faculty advisor John Gholdston said that much of Benson’s recent work was not fit for the student publication. As an example, he cited a cartoon of a muscular army drill sergeant demonstrating a push-up while positioned over a female soldier. “That’s just too graphic and brutal for most of our audience,” Gholdston said.120 He also said intermittent complaints from readers and Benson’s antagonism toward the LDS church were factors in the decision.121
The two most recent additions to BYU’s list of talented editorial cartoonists are John deRosier and Aaron Taylor. DeRosier says he came to BYU “mostly because of the cartooning tradition.”123 From 1991 to 1993, deRosier skewered BYU officials over housing policies, campus attitudes on rape, academic freedom, scholarship policies, and more. On the way he picked up national honors including the 1993 Charles M. Schultz Award, the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) National 1992 Mark of Excellence Award, as well as two state-level SPJ awards in 1992 and 1993. After graduating, he took a position with the Mobile Press Register in Alabama. In 1994 Taylor filled the vacancy left by deRosier. Gholdston has said that Taylor is on track to becoming just as successful as the cartoonists who pre-[p.88]ceded him. In 1997 he was named the top college cartoonist in North America, winning the John Locher Memorial Award from the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.124
Jeffrey R. Holland: Managing Independent Information
Over the years a number of underground papers appeared on campus including the Student Statesman (1962), The Olive Leaf (1968), Zion’s Opinion (1969), Logos (1969), and The Centennial Free Press (1975)125 Early in Jeffrey R. Holland’s tenure as BYU president, as prophesied by Lorin Wheelwright, one significant independent newspaper, the Seventh East Press, appeared on campus to more success and a broader audience than its predecessors. In 1981 student Ron Priddis sold his car to get the enterprise off the ground. He brought on a group of talented students including Elbert Peck, Gary Bergera, Anthony Schmidt, Scott Dunn, and Maxine Hanks. The paper was supported by subscriptions ($2.50 a semester), campus sales (a dime a copy), advertisements (Hanks was the primary sales person), and donations. Peck, the publication’s editor, explained that the Seventh East Press would not cover breaking news; it would be a more thoughtful forum for student opinion, essays, and analysis.126 It became known for its treatment of sometimes controversial topics in Mormon history. Nonetheless, the Universe treated the Press as a rival from the onset, refusing to run an advertisement recruiting editors and writers. “The Universe has enough competition as it is,” said Dallas Burnett, the faculty executive editor; however, Burnett’s decision was overturned by BYU administrators, who not only approved the ad but also allowed the paper to be distributed on campus—as long as the content did not violate the honor code.127
The Press’s sanctioned status would not last long. In February 1983 the university forced the paper off campus following the publication of several controversial pieces, including one on a former church leader who was reportedly a homosexual and an interview with Sterling McMurrin, a University of Utah philosophy professor and former U.S. commissioner of education. In the interview McMurrin talked about the church’s policies of limiting access to historical documents it might find embarrassing and also said he did not believe the Book of Mormon to be an ancient text. “We’re withdrawing permission for them to distribute on campus,” said BYU spokesman Paul Richards, who specifically mentioned the McMurrin interview as problematic.128 “The paper was not in good taste and offended our sponsor, which is the LDS Church.”129
Dean Huffaker, the Press’s editor at the time, said the newspaper had reached a circulation of 4,000. He thought that initially the ban’s publicity had helped the paper. But later, with 40 percent of the publication’s revenue coming from on-campus sales, he said it would “definitely hurt us unless we find something else.” Huffaker actually had bigger things to worry about. Shortly thereafter, the Associated Students of BYU (ASBYU), which had [p.89]filled half of the Press’s advertising pages, cut its ties with the publication. Not that the Press was ever in the black—editors said the unofficial newspaper had lost money on all but two of the twenty-five issues it had produced.130 Students pulled the plug on the ailing paper in mid-1983.
University officials felt some immediate fallout from their decision. Tim Kelly, managing editor of the Denver Post, backed out of a two-day “Editor in Residence” engagement with BYU’s communications department. He said BYU had violated the First Amendment by banning the Press. “It’s too bad the only voice at the institution will be the sanctioned voice of the church. The feeling I get about BYU is, if you don’t toe the line, you can be stomped on,” he said.131 He told the crowd that he had heard from three sources that the decision to kick the independent paper off campus came from the “top levels of the Church.”132 Kelly added that he had recently received a letter from a BYU professor who wrote, “Thank you so much for having the courage to refuse to come …. Our faculty has virtually no power to make themselves heard. They depend on outside persons like you to make their point.”133 Other fallout was felt in August 1983 when the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges said that while exiling the publication was not enough to threaten BYU’s accreditation, “If the practice of banning conflicting points of view becomes widespread and restricted [sic] faculty and students in their pursuit of truth, the accreditation of an institution is jeopardized.”134
The issue of censoring others’ views came up again several years later when the Universe became embroiled in BYU’s infamous “Cockroach Controversy.” Late one night just before Thanksgiving 1985, student janitors, who were in charge of cleaning the seating area of the Wilkinson Center Cougareat, were disgusted to discover scores of cockroaches scurrying across cafeteria floors and counters. The Universe published a letter describing the scene, signed by twelve custodians, along with an editorial cartoon announcing the Cougareat’s new ice cream flavors, “Cucaracha Ripple” and “Cootie Fruity.” “With thoughtful reflection on the consequences to the Cougareat’s business, we will make it known that within a fifteen minute period of time on the night of Nov. 6 our custodial crew killed sixty-seven cockroaches by the ice cream area. Cockroaches were climbing over and through the utensils, the drink areas and the food preparation counters,” the students wrote. “Although it is not our responsibility to clean the food preparation area, it is our responsibility to at least inform other students of these conditions.”135
The janitors’ boss took swift action. Richard Aland, support services administrator of student programs, replied to their letter with his own. He wrote that he took their letter as “an act of insubordination” and told them that they “should have gone through the proper channels.” “Because of this irresponsible act on your part, it is necessary to inform you that you are now on probation as far as your employment here is concerned,” Aland wrote. “Any further actions or questions on your part will result in your immediate [p.90]termination.” Aland also sent each student who had been involved a copy of the letter that had been published by the Universe.136 BYU spokesperson Brent Harker, in an interview with the Associated Press, explained that “Everybody has a right to free speech, but … [the students] were not forced to go to the Universe and express themselves. They had full freedom to go to their supervisors directly.” Harker also extended an olive branch: if the twelve students apologized to their supervisors, their jobs would be saved and the letters of reprimand removed from their files. “There will be no permanent mark on their careers,” Harker assured them. Five of the twelve students took the deal.137
Others were less anxious to cooperate. In a rare and lively protest, more than fifty people chanting “save the roach revealers!”—many of them first year law students—marched across campus and into the Cougareat. One student, who had dressed in a roach costume, sidled up to the ice-cream bar and loudly ordered “rocky roach.”138 At the same time, the Universe took administrators to task over the incident. “To threaten to fire the students should be viewed as questionable by anyone who honors the right to tell the truth,” editors wrote. “It is wrong for the custodians to be coerced, through threats to their jobs, into writing letters of apology and refusing to speak to the press. It is a serious breach of freedom of speech. Though it is probably legal, its morality clings to a falling tightrope.”139 Wanting the public brouhaha to go away, university administrators soon told Jeff Nielsen, John Bennion (who wrote the original offending letter), and other custodians who had refused to apologize that their jobs would be protected and that the letters of reprimand would be removed from their files.140 Harker would later call the handling of the “cockroach controversy” one of the school’s most memorable failures. “It was one of those famous BYU shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stories,” he said.141
That spring, highlighting tensions that occasionally flair between the student paper and the university’s student service organization,142 the Universe reported on a draft proposal from the ASBYU attorney general’s office recommending that the newspaper be moved from the communications department to the jurisdiction of the President’s Council, which included BYU president Jeffrey Holland.143 Through the move, ASBYU hoped to improve the “content, dignity, style, news coverage, practical experience for students and credibility” of the paper. ASBYU wrote that “many articles in The Daily Universe are of little interest to the reading audience.” ASBYU proposed that reporters visit them at least weekly and write on each ASBYU office. The proposal also suggested that two full-time faculty advisors be hired and that the laboratory function of the paper be revised to give editorial positions only to students with demonstrable ability.144 The Universe countered that it had already hired “five professional journalists who come in on a rotating, daily basis to assist student reporters.” In addition, to restrict the Universe to “experienced” students only would void the purpose of a lab: to give [p.91]all students the needed experience covering beats in an atmosphere like that at commercial newspapers.145 The changes were never adopted.
The same year—1986—saw the genesis of another independent newspaper, Student Review. The nucleus of the Review’s staff had worked for Insight, the BYU honors program’s student journal. Bill Kelly, the Review’s first publisher and now a Portland, Oregon, businessman, recalls that students were frustrated by Insight’s limited input and appeal. The students were also irked that the Daily Universe offered little experience to non-journalism students. One of the Insight staffers, Brian (BJ) Fogg, eventually took action, plastering the campus with fliers asking, “Tired of the Universe?” and announcing a meeting to organize an alternative student forum.
Sixty or seventy students came, encouraging Fogg and Roger Leishman, the paper’s first editor and currently a gay rights lawyer for the ACLU in Chicago. Editors stated from the onset that they wanted to avoid the mistakes made by the Seventh East Press and met early on with university officials to discuss the possibility of on-campus distribution. The request was denied, largely due to the controversial demise of its predecessor. Nonetheless, the independent paper’s staff met on campus in the Karl G. Maeser building something honors program officials allowed until 1993-94.146 While the Review’s off-campus status has provided most of its financial challenges, “it’s also given staff members the siege mentality necessary to make an independent publication work,” former Review editor Bryan Waterman has pointed out.147
The staffs own move to distance itself from the Press included eliminating almost all religious issues. According to a study by a former Review publisher, during its first four years 70 percent of the publication’s content was conservative. In fact, the content analysis indicates that the Review did not run a single article in the first year that was critical of BYU.148 That gradually changed, and the introduction of a religion page in 1989 led to numerous controversial pieces.
The Review had an instant advantage over all of its predecessors: relatively inexpensive personal computers, desktop publishing software, and the campus facilities that made these widely available. That and a small but regular advertising base allowed the Review to come out often—usually once a week during the school year, once a month in the summer—at no cost to readers. While Press staffers had only mocked the Universe under their breath, the Review took the rivalry to new heights by producing an annual “Daily Unifarce”149 issue—often a smart, searing parody that many students looked forward to (including some Universe staffers).150
Occasionally the Review would get the Universe into trouble. For example, in April 1988, SR staffers had friends at the Universe “borrow” some photographs from the student paper’s archives. When the issue of the Review came out containing the photographs, Universe editor Brian T. West was shocked. In a letter to President Holland he wrote:
You may have recognized photos in the current issue of the Student Review of your family and of President Stohlton as having originally appeared in The Daily Universe.
We are anxious for you and President Stohlton to know that we were nonplused about their being used in the April Fools edition of the Review. We neither authorized nor knew about that use. … I am particularly distressed since the photograph of you and your ‘wife was taken for the interview you granted me. … We are working hard to maintain a professional and responsible newspaper with the type of higher journalism that sets BYU apart. We appreciate your support and do not want you to believe that we were in any manner party to the derisive material in the Review.151
Like Dallas Burnett had with the Seventh East Press, John Gholdston considered the Review a competitor to the Universe. For paid staffers, a clearly stated rule was that one could work either for the Universe or for the Review, but not for both at the same time. A few writers would slide back and forth between the two publications—sometimes needing the money that only a Universe position paid; other times relishing the freedom that only the Review afforded.152 Political science student Russell Fox, however, was one editor who tested the Universe’s policy. Fox had been involved with the Review and the Universe before accepting a paid position with the latter in the summer of 1992. He did a good job as city editor, and that fall the position of political editor was created for him. What the Universe did not know was that at the same time Fox was also a volunteer editor at the Review—under the pseudonym Michael Ho. While faculty advisors and Fox had had a few mild run-ins during the semester,153 it was not until election day itself—as Fox was organizing the complicated network of reporters, photographers, and copy editors who would be putting together the Universe’s coverage—that Gholdston learned of Fox’s secret identity. Fox was fired on the spot and Universe editor—in-chief David Farnworth and others assumed control of the effort.
Over the years the independent Review has been able to publish on some topics the Universe cannot including critical discussions of Mother in Heaven, the honor code, and extended looks at academic freedom. Many credit the newspaper for being instrumental in turning the tide against congressional candidate and BYU faculty member Karl Snow in 1990 by investigating His business practices. In 1994 the Review received publicity—some welcome, some not—over an article, previously rejected by the Universe, on BYU athletes and the honor code. Some SR staffers received threatening phone calls, and over half of the 3,000 issues containing the expose were stolen from various off-campus distribution sites.154
Over time, circulation for the independent plummeted from a high of 10,000 to 2,500. Although articles on feminism—abortion, in particular drove a wedge between the paper and the conservative campus, the most enduring controversial topic has been homosexuality. Beginning in 1990, gay issues took up much space in the Review; even the Universe covered gay [p.93]issues during this period, leading in part to the latter’s being viewed as a conservative counterpart to the Review. “As conservative voices increasing found a forum in the official university newspaper, to some degree … they no longer needed or wanted the Review,” observed one Review editor.155
Today the paper still runs, although sporadically and often in the red. Editors worry that the magazine is not read by many of the campus’s increasingly conservative students. Nonetheless, it has its faithful supporters such as Eugene England, recently retired professor of English and co-founder of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. “[The Review] has a very important educational mission as an alternative to the official, strictly controlled Daily Universe,” England told one reporter in 1997. “This is especially important right now, when we are going through a period of great pressure toward conservative cultural and political correctness.”156 And while BYU administrators have not traditionally welcomed the against-the odds resilience of the Review, they say they are not “in an adversarial position” with the newspaper. “We don’t necessarily agree with what they print, but that’s their right under freedom of the press, I suppose,” Alton Wade, vice president for student life, has said.157
Defining What’s Fit to Print
Competition has pushed the Universe beyond some of its normal boundaries. In the spring of 1987 a Universe investigation discovered irregularities in a study sponsored by BYU’s athletic department. According to the Universe, athletes received therapy that included dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) from school trainers two years after the school had banned the liniment. DMSO, a topical treatment for soft-tissue injuries like sprains and pulled muscles, was often used on livestock but had not been federally approved for humans. A research company had apparently paid individuals associated with sports medicine at BYU $16,500 in 1981 to conduct the study with some of the school’s athletes. Not only did the Universe uncover the liniment’s unauthorized use, but in contacting twenty-eight of the 107 student athletes involved in the research, it learned that only nine had received the $50-$100 payment from the study’s BYU administrators.158
This was not the first time the Universe had investigated questionable activities in the training room. Also in 1987, following a string of scandals over the previous few years-including players arrested on felony charges of pain-killer prescription fraud and the dismissal of a well-liked doctor associated with the team—BYU dean of physical education Clayne Jensen talked the Universe out of printing a series of critical articles. The reporters ended up presenting their findings in a private report to school administrators.159
Not only investigative journalism, but routine reporting has brought trouble to the Universe. Indeed, as with most media outlets, the Universe is occasionally accused of facilitating “copy cat crimes.” For example, in Sep-[p.94]tember 1988 an article on a student food fight prompted a letter of complaint. “We were alarmed at the article in today’s Daily Universe,” Sam Brooks of Food Services wrote. “Both of the full time employees quoted in this article … requested that Miss [Alisa Y.] Kim not produce such an article.” Brooks also complained that Kim had made up quotes, continuing,
In our opinion, a message, “How to create a food fight,” was explicitly spelled out in this article. While you and your student staff writers may think this is “good reporting,” we of Food Services were offended. Your student reporter blatantly disregarded our request not to produce a negative article. We in Food Services, in the future, will be very hesitant to work with your reporters.160
More sensitive issues create other problems. In February 1991 the Arizona Republic broke the story that popular LDS general authority Paul H. Dunn had embellished, if not fabricated, some of his most inspirational stories. This kind of news event always places the Universe in a tight spot: do you run the story and risk the wrath of university officials? Or do you leave it alone and confirm perceptions that you are a “managed” news organization? The outcome is usually dictated by the current campus environment and the creativity of the staff at hand. If there have been a number of high-profile controversies during a given semester, an editor may choose not to pursue a certain story. (Of course, some editors may not touch the story regardless of the climate.) Another approach is to run an article by the Associated Press, without adding anything original to it. But one unique approach is to sit on the story a day or two and then report how others are reporting it. The Universe was fortunate in that the Dunn story broke on a Saturday (Gholdston, faculty advisor since 1987, says the paper has been “extraordinarily fortunate” in this regard over the years). Editors therefore had a few days to get a story ready for Tuesday’s front page. They ran the text of the First Presidency’s response in full,161 along with a look at how the main Utah papers—the Deseret News, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Daily Herald, and Salt Lake Tribune—had covered the story. In telling that story, they were also able to inform readers of key examples of Dunn’s fabrications.162 The same strategy was repeated later that summer when the Arizona Republic ran on a Sunday its first installment of a three-part series on LDS church finances. The Universe published two front page articles on the topic that Tuesday, including a look at how much space the local papers had devoted to the story.163
While the handful of editorial cartoonists have brought acclaim to the Universe, occasionally they draw the ire of campus and community members.164 Six weeks following the Dunn story, a cartoon of Provo-based multilevel marketer Nu Skin International touched off a torrent of angry exchanges. The cartoon, featuring Nu Skin’s logo and name on the side of a pyramid captioned “Brand Nu-Skin, Same 0l’ Scheme,” was a comment on the recent announcement that the Michigan attorney general would be [p.95]investigating the company over possible irregular business practices. Trent Ricks, Universe opinion page editor, ran a perfunctory apology the next day after receiving “bullying” telephone calls from Nu Skin officials, who called the cartoon libelous.165 Ricks also said the newspaper fielded calls from BYU graduates employed by Nu Skin who said they would no longer make financial contributions to the university.166 Rumors circulated that the cartoon jeopardized BYU’s chances at a large Nu Skin donation. “[T]hose consequences have not reached the development office,” said one Nu Skin official.167 Situations such as these are what BYU administrators point to when explaining that the Universe is a high-profile mouthpiece to the community and can significantly impact important relationships. That summer—1991—the church issued a statement on independent Mormon symposia, cautioning members against participating in forums that are not officially sanctioned by the LDS church. The Daily Universe thrust itself into the ideological battle with a series of articles on academic freedom and an opinion piece declaring the annual Sunstone Symposium “academic.” Professors and students responded in a volley of letters and editorials (see chap. 5). Then, toward the end of the year, the Universe took a beating over coverage of an attempted rape. A woman was attacked on campus but managed to escape. A front-page Universe headline, “Women, Don’t Ever Walk Alone,” as well as subsequent articles and letters to the editor focusing on how women should change their behavior to protect themselves against rape, infuriated VOICE, a campus feminist group.
VOICE members prepared a mock proposal suggesting that all men stay indoors after dark one night a week (see chap. 6). As a courtesy, they delivered an explanatory editorial and copies of the flyer to the Universe the night before the proposal was to be posted. According to VOICE, a “moral vigilante” at the Universe told BYUSA of the plan in an attempt to thwart the group’s efforts. VOICE members stuck to the plan and papered the campus with the proposal.168 One of the school’s largest student demonstrations followed. Utah and national newspapers as well as television talk shows and news programs covered the story.169 The glaring spotlight prompted Universe editors to acknowledge that perhaps there were some problems with the newspaper’s coverage. “Although the [Universe] has made the campus and the community aware of a very real threat,” they admitted in an unsigned editorial, “it has also overlooked some important issues.” Articles, columns, and many letters discussed the assault in a way that unfairly placed some of the blame on women, editors explained.170
DeAnn Evans, a communications instructor at the University of Utah, said she was not surprised by the fact that VOICE had been shut out of the Universe’s opinion pages. “The university’s administration often has taken a heavy-handed approach in controlling the newspaper’s content,” she wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune. “This control is shown by the fact that the chief editors are not students; they are hired professionals with faculty affili-[p.96]ations, accountable to the administrative structure.” Nonetheless, Evans found it “a shame that BYU students learned a negative lesson from those who think they can control freedom of the press just because they own the press.”171 Allison Hawes, Universe opinion page editor, responded that she had rejected VOICE’s editorial because it simply reprinted information the group had distributed elsewhere and because the editorial page was already set. Hawes wanted to make it clear that there was no pressure from advisors or administrators to deny VOICE space, insisting that “the newspaper staff makes independent editorial decisions and is far from being under the administration’s thumb. In fact,” she continued, “BYU President Rex Lee recently lambasted the Daily Universe during a public forum.”172
Evolution and the Universe
As school began in the fall of 1992, Brian Kagel, a recently hired senior reporter for the Universe, learned that administrators had pulled from the Harold B. Lee Library a thick reference file on organic evolution containing a wide range of Mormon views,173 replacing it with a thin one that only contained official church statements.174 The original packet was assembled in response to various pamphlets and handouts religion and science professors were distributing to support sometimes contradictory positions.175 Some students were confused by the cross-departmental messages, prompting one to ask President Lee during a public question-and-answer session why religion professors could teach evolution as a “doctrine of the devil” when evolution is taught as a scientific theory in biology and other classes. Lee responded that students should expect to find varying opinions at a university and that they should evaluate the theory themselves.176
Word at the Universe was that a number of religious education professors were upset by the broad range of materials offered in the packet. The dean himself, Robert L. Millet, felt it lacked balance and contained “more statements that gave credibility to organic evolution” than to conservative religious viewpoints.177 Kagel interviewed key creationists and evolutionists on campus and put together an article. As with all sensitive subjects, he ran it by faculty advisors John Gholdston and Jolynne VanValkenberg. In turn, Gholdston, who had previously worked as a religion editor at the Orlando Sentinel, did something he had rarely done before: he sent BYU provost Bruce C. Hafen the article along with a memo:
We, who are about to die, salute you.
Here is the story Brian has put together. He has checked quotes back with his sources and the story appears to have a sense of balance and fairness but is clearly one of those areas where even angels fear to tread. (Perhaps that should read “where only intelligent angels fear to tread.”)
It occurs to us that the story might well be lose-lose for us. The danger [p.97]that Salt Lake [i.e., church leaders] might see the University as clarifying doctrine is high, I suspect.
We are suddenly in no rush with this. If you feel, as we lean, that there is still a possible article here, we are anxious for guidance around the thin ice. If you feel this is best left undone, I believe Brian and I both will be perfectly comfortable with that.178
Shortly afterward Hafen’s office called Kagel to ask him to hold the story until it could be better received on campus
In fact, Kagel did not have a problem with temporarily sitting on the story. Several weeks later, however, when Geoff Thatcher—a friend—a former Universe editor, and currently an Associated Press stringer—told Kagel that he was working on a story on the revised evolution packet,179 Kagel wanted to get his own article out. He told Gholdston that he could not see any reason to wait longer, since the AP was checking into it. Gholdston agreed, and had Kagel telephone Hafen. The provost asked if Kagel would visit him in his office, with a copy of the article, that evening.
When they met, Hafen was congenial, introducing himself and asking Kagel about his studies and family. They both sat down, Hafen at his desk. He asked Kagel for the article and began skimming it. He shook his head a couple of times, then fished a pen from his desk drawer. Starting at the top, he began making marks and notations. By the time he finished, many of the article’s pro-evolution sources and statements had been removed or rendered virtually useless. Then Hafen handed the article back and said he would appreciate it if Kagel would include those edits on the final copy. He thanked Kagel for coming over at such a late hour, and sent him on his way. Back at the Universe, Kagel called Gholdston and told him what had happened. Gholdston said he was sorry, then asked Kagel to make the changes and route the article to the copy editors so they all could finally put the issue to bed.
The article appeared the next day and generated little public conversation, although William Evenson, dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and one of the new packet’s compilers, did take issue with a statement made by Millet, another new packet compiler. “It is not unknown that there have been many debates and disputes on organic evolution and the origins of man,” Millet had said. “Unfortunately, students lose when there is bickering between the colleges. The packet is sort of a truce.”180 Evenson responded: “While there have been disagreements on the correct view of organic evolution and the origin of man, I do not think it is fair to say that … there has been bickering between colleges. Rather, there has been remarkable good will on all sides among faculty and administrators.” Evenson added that one of the purposes of directing students to the new packet, as a supplement to whatever course materials professors routinely used, was to “avoid the implication that a greater sense of unanimity or resolution of this topic exists than is actually the case [even as] we are eager to avoid contention.”181
[p.98]Two years later the matter would be revisited by a Rutgers University journalism professor covering university issues for Editor & Publisher magazine. In an article on censorship at the Daily Universe, Allan Wolper talked to a number of current and former Universe employees including deRosier, Gholdston, Van Atta, and Kagel.182 He led the article with Kagel’s description of Hafen editing the evolution article. Wolper called Hafen to get his side of the story. Through BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot, Hafen said he did not remember talking to Kagel about the evolution story in his office. “Provost Hafen said he definitely recalled having a number of telephone conversations with Brian, because we believed that the thrust of the story might be inaccurate,” Smoot said.183 Wolper checked with other sources to see if they knew anything of the editing session. Gholdston and another journalism professor both remembered consulting with Kagel on the experience.184
In the summer of 1992 the university was busy putting together its first official academic freedom statement—an attempt to codify for the first time exactly on what topics professors could and could not write and speak (see chap. 5). Gholdston told one reporter that the faculty statement would not affect the paper. Areas to avoid—contradicting fundamental LDS church doctrines; attacking or deriding the church or its leaders; violating the honor code through behavior that is “dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane or unduly disrespectful of others”—Gholdston noted, were already areas the newspaper was cautious about.185
As on- and off-campus discussions about academic freedom heated up in 1992, Gholdston told Universe editors to be cautious in their coverage. A few articles had contributed mildly to the existing tensions between the Universe and school administrators, including one report that while university forums featuring women speakers were generally the best attended, male speakers outnumbered female speakers seven to one and men spoke more often on academic topics. Another article, based on an internal church study, traced the decline of church attendance among LDS youth following baptism.186 One event during the controversial fall 1993 semester that went uncovered was a Salt Lake City forum on academic freedom that featured BYU anthropologist David Knowlton, former BYU spokesperson Paul Richards, and others. Although a Universe reporter had been sent to the meeting, Gholdston and student editors decided that no story would run.187 Universe Editor Tad R. Walch later told the New York Times that faculty advisors had made it clear as well that the 1992 Sunstone Symposium, which featured a number of sessions on BYU, was not to be covered.188
Still, the Universe has been able to provide its staff with competent reporting experience. For example, on the evening of 7 February 1993, when a man wearing a white suit and a ponytail jumped restraining ropes and rushed the Marriott Center podium where LDS apostle Howard W. Hunter was speaking, Universe reporters were at the right place at the right time. Holding a [p99]detonator in one hand and a briefcase in the other, Cody Judy warned Hunter he would blow up the center if Hunter refused to read a religious treatise he had written. Hunter refused. Ten minutes into the standoff, many of the 17,000 students in attendance spontaneously stood up and began to sing the popular Mormon hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” The distraction was enough to allow a number of students and plain-clothes security officers to approach the stage and soon subdue Judy. As it turned out, Judy did not have a bomb—only a briefcase full of books and a detonator that was actually a phone receiver wrapped in black tape. Mentally unstable, Judy believed he was called of God to be a new Mormon leader: in fact, he thought the crowd’s spontaneous hymn was meant for him.
The Universe was able to interview security officers, BYU officials, students, and others. Editors organized reporters into groups and had them write articles ranging from the experiences of those viewing the fireside via satellite to what was going through the hymn-singing students’ minds. A staff of over twenty loaded the next day’s paper with photos, diagrams, and coverage of what the Universe dubbed “The Marriott Center Ordeal.” The following morning—and throughout the life of the story—the Universe could boast the best and earliest coverage among local papers.189 Students and faculty snatched up the entire 20,000 print run, prompting the Universe to sell 2,000 photocopies of the issue.190 Photographer Nathan Seiter would later win an award for his nationally distributed photo of Judy holding the “detonator” to Hunter’s head.191 Senior reporter Ken Meyers also won an award for his “spot news” coverage of the event.192
Rex E. Lee: A Healthy Distrust of the Media
The year 1993 was a challenging one in terms of the paper’s relationship with administrators—President Rex E. Lee in particular.193 “[Lee] sees himself as the publisher,” explained BYU spokesperson Harker to one reporter.194 For example, in May an LDS church member from Orem, Utah, wrote a two-page letter in tat-tipped black magic marker condemning one of John deRosier’s editorial cartoons. The cartoon under fire featured the statue of BYU founder Karl G. Maeser (which stands outside the Maeser building on campus) bent over with his head in a pile of sand. The caption read: “An upstanding, longtime resident of BYU will now demonstrate campus attitudes about rape.” The disgruntled Orem resident wrote:
To the General Authorities of the Church.
We feel so concerned how liberal it is. Why does Byu [sic] Pres. allow this? Especially the cartoon. How debasing to our wonderful founder! The womens [sic] articles have been more and more liberal. It is frightening.
We are happy about the [church-owned] Hotel [Utah, renamed the Joseph Smith Memorial Building]—so happy it will honor the prophet.
A sincere member family …195
[p.100]The letter was passed from church leaders to Lee, who sent a copy to Gholdston along with his reply. Lee wrote to the Orem resident that the First Presidency had asked him to respond and that he, too, was “dismayed” when he saw the cartoon. Lee assured him that he would talk to “the people who have direct responsibility of our student newspaper,” and that “[w]e will continue in our efforts to make BYU a university you and all of the members of the Church can be proud of.”196
In June VOICE hosted controversial Mormon feminist Margaret Toscano, who presented a slide lecture”on images of the human and divine female body in ancient and contemporary art. While her presentation had little Marmon content, in the question-and-answer period someone asked for her response to controversies in the church over female deity. Toscano’s comment made Universe headlines the next day: “Mother God Repressed, VOICE Told.” The article, in which Toscano’s comments on Mormon doctrine seem central to her presentation, contained a number of statements that riled the conservative campus.197
Student editors were not especially politic in putting together the front page the day the “Mother God” story ran. In addition, editors ran an article on an off-campus academic freedom rally, the Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton appeals (plus two charts), and student protests (with a large photo). Lee called Gholdston to tell him that he had fielded several calls from general authorities who were having difficulty understanding how Lee could allow all that to go on during his watch. Lee said it was challenging enough to deal with these flair-ups without also having to explain the coverage in the official school newspaper. While much of that front page frustrated Lee, he commented specifically that the “Mother God” article was inappropriate because it did not represent orthodox LDS doctrine. In the “next paper a front-page mea culpa ran:
The Universe apologizes to its readers who were discomforted or confused by an article in Thursday’s newspaper concerning Heavenly Mother. The front-page story covered an address delivered in the Kennedy Center to members of VOICE, a campus club involved in women’s issues. The speaker, who had not been approved through official channels, espoused some personal beliefs and feelings which are not in harmony with the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“A serious lapse in judgment allowed the one-sided article to run in the Universe,” said John Gholdston, managing director of the paper. “We deeply regret and apologize for the implication that this newspaper, this university or the Church and its leadership in any way concur with the perspective of our Mother in Heaven as presented in the article.”198
The experience turned out to be important in shaping future Universe policies. From that point on, Gholdston informed student editors, whenever a source in an article contradicted “fundamental LDS church doctrine” [p.101]the Universe needed to include an explanation of the faith’s orthodox views.199 (For more on the Toscano affair, see chaps. 7 and 8.)
Also that summer Kagel wrote an article comparing Cecilia Konchar Farr’s and David Knowlton’s publishing records with those of colleagues who had passed their third-year reviews (administrators had said the two were being fired over poor scholarship; see chap. 6). When Kagel contacted BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot for comment, she said she would call him back. Later that afternoon she asked Kagel not to run the article because, as an official school organ, a Universe article could have legal implications for BYU during the upcoming appeals and possible lawsuits. Kagel agreed to kill the story.200
Lee, like Holland and other BYU presidents, was well aware of the potential value of a friendly phone call or letter to a student journalist. For example, in December 1989 Lee had written to communications department chair Dallas Burnett, ‘Janet Raab’s piece … is a textbook example of not only good journalism, but also good writing in general.” Lee said he was “not sure whether this is due to natural ability on her part or superior training on yours. Perhaps you can advise me, and then I can give appropriate credit.”201 In September 1993, following a Universe editorial commenting on Lee’s efforts to identify and ameliorate racial and gender discrimination on campus,202 Lee wrote to editors that he had read “today’s issue of my favorite newspaper” and had “thought that the editorial was one of the most appropriate and valuable to the University that have appeared during my term as president.”203 The following day Lee called the editor to congratulate him on the Universe’s fine work on another article: a front-page story on Lee’s son, who had recently earned a clerkship with Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court.204
At the beginning of the 1994 school year, the paper faced an embarrassing and unusual situation. The Universe has stringent guidelines regarding the advertisements it will and will not accept. Usually anything that can possibly be construed as offensive to the university’s honor code or the LDS church is quickly screened out. This did not happen that September. The Universe, like campus papers at hundreds of other schools across the country, inserted a glossy catalog for a poster company into each of the 16,000 issues printed that day. Apparently no Universe representative had previewed the catalog. Not long after the papers had been deposited at various sites across campus, the telephone calls started streaming in. Some readers were shocked that the Universe would accept anything that promoted sexual activity (one poster encouraged students to spend their loans on pizza, cars, and condoms), revealing lingerie (another poster featured a woman in a black Wonderbra), or nudity (a third showed a provocatively posed woman wearing little but an unbuttoned white dress shirt). University spokesperson Brent Harker said he found the poster featuring the condom the most offensive.
The Universe sprang into action, marshaling vehicles, editors, and re-[p.102]porters across campus to collect the offensive inserts. Only about 4,000 catalogs were eventually retrieved. The Universe apologized in the next day’s paper: “An advertising insert in Thursday’s Daily Universe contained offensive material which did not meet Daily Universe standards and should not have been in the paper. We deeply regret being the inadvertent conduit for the distress caused by the advertisement.”205 Harker said the president’s office had also fielded complaints about the catalog and that “[t]he President’s Council was upset with it. They asked that it be taken out.” Editor-in-chief Matt Franck said he did not think the correction was necessary and that he was disturbed by the way it was written. “The Correction said the Daily Universe regrets the oversight,” said Franck. “But the Correction was written by the administration. The readers don’t know that. It was an embarrassment to me.”206 Brian Gordon, co-owner of the company that had produced the catalog, was philosophical: “We go to 600 schools. It’s going to happen somewhere.” He asked that the Universe return the catalogs and strike a fair reimbursement deal with him. University officials said they would treat Gordon fairly.207
Merrill Bateman and the 1996 Self-Study: Give BYU President Control of the Universe
Two years later Merrill J. Bateman, Lee’s successor, released the “self study” that had been prepared as part of the university’s once-a-decade accreditation review. Combing through the thick report, some departments were pleased to learn that evaluators considered them understaffed and due for help. Other departments—such as communications—were surprised to read that massive changes were recommended. One suggestion was that BYU alter the way the Daily Universe operated. While the Universe had long been considered a valuable tool for journalism majors, reviewers pointed out that it was also an important communication vehicle within the campus community. “In addition, senior administrative officers are held responsible for its editorial content and policies,” they wrote. For those reasons, the nineteen-member self-study committee recommended that the Universe be removed from the communications department and be “published as an independent entity with a budget set by the president’s office.”208
Gholdston said he was “stunned” by the recommendation, especially in light of the fact that only a few years earlier an independent committee had studied the paper, finding it to have “proper goals” and to be “headed in the right direction.” “People had voiced that opinion,” he told one reporter, “but never the top administration.”209 Stephen J. Parker, a recent BYU graduate and former Universe editor, voiced his “anger” over the proposal in a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune:
Taking editorial control of the student newspaper away from students and faculty is contrary to the purpose of a university. This will be detrimental to BYU’s reputation when the Northwest Association accreditation team  visits the campus in March …. [When I was editor] my staff was under constant pressure to withhold information or prejudice the truth in favor of university administrators. Yet we were tenacious enough to raise issues that the administration would rather bury, and do so fairly and accurately. In the process, we learned more than we ever could in a classroom about the importance of speech and press freedoms.
I hope Merrill Bateman … will understand the harm that would come from implementing the study’s recommendations for the newspaper.210
As it turned out, Bateman had told a reporter a few days earlier that he was not inclined to take control of the newspaper. He did say, however, that he could change the way it operates—perhaps through the creation of a supervisory editorial board that included a seat for a university administration representative. (Such an editorial board was, in fact, implemented the next year.211) Nonetheless, Universe student editors probably breathed a sigh of relief that September when the first set of board-approved self-study changes was released and the Universe was not among them.212
Bateman has refrained in some instances from pressuring the Universe into submission. In the fall of 1997, for instance, the Universe wrote an article based on information released by the National Home Education Research Institute that indicated home-schoolers outscore public school students on national tests. Scott Bean, Utah superintendent for public instruction, thought the study was biased and based on a small, undocumented sample. He was so upset that the Universe had publicized the study—thereby implying BYU endorsement, he said—that he wrote Bateman. Bateman assured him that the university had no position on home education, adding that the Universe, a student laboratory, covers issues “not chosen or selected by the administration, nor do they necessarily reflect the thinking of Brigham Young University’s faculty or staff.”213
Teaching an Old Dinosaur New Tricks: The Universe Today
With increasing reports in the national media that journalism programs are failing to prepare students for careers in the industry and with flagging enrollment in some journalism departments across the nation,214 BYU has taken steps in the 1990s to reverse the trend. In 1997 the communications department began merging its print, television, and radio operations. KBYU and the Daily Universe now share space in the Wilkinson Center under the name NewsNet (originally called NewsCentral).215 The online edition of the paper, http://newsnet.byu.edu, and an annual CD-ROM Virtual
Beginning journalism students are now lumped together for a semester in Communications 313, where they declare themselves “Print Learners” or [p.104]“Broadcast Learners” but are graded on both the newspaper articles and television news packages they produce. As one reporter put it, “Print reporting students dispatched to a car crash … better stick a comb in their pocket as well because they might wind up on the 4:30 p.m. KBYU broadcast.”216
A Salt Lake City newspaper has called the enterprise “radical.” “This is like bumping down a Kentucky country road and passing a billboard for the new Hatfield-McCoy Ammo Shop,” he wrote, referring to the challenge of blending the different media cultures.217 “I don’t know of another school that is doing it,” said William Porter, BYU director of journalism.218 Many industry watchers expect that one day the product the media delivers to the public will come via the Internet in news “modules” that include photographs, text, hyperlinks to related information, and audio or video clips. NewsNet was created in anticipation of those jobs, Porter said.219 “People call newspapers a dinosaur of an institution,” adds Gholdston. “But dinosaurs died out because they didn’t change.”220
The changes have not come without costs. Students in the fall 1997 class complained that expectations were too high, and that they left without a solid understanding of either print or broadcast journalism. In response, NewsNet scaled back course requirements and weighed one’s chosen emphasis by two-thirds.221 Gholdston, however, acknowledges that a larger problem still exists: with the added technology that all Communications 313 students now must master, sometimes there is not enough time to discuss the important philosophical issues working journalists confront. He says they are hoping to remedy that through a variety of prerequisite classes.222
In the late 1990s all Universe editorial positions are staffed by paid students including editor-in-chief, managing editor, all desk editors, photo editor, even night editor, whose responsibility as final gate-keeper is to edit problem articles.223 Students have no input in the selection of Universe editors-in-chief, who are chosen by the faculty advisors. However, the rest of the staff are hired, with some guidance, by the student editor. Beat reporters are almost exclusively communications students—participation remains a requirement for graduation. A number of those students see the Universe as just another class with assignments to be filled then forgotten.224 According to Gholdston, the main drawback of a lab paper is that from the first day forward a student’s work is on display for the entire campus, and then, as soon as they get good at their jobs, they leave. “We have students reinventing the wheel every semester,” he notes.225
About 92 percent of BYU’s more than 30,000 students read the paper at least once a week—many of them four or five days a week (a figure that has held steady for more than two decades).226 A number of those students about 35 percent—do not turn to other papers to supplement the news they get from the Universe.227 Gholdston says the fact that so few read other [p.105]papers makes him “weep.”228 He also points to examples of the Universe facilitating positive changes on campus. In 1990-91 a letter to the editor by German professor Alan Keele and a subsequent editorial helped to launch a successful food and fund-raising effort for Soviet Union citizens.229 Five years later an editorial calling BYU to “set an example for the community, the state and the nation by offering baby care services to men and women alike,” helped bring baby-changing stations to a number of men’s restrooms on campus.230
The student paper has no true on-campus competition, and Universe officials have an obvious financial interest in keeping it that way. In 1997, as the only widely distributed vehicle to reach students and faculty, the Universe earned $1.3 million in advertising revenue. John Kent, the newspaper’s advertising director, expects those revenues to top $1.5 million in 1998.231 Off-campus competitors include the Provo Daily Herald, Salt Lake Tribune, Student Review, and the LDS church-owned Deseret News. Against them, the Universe can enjoy some subtle advantages. Sometimes sources are more open with reporters, perhaps thinking that since it is ‘Just a student paper,” no one will pay much attention to what it prints.232 Or perhaps some sources know that the average Universe journalist will not be as probing or confrontive as other media might be. In 1981 the Universe reported that former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver planned to be baptized into the Mormon faith once he was released from jail—something he had not told any other media.233 More recently, Bruce A. Van Orden, BYU professor of church history and doctrine, admitted copying portions of his 1992 Building Zion: The Latter•day Saints in Europe. While the Chronicle of Higher Education and other media were unable to reach him for comment, he explained to the Daily Universe that the plagiarism was unintentional. He had been gathering materials and making notes “fast and furiously” for a coursepack in 1989, he said. Later, when he published the materials, “I made my attributions, but apparently along the way I didn’t use enough care.”234
The ever-present issue for the Universe, though, is censorship. Lorin Wheelwright, overseeing the Universe under Dallin Oaks, once commented that “we control so much of the environment [at BYU] … that the temptation to manipulate the news is beyond human capacity to resist.” He added, though, that administrators needed to exercise patience with young journalists, unless the school was openly willing to sponsor “a house-organ polyana [sic] sheet in which sweetness and light will be so glaring that we will die of ennui if not from blind staggers or a sour stomach.”235 But ultimately student editors run the paper. They decide what articles to assign and which will not appear. They decide how much space to devote to a story, whether it will run on the front page or be buried inside, and if any artwork will accompany it. While one of the two faculty advisors attend the daily editorial meeting, his or her comments are usually geared toward helping students not to embarrass themselves by missing a big story or by over emphasizing [p.106]a routine one.236 Articles on “sensitive” topics are reviewed by the advisors, but usually a compromise can be struck. Occasions where an advisor simply imposes his or her will seldom happen.237 Periodically BYU officials apply pressure on editors, but this is rare and depends on the administration (and how much pressure they get from above).238 Lee, for example, leaned on the Universe fairly often. Reportedly, Bateman is much more hands off, although his position as a church general authority complicates the question of publishing opinions or stories critical of his policies.
Gholdston told one interviewer during Lee’s tenure, when asked if the Universe is a tool of the administration: “It’s no secret that we’ve done a number of things … Lee hasn’t agreed with.” He elaborated: “[Lee] has no more daily control over what we do here than does a professor” of biology. “If we are a tool of the administration, then Rex Lee must consider us a rather undependable one.”239 Student editors, nonetheless, are well aware that copies of the Universe are delivered daily to church offices in Salt Lake City where they are regularly scrutinized.240
The bulk of censorship at the Universe (or at many papers, including Student Review) is probably self-imposed-though the boundaries obviously vary from publication to publication. One faculty member has called student editors the paper’s “worst censors.”241 Gholdston explains that the Universe is more often careful about “what we say and how we say it … out of a sense of professional obligation and empathy [rather] than a fear of administrative repercussion.” To the “greatest degree, the control and censorship that we exercise here is internal, exercised in the name of respect for Our readership,” he says.242 (Clearly, however, some of the self-censorship takes place to avoid trouble with school and church leaders.) Some editors fight a few battles, and then retreat. Many realize that this is another part of the lab experience: readers, editors, and newspaper owners, wherever they are, have biases and sensitive areas to mind.243 “Everyone is owned by somebody,” BYU journalism professor John Hughes told one reporter. “[Universe editors] are learning the pitfalls and perils they will confront in professional journalism.”244 Gholdston agrees: “It’s a delicate balance that we have to walk.” He adds that the paper is trying to “make a difference in the community at the same time that we’re creating solid, reputable journalists with a high moral standard.”245 Not an easy task anywhere, especially at “the Lord’s University.”
15. Concerns that might fall into the “petty” category include: in 1961 Wilkinson wrote, “Please note the attached article from the Universe in favor of booing. I hope you can find some ‘way to get a number of students to jump on him vigorously” (Wilkinson to John Bernhard, 23 Feb. 1961, UA 560, University Archives, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah [hereafter BYUA]). In 1965 he wrote, “I notice in the Universe there are several references to the ‘dorms’ on the campus. We made a fixed decision years ago that we have no dorms on the BYU campus because dorms means cemetery. Will you please see that they are referred to as student housing hereafter” (Wilkinson to J. Morris Richards, 4 Nov. 1965, VA 560).
16. For information on problems facing American university student newspapers in the late 1960s, see John Breen, “News Reporting: Is it Fair?” College Management, Dec. 1969, 9-12; Scott Moore, “Student Editors Stir Concern-and Reaction,” Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec. 1969; “Editors Draft Guidelines for Free Press on Campus,” Editor & Publisher, 24 Jan. 1970; David Laurence, “Government Censorship or Freedom of the Press,” U.S. News and World Report, 4 Aug. 1969, 84; and “What’s Become of ‘Voluntary Censorship’?” U.S. News and World Report, 8 Sept. 1969, 92.
17. “Student Publications First Semester Report, 1960~61,” in ASBYU Student Body History, 1960-61, BYUA. Also, Bray, “History,” 140; Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:369. A few months later Lewis was made a university vice president.
19. Also in the memo Butterworth analyzed the coverage other Utah papers had given the event, calling the Provo Daily Herald’s coverage “sensationalistic.” “[The story] could and should have been handled more discreetly by the Herald. Their stories are just one more example of their attitude toward BYU” (Butterworth to Wilkinson, 12 Mar. 1962, UA 586, BYUA).
22. “Text Lists Reasons of Editor,” Daily Universe, 22 Mar. 1962. See also Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 260. Years later, as a BYU spokesperson, Richards freely acknowledged censorship at the Daily Universe. “But it’s not unique to BYU,” he asserted, following the school’s banning of an independent newspaper, the Seventh East Press. “Wherever you go you’re going to find somebody who won’t [p.108]let you write about something.” He added, “One of the things that bothers me is when journalists cry oppression. Hey, that’s life” (Raelene Monson, “Many Levels of Truth Affect Censorship,” Daily Universe, 31 Oct. 1983; see also, Kari Bauer, “Censorship Not Only on Y. Campus,” Daily Universe, 13 Oct. 1983). See below for more on the Seventh East Press.
30. Another example of troubling advertising: in 1970, an ad from Equitable Life Insurance Company featured a photo of Albert Einstein with the caption: “Hair. It’s not the style that counts, it’s what’s under it.” The general manager of student publications wrote Wilkinson: “I have notified our student personnel here that the [ad] will not appear in our student newspaper again.” He was concerned that it gave “argumentative fuel to those who claim that the BYU dress standards are bogus” (Rodger Dean Duncan to Wilkinson, 17 Feb. 1970, UA 567b).
31. Minutes of Student Publication Board Meeting, 2 Dec. 1965, VA 560. Later Wilkinson would become concerned that this type of music and atmosphere was creeping onto campus. Attaching a clipping from the January 1969 Universe, he wrote to one of his vice presidents, Ben E. Lewis, “I think you will agree that this is the kind of dance music we shouldn’t have at the BYU—note the hippy beads, etc. Furthermore, it is the kind of picture we ought not to have in the Universe” (Wilkinson to Lewis, 25 Feb. 1969).
33. Student Publications Board Meeting, minutes, 5 May 1966, UA 560. Some editors openly chafed under such attitudes. For example, in 1967, at the conclusion of a column satirizing statements by BYU officials, the managing editor quipped, “We print anything we please and would immediately resign if anyone ever dared to censor us …. Will you please excuse me for a couple of hours while our advisor proof reads this column prior to its publication?” Jaron Summers, “Would You Say It Again?” Daily Universe, 7 Apr. 1967).
36. Wilkinson to Ed Butterworth, chair; Dean A. Peterson, vice chair;]. Elliot Cameron; Clyde D. Sandgren; B. Keith Duffin; J. Morris Richards; and Heber Wolsey, “Committee On University Policy Respecting Universe,” 17 Feb. 1968.
37. Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 12 July 1968. Another administrative issue they grappled with during this time was whether BYU could pay Universe editors less than minimum wage. At the time Universe editor pay ranged from $5.25 per issue for the editor-in-chief, to $3.10 for the assistant news editor to $.50 for the entertainment columnist. J. Morris Richards, chair of the Student Publications Board, noted that if they paid the staffers $1.30 an hour, “[c]ost would be more than double in all cases” (Richards, “Daily Universe: Some Reactions to ‘A Position Policy Need,” 14 Feb. 1968).
40. As early as October 1963, the Universe listed “Brigham Young University” as its owner and Fairbanks as its publisher (“The Universe is Organized,” Daily Universe, 11 Oct. 1963). But in 1969, perhaps partly motivated by dissatisfaction over the job Fairbanks was doing, administrators decided to start listing fine arts dean Lorin Wheelwright as publisher. Fairbanks protested: “Students will see this as an administration move to control the press and we will have problems on a national scale”(Fairbanks to Wilkinson and Wheelwright, 5 Sept. 1969, UA 567b). They let Fairbanks continue as publisher.
41. Fairbanks reported to Wilkinson that he was already working long days, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wilkinson suggested that he come in later so he could stay longer on campus. See Wilkinson to Fairbanks, 12 Oct. 1968.
43. Wilkinson Diary, 30 Sept. 1968. Eventually Wilkinson determined that Fairbanks was “not functioning as he should” and asked that his contract be held up (see Wilkinson to Ben E. Lewis and Robert K. Thomas, 9 Mar. 1969). Wheelwright agreed, writing about a botched headline in July 1969: “As far as [Fairbanks] the present advisor to the Universe is concerned, I think the publication of the wrong headline … was typical. So are his excuses.” Wheelwright said he “would like to consider seriously a replacement a year from now if we can find the right man” (Wheelwright to Wilkinson, July 1969,UA 567b).
46. Board member to Wilkinson, 16 Mar. 1967, Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:370. Wilkinson responded that because of the First Amendment students could not be told what to print. “[Nonetheless] the Universe ought to be an instrument of good will for the school rather than a carping critic … we ought not to wash our linen in public,” he wrote (Wilkinson to Merwin G. Fairbanks, 18 Mar. 1967; Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:371).
47. In the same letter he wrote that he was also “disturbed” that the paper had run a picture of a girl in a “prominently displayed mini skirt. Such a picture doesn’t help to maintain the standards found in the booklet, “For the Strength of Youth.” Stapley opened with the salutation: “These are a couple of reflections for the Christmas season” (Stapley to Wilkinson, 23 Dec. 1968).
49. A year later, it was put in writing that all future Universe articles dealing with racial topics would have to be “cleared by the Student Publications Board or the Dean of Students” (Student Publications Board Meeting, minutes, 16 Jan. 1969, VA 560).
52. Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 17 Oct. 1969; see also Wheelwright to Oaks, Lewis, and Thomas, 17 Feb. 1973, a memo titled, “Daily Universe History Since 1969: A Summary of Problems and Policy Decisions Extracted from Memoranda and Other Documents.” Wilkinson also disliked student editors “indulging themselves in exasperating alliterative headlines” such as “Bunder’s Babes Battle Big, Bad Basketballers” and “Rejoicing Rams Ready Rampage Rendezvous” (Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:367).
58. Geisler to Wilkinson, 3 Sept. 1969. See also Geisler to Merwin Fairbanks, 1 Sept. 1969; Fairbanks to Wilkinson, 5 Sept. 1969; Wilkinson to Fairbanks, 8 Sept. 1969; and Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 11 Sept. 1969, all in UA 567b.
63. “Regarding: Recommended Policies and Organization for Publishing the Daily Universe,” Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 27 June 1969, In this same memo Wheelwright was clear on how the Universe would be organized: (1) “The publisher of the Daily Universe shall be the Brigham Young University.” (2) “The Board of Student Publication shall consist of nine members: three from the student body, six from the faculty and/or staff, all to be appointed by the president of the university with the chairman and vice chairman designated by him.” (3) “The faculty advisor shall serve as the administrative officer of the Board of Student Publications.” His duties include, “Serve as professional consultant to the board,” “Be responsible for the form and content of news, editorial, and advertising copy published in the newspaper following the policies of the board,” and “Review each issue prior to publication to assure adherence to board policies.”
67. Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 26 Sept. 1969. Wheelwright replied: “[I]f you want to stop pictures of bearded entertainers, stop bringing them onto the campus” (Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 30 Sept. 1969). A year later another rock group in the Universe would upset another administrator. Elliot Cameron, dean of students, complained to Roger Dean Duncan, general manager of student publications, that the 2 October 1970 Universe contained a review of an album by “The Door[s],” who, Cameron explained, “have been involved in gyrations and nudities in their performances and had a contract canceled at The Salt Palace because of their obscenities.” Cameron wanted to know why “this writer would select these particular records when there are so many good cultural refined programs to talk about” (Cameron to Duncan, 14 Oct. 1970). Duncan replied that the records in question “have been featured in the big record sales at the BYU Bookstore, and we have an informal agreement with them to help promote some of their sales.” “I have trouble in seeing,” Duncan admitted, “how listening to a record album could bring to mind ‘gyrations and nudities.’” He added, “you might be interested to note that records by ‘The Doors’ have been played by KSL radio over the Wilkinson Center intercom” (Duncan to Cameron, 16 Oct. 1970, UA 567b).
68. For example, in 1971 one religious education faculty member noticed an ad with a young man and a young woman—apparently naked—in a swimming pool. “Who is responsible for permitting this?” he demanded. Wheelwright, in a memo to Wilkinson, explained that the Universe had tried to modify the artwork by adding a swimsuit to the young woman, but it did not show up clearly in the final reproduction (Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 2 Mar. 1971; Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 11 Mar. [p.111]1971; see also Wheelwright to Oaks, Lewis, and Thomas, 17 Feb. 1973). During 1973 the Universe also received “many complaints” over publishing ads featuring male models with hair that did not fit BYU standards. President’s Weekly Meeting, minutes, 17 Jan. 1973.
70. Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 1 Oct. 1969. Wheelwright explained in a subsequent memo that Fairbanks was “trying to make the students responsible and avoid offending them by insisting on reading every work they write.” Nonetheless, Fairbanks had “assured me he will try to accomplish what we want done without making it an edict from the President,” Wheelwright said (Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 9 Oct. 1969).
72. Tanner to Wilkinson, 16 Jan. 1970; Wilkinson to Tanner, 17 Jan. 1970. The Universe responded, “For us to bury the story or to play it down would simply lend credence to the charge hurled at us too often of being the mouthpiece of the administration and subject to ‘managed news’“ (Roger Gillespie to Wilkinson, 10 Mar. 1970; see also Wilkinson to Oaks, Lewis, Thomas, 17 Feb. 1973).
74. Wilkinson’to Wheelwright, 12 Jan. 1970. Fed up, that spring Wilkinson wrote Universe editors to discontinue immediately the paper’s subtitle, “The Voice of Brigham Young University.” If it were the university’s voice, some of its articles would never have been printed, he told them (Wilkinson to Lorin F. Wheelwright, Rodger Duncan, and Rodger Gillespie, 9 Apr. 1970; see also Wilkinson to Oaks, Lewis, and Thomas, 17 Feb. 1973).
77. Andrus to Wilkinson, 23 Mar. 1970; see also Wilkinson to Lorin F. Wheelwright, 25 Mar. 1970. On this topic, a year later Wilkinson would write that he had been disturbed that the Universe “has been giving so much publicity to the leftist speakers and leftist groups and the niggardly way in which they have been treating such associations as The Young Americans for Freedom” (Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 14 Apr. 1971, UA 567b).
79. The Monday Magazine, which still runs today, features only a few pages of news stories—the rest is devoted to a certain issue or idea. One reason the Magazine was put in place was so that only a handful of students would have to work on Sunday.
82. Wilkinson to Wheelwright, 18 May 1970, UA 567b. Several days later Wheelwright came to the students’ defense. “Regarding the Universe articles … I do think the main point is pertinent, namely: even if there is only one in ninety-nine non-Mormons who is made to feel unwelcome among us, our conscience should hurt.” In the same memo Wheelwright issued a strong statement in support of publishing uncensored student views. “If we muzzle every cry of student anguish and never give it a chance to be heard in the Universe, we can expect it to be expressed in some other way—in an underground paper, or, heaven forbid, in more violent form” (Wheelwright to Wilkinson, 22 May 1970).
[p.112]86. In September 1972 J. Morris Richards was executive editor, William C. Porter was assistant executive editor, and Dallas Burnett succeeded Haroldsen as communications department chair. Burnett was also Universe publisher. In addition, that same year business manager Emerald A. “Jerry” Jerome encouraged the shift from a tabloid-sized paper to a broadsheet. Advertisers responded favorably to the change, as well as to other technical improvements. It did not take long for an average issue of the Universe to quadruple in number of copies printed and become increasingly financially secure.
87. “Faculty Member to Serve as Editor of BYU Paper,” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 May 1972. Former Universe advisors included J. Reuben Clark III, Ray Wight, Oliver R. Smith, Glen C. Davis, Noel Duerden, J. Morris Richards, Merwin G. Fairbanks, Rodger Dean Duncan, and Emerald A. ‘Jerry” Jerome. See Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 3:368.
96. Lael Woodbury to Dallin H. Oaks, 22 Mar. 1977. Earlier that month a student editor sent a letter to Oaks asking for access to the board of trustees for an article on how they operate and make decisions. It was decided during Oaks’s weekly meeting with the school’s vice presidents that “Bob Driggs is to contact Elder Boyd K. Packer to clarify his feelings on the matter and then have Dean Woodbury notify the editors that we are not interested in this type of article.” It was a foregone conclusion that the journalist would not gain an audience with the board. (See “Minutes of the President’s Weekly Meeting,” 9 Mar. 1977.)
98. Oaks to American Home Economics Association, 27 Apr. 1978, sample letter attached to Oaks’s memo to BYU faculty members advising them of his action. Oaks to All Faculty and Administrative Staff, 27 Apr. 1978. See also Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 38-39.
102. Packer to Oaks, 14 Nov. 1979. One article Packer took issue with was on the “ousting of the librarian in Davis County. If all the facts were known,” Packer wrote cryptically, “we would be very hesitant to take the position taken by The Universe.”
103. Larry Werner, Deana Doyd, Jerry Painter, Ken Bush, Ginnie Oveson, Joy Ross, Kim Kaatman, John Jackson, Frank Rigby, Floyd Rose, Michael Morris, Anne Thornton, and John Taylor to Dallin H. Oaks and Robert K. Thomas, 28 May 1980.
104. Oaks to Werner et al., 6 June 1980; “Staff Members Claim Faculty Advisers [p.113]Exert Too Much Control,” Collegiate Headlines, July 1980; Holly Mullen-Green, “Staff Decries Censorship of Student Newspaper,” Summer Chronicle, 31 July 1980.
106. Sorenson to Brent Peterson, 26 Mar. 1981. Lee Davidson, a Universe editor in 1981, did not feel that the paper was overly controlled by the faculty. “A lot of people think The Daily Universe is a public-relations arm of BYU and that it will not publish material that could be degrading to the university,” he told one reporter. “This is not true.” As evidence, he pointed to articles published in past years including a series on homosexuality, a series on the academic problems of some BYU athletes, and review of Ku Klux Klan activities in Utah Valley. See Julie Taylor, “Rules, Not Censorship, Guide Y Publications,” Daily Universe, 14 Oct. 1981. Several years later William Porter, Daily Universe executive editor, identified two subjects that the paper could not handle “without getting burned”: homosexuality and evolution. He said Oaks “took a lot of heat” from some general authorities over the newspaper’s earlier series on gays. See Laura Childers, “Censorship of The Daily Universe Examined,” Daily Universe, 1 Nov. 1983.
108. Van Atta, Universe editor in 1973, said one of his more memorable experiences as a BYU journalist was when he learned that campus police had towed away J. Willard Marriott’s car for being in a spot reserved for the disabled. The catch was that Marriott was parked there because he was attending a ceremony honoring him for a recent, sizeable donation. “I called [ the administration] for an official reaction, and they told me I couldn’t run the story,” Van Atta said. “So I called UPI and gave it to them. I already had my lead— You pay $1 million dollars and you can’t get a parking spot’“ (Allan Wolper, “Censorship at BYU is Kept in the Closet,” Editor & Publisher, 22 Oct. 1994, 18).
109. Some say the cartooning tradition actually started in the late 1960s, with Kurt Hanks and others. One cartoon from that era portrayed a BYU security officer taking notes from a ragged student, partially buried by rocks, who was explaining, “And then I said those without sin [should] cast the first stone.”
115. Benson has said that one colleague at the Arizona Republic describes him as the kind of individual who “marches down the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded” (Scott Taylor, “Arizona Cartoonist Says His Work Rankles Politicians, Others—Just as It Should,” Deseret News, 5 Apr. 1988).
121. A student letter was a catalyst in taking action on the August decision [p.114]Gholdston acknowledged. “One of the questions asked in a temple recommend interview asks if we are sympathetic to apostate groups or persons,” Joseph Dallin wrote. “If we are, we are unworthy of a recommend. Putting Steve Benson’s name ‘in lights’ by way of printing his cartoons, is in my opinion showing sympathy” (Hillary Groutage, “BYU Paper Won’t Run Benson Cartoons,” Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Nov. 1996; A.P., “BYU Student Newspaper Drops Benson Cartoons,” Deseret News, 1 Dec. 1996; Stacy Jones. “Too Harsh for Comfort.”‘ Editor & Publisher, 25 Jan. 1997).
123. Elaine Brown, “DeRosier Takes Top Honors in National Student Contest,” Daily Universe, 10 Aug. 1993; John deRosier, “Editorial Cartoons No Laughing Matter,” Daily Universe, 21 Sept. 1993; Lana Knight, “Y Cartoonist Wins Schultz Award, Named Nation’s Best,” Daily Universe, 15 Mar. 1994. DeRosier, who was key to the Universe’s Farr-Knowlton firing coverage, had his name removed from church records in 1994 over theological issues.
124. Edward L. Carter, “BYU Cartoonist Draws Rave Reviews,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 May 1997; A.P., “Cartoonist at BYU Best in U.S.,” Daily Herald, 18 May 1997; David Astor, “Utah Artist Wins Locher Contest,” Editor & Publisher, 21 June 1997.
126. Peck says one of the most challenging experiences of his editorship occurred when the newspaper discovered that a professor had plagiarized a significant portion of his course packet. The paper wrote the story and, the night before taking it to press, Peck contacted the professor for comment. He denied the plagiarism initially, but called early the next morning to invite Peck to his office. During their conversation, the professor broke down in tears and begged Peck not to publish the article. He only did it to save the students money in book fees, he said. He asked Peck for mercy and forgiveness. Peck says it then struck him how the press becomes a judge: “I didn’t bargain with that when I became editor.” Peck says that although he is committed to open discussion and understands the role of the press in society, he “didn’t want to destroy this man’s career.” Peck offered a silent prayer, then told the professor that if he would correct the citation problems with the packet, the Press would not run the story. Today Peck says he still feels he made the correct decision. Authors’ interview with Peck, Feb. 1994.
133. U.P.I., no headline, U.P.I archives, 28 Feb. 1983. Some of Kelly’s remarks were made in a speech at the University of Utah. The article reported that some audience members were “hostile”; they disagreed with his position on the ban and criticized a recent series his paper had done on the church. Some called the series, written by Post staff reporter John Farrell, “biased” and overly dependent on the voices of “closet doubters and skeptics.” Kelly also added, “I recently read a Daily Universe editorial (about the Seventh East Press). It said some topics were off limits to Universe coverage. I find that very interesting and very sad.”
[p.115]134. Green, “BYU Policy May Jeopardize Accreditation.” The year 1983 also saw controversial BYU Today editor Ken Shelton resign from the alumni magazine over repeated conflicts with the administration. University spokesperson Paul Richards said Shelton had turned the magazine into an “ego trip” and published many deep, philosophical articles that alumni could not relate to. Under the new editor, James P. Bell, Richards said the award-wining magazine would become more oriented to alumni by being “more newsy” “With more photos, authors, and sports coverage. Shelton said he was asked to resign because he was “too journalistic.” “I don’t think they felt I was oriented enough to public relations,” he said. “My worst sin was asking good questions in my interviews with administrators and then quoting what they said.” Shelton added that he was “close to being ashamed at the job Utah journalists” do covering BYU. “Far too many are bought off with free tickets, free lunches and free access to sporting and cultural events,” he said. “In part, they sell their souls for press releases instead of giving good coverage to the campus” (“BYU Today Editor Resigns in Tiff with Administration,” Utah Journalism Review, 10 June 1983; Eric Zebley, “Editor of BYU Today Resigns Due to Conflict,” Daily Universe, 17 May 1983).
140. Jennifer McGill, “Apologetic ‘Cockroach Custodians’ Will Not Receive Termination Orders,” Daily Universe, 21 Nov. 1985; Carma Hoynacki, “Cockroach Controversy Completed,” Daily Universe, 22 Nov. 1985.
142. The student service association is often frustrated that the Universe does not do a better job covering their events and other campus news. The ever-changing relationship between the two organizations’ student leaders—every semester there is considerable turnover—generally depends on the interests of the reporter assigned to that beat. Predictably, if there is plenty of favorable coverage, the organization is pleased. If there is little coverage or critical coverage, the organization gets frustrated, occasionally prompting an investigation, such as this one, into whether the Universe should be moved from the communications department to their jurisdiction.
One humorous example of the tension: reporters wrote an innocuous article on the impending marriage of BYUSA president Jason Hall and former BYUSA associate vice president of leadership Kolette Coleman. Copy editors seized on one line, buried in the middle of the story (“‘[Hall] kissed like a fish’ when we first started seeing each other”), to headline the story: “Hall to Marry Despite His ‘Fish Kisses’” (24 June 1992). Hall was able to get some measure of revenge when, a year later, he helped write “We’re the Zoobies,” a musical “farce” about the Daily Universe that was performed as part of a campus forum (Karen Wilkinson, “‘Unforum’ Spoofs Y Life, Dating, Daily Universe,” 5 Apr. 1993). For other examples, see Brian Kagel, “BYUSA and SAC Struggling with Role Definitions,” Daily Universe, 26 May 1992; Marci Beeke, “Conflict Emerges Between Officers of SAC, BYUSA,” Daily Universe, 2 Oct. 1992; Alisha Hamilton, “Controversy Surrounds Selections,” Daily Universe, 9 Feb. 1993; Marci Beeke, “BYUSA Takes $3000 Trip,” Daily Universe, 30 June 1993; [p.116]Claudia Argueta and Marci Beeke, “Student Leaders Defend Use of Funds, say BYUSA Rafting Trips Not All Fun,” Daily Universe, 31 Mar. 1994.
143. One of the sometimes successful tools a president can use to help shape Daily Universe coverage is a warm, personal letter. Holland wrote many such letters during his presidency—often to the editor-in-chief at the beginning of his or her tenure. For example, in January 1985 he wrote to one student journalist, “I’ve just finished reading your report of our devotional message yesterday. Seldom have I seen a long and rather detailed message so skillfully and suitably summarized. (In some ways I liked your summary better than our talk!)” (Holland to John Gallacher, 16 Jan. 1985). To another journalist in March 1987, he wrote, “I was very impressed with the skillful way you developed the March 2 number of ‘Monday Edition’ to focus on and revolve around Ernest Boyer’s visit to campus. ‘“ Keep up the good work” (Holland to Steve Hawkins, 3 Mar. 1987). He wrote in January 1988, “The circumstances which require us to hold Monday classes on Saturday were difficult at best for all involved. However, thanks to the superb article which appeared January 7th edition of the Daily Universe, the confusion and difficulties of that convoluted schedule were greatly minimized” (Holland to Brian T. West, 14 Jan. 1988). Later that same month Holland wrote, “May I thank you and the entire Daily Universe editorial staff for the very generous and impressive coverage you gave my recent devotional address. I was honored by the Universe Opinion which was written on the subject and impressed that such a fine condensation of the entire talk was run on the op-ed page” (Holland to West, 25 Jan. 1988). That fall he wrote, “Camille, this is probably a little early in the semester for me to be dishing out compliments but I was very impressed with the front page of Thursday’s Daily Universe . … Good luck to you and your staff for a strong, high-minded and well-written journalistic year” (Holland to Camille Goodrich, 1 Sept. 1988). And at the end of the month, he wrote Goodrich, “Two weeks ago you ran in The Daily Universe a ‘Universe Opinion’ on the BYU Code of Honor. I am writing (a bit belatedly) to thank you for that excellent editorial which I clipped and shared with my President’s Council” (Holland to Goodrich, 29 Sept. 1988).
144. Over the years other proposals have been to place the Universe back under the jurisdiction of the student government, as is often the case at other schools. Gholdston thought this was a bad idea. “If the college paper is run by the student government … then you might have one ‘open’ leaning administration, but then the next one might not let you run anything negative at all,” he told one reporter in 1991. “When you’re talking about student governments, you’re usually talking less mature and calm minds … and all sorts of things can happen” (Russell Fox, “Student Review Presents a Focus on the Daily Universe,” Student Review, 4 Dec. 1991).
145. Vicki Oltrogge, “ASBYU Submits Proposal to Restructure Universe,” Daily Universe, 21 Mar. 1986; also see ‘: Journalism Department Best Qualified to Run Paper,” Daily Universe, 27 Mar. 1986; Sheridan R. Hansen, “Reporters Should Police Themselves,” Daily Universe, 27 Mar. 1986.
146. The following paragraphs rely heavily on Bryan Waterman, “Student Review and BYU: Over Ten Years of Un-Official Press (and Official Resistance) in Provo,” Sunstone, Oct. 1997,48-54. Regarding the honors program’s changed attitude toward the Review, Waterman writes that “In many ways, the Maeser Building had served as the Review’s only sense of belonging—its only home—on BYU’s campus” (53).
149. The idea for the parody actually originated with Universe staffers them-[p.117]selves. In 1979 student editors advertised a new BYU-published book, Free Agency and How to Enforce It, in a self-parody called the Unifarce (Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 264). Also, Wilkinson wrote in his official history of the university, “Increases in sophistication, maturity, and social consciousness have all been shown to such an extent that the [Daily Universe] is much less frequently referred to with that student-coined phrase that had become well known on the campus in earlier years—’The Daily Unifarce’“ (Wilkinson, Brigham Young University, 175). At the Universe, humor is something that comes and goes with the various staff personalities each semester. Humor can sometimes be found in special freshman orientation or holiday editions. For recent examples, see Brian Kagel, “Dating Horrors—33 Ways to Tell Your Date is a Deadbeat,” Daily Universe, 27 Aug. 1992; Ken Meyers, “Top 20 Reasons to Hate the U of U,” Daily Universe, 26 Aug. 1993; Matthew Franck, “Bored? 101 Uses for Cranberry Sauce,” Daily Universe, 22 Nov. 1993. Of course, the sections many students laugh at most are unintentionally funny: letters to the editor and “Police Beat,” a column that summarizes recent campus crimes. See Taylor Syphus, “BYU ‘Crime’ Blurbs Prove No News Truly is Good News,” Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Oct. 1996.
150. In 1991 one Universe editor, Mark L. Reed, wrote in an essay for Student Review that he enjoyed the independent magazine when it took humorous jabs at the “idiosyncrasies of our Mormon culture.” However, when the Review focused too much on “serious,” “fringe,” or “taboo” topics, it lost readers such as himself. “After reading some of the articles in the homosexual issue, I guess I just kind of tuned out for a while. I don’t know if I am prejudiced or if I thought some of the articles went a little too far,” he wrote. “Maybe my problem is I still want to laugh and not be revolted at the same time.” Reed added that “[s]ometimes it appears SR is comprised of English majors who merely have an ax to grind” (Reed, “The Universe Looks at the Review,” Student Review, 10 Apr. 1991). Homosexuality is one topic Universe editors are cautioned not to cover (see Brent L. Foster, “Headlines Reveal Differences About Y,” Daily Universe, 8 Jan 1992). However, at times something on the topic slips into the paper. For example. see Anonymous, “On Being a Homosexual at BYU,” Daily Universe, 21 Jan. 1993; Jeff Ray to the editor, Daily Universe, 26 Jan. 1993; Megan Ettinger to the editor, Daily Universe, 28 Jan 1993; Irene Chen, “Symposium Speaker Encourages Tolerance,” Daily Universe, 9 Sept. 1993.
153. For example, Fox attended a rally for populist presidential candidate James “Bo” Gritz in October 1992. In his article—which ran as a straight news piece not an editorial-Fox mocked Gritz. Some on campus were critical of the Universe’s lack of “objective” reporting and complained to advisors. Fox, “Supporters Swear Allegiance to Gritz and Constitution,” Daily Universe, 26 Oct. 1992.
154. Matthew MacLean, “Athletes and Alcohol: A Cover-up Conspiracy?” Student Review, 16 Mar. 1994; Joan O’Brien, “Newspapers Vanish With Story About BYU Athletes Who Drink,” Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Apr. 1994; Rommyn Skipper, “Were Copies of Student Paper Stolen?” Deseret News, 15 Apr. 1994; Allan Wolper, “Off-Campus Paper Took Heat for Expose on Athletes,” Editor & Publisher, 5 Nov. 1994, 16-18, 38.
159. This incident is detailed in court documents from a lawsuit filed against [p.118] BYU. Bud Orr, a Cougar football star from the late 1980s, accused the university of a “win at all costs” attitude that encouraged team trainers to ignore serious back injuries, ending Orr’s shot at an NFL career. See Ted Cilwick, “Ex-Player, BYU Brace for Off-Field War,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 July 1993; Marianne Funk, “Ex-Athlete Levels ‘Win at All Cost’ Accusation at Y,” Deseret News, 24 Aug. 1993; Pat Poyfair, “Former Cougar Bob Davis Says Y Broke Rules,” Daily Universe, 15 Sept. 1993.
164. A year after the Nu Skin debacle, the Universe took a little heat over a Kennedy family cartoon. “The Daily Universe has gone too far outside the realm of common decency and sensitivity with its … ‘Kennedy-bashing’ editorial cartoon,” Bryan L. W. Kennedy wrote. “As a Kennedy—one of the first to join the LDS Church and abide by its precepts—I was incensed that such derogatory material would be granted space in the so-called ‘respectable’ paper at BYU.” He said that he would not defend the actions of some Kennedys, but “to defame an entire family because of the actions of one or two of its members is inexcusable” (Kennedy to the editor, Daily Universe, 19 Feb. 1992).
165. “In Wednesday’s issue of The Daily Universe, a cartoon appeared on this page that implied that Provo-based Nu Skin was involved in illegal activity,” the apology read. “The Daily Universe regrets the implication” (“Apology to Nu Skin,” Daily Universe, 4 Apr. 1991).
166. The Universe received several letters from Nu Skin officials. Scott E. Schwerdt, director of distributor services and a BYU alumnus, wrote, “I will now hire graduates from schools other than BYU.” He also warned students not to “consider my actions an idle threat.” After the Universe printed angry letters saying Schwerdt had overreacted and had possibly opened himself up for discrimination lawsuits, Schwerdt issued a public apology of his own. See Dennis Romboy, “Nu Skin Cartoon Leaves Bruises, Sparks Brouhaha,” Deseret News, 13 Apr. 1991.
169. In one editorial, published by the L.A. Times, VOICE student leaders wrote about the backward campus positions on rape and cited recent Universe coverage as one of the “worst examples of this kind of attitude” (Lara Harris and Kody Partridge, “College Administrators Need to Raise their Rape Consciousness,” L.A. Times, 15 Dec. 1991).
173. Zoology Professor Duane E. Jeffery had put the original packet together with statements including a 1909 Improvement Era article by Joseph F. Smith, a 1959 letter from President David O. McKay, a 1976 President Spencer W. Kimball address, a 1987 Ensign article from the “I Have a Question” section, and a 1988 Ensign article by President Ezra Taft Benson. See Geoffrey M. Thatcher, “LDS Statements [p.119]on Evolution Available,” Daily Universe, 3 Oct. 1991. For earlier evolution controversies, see Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 131-71.
174. The new packet was compiled by Robert Millet, dean of religious education, William E. Evenson, dean of physical and mathematical sciences, and Clayton S. Huber, dean of biology and agriculture. It included official church statements from 1909 and 1925 as well as a First Presidency message from 1910. Also included was the article on evolution from the semi-official Encyclopedia of Mormonism. In Provost Bruce C. Hafen’s memo accompanying the packet, he expresses appreciation “for the help of those who prepared this material, as well as the help of the Board of Trustees. This kind of constructive and harmonious effort reflects the sense of unity and community toward which we aspire in studying important questions that have serious academic and religious implications” (Hafen to Deans Council, 12 Oct. 1992).
176. Thatcher, “LDS Statements on Evolution Available”; “Practice Evolution,” Daily Universe, 3 Oct. 1991; Spencer R. Morensen to the editor, Daily Universe, 3 Oct. 1991; Steve Short and Brent Beal to the editor, Daily Universe, 9 Oct. 1991; William E. Evenson to the editor, Daily Universe, 16 Oct. 1991.
179. Thatcher, as a Universe senior reporter, had written an article a year earlier announcing that the original packet was being made available to students. See Thatcher, “LDS Statements on Evolution Available.”
182. The article also cited other former staffers Melissa Madsen Fox and Ted Nguyen, who said they had been censored on the editorial page. Former editor-in-chief Tad Walch disputed Nguyen’s and Fox’s claims, adding that he thought Wolper’s article “blew things out of proportion.” “I think that the Universe isn’t different than most other papers,” he said. “I think we learned how to push the envelope. I learned a lot about how to deal with sticky issues that “Will happen in the real world at whatever newspaper you are at” (Sheila Sanchez, “Does BYU Allow a Free Press?” Daily Herald, 14 Nov. 1994).
184. “It’s a startling situation to have a provost of a university editing a story,” said John Hughes, director of BYU’s International Media Studies Program and Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s one of the examples of the problems that exist here. Brian was in anguish.” “I have no doubts that it must have happened,” said Gholdston, referring to the editing session. “The university, as a religious institution, is sensitive to material on evolution” (ibid., 17).
189. Laura Andersen Callister and Brian West, “Suspect Linked to Guns Left at Square,” Daily Universe, 8 Feb. 1993; Michael Phillips, “BYU Intruder Had Visions of [p.120]Being Next LDS Prophet,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Feb. 1993; Lili Wright, “Witnesses Won’t Forget Hymn, BYU Bomb Threat,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Feb. 1993.
192. Ken Meyers, “Terrorist Interrupts Fireside”; Ray Sewell, Dawn Anderson, and Sandy Howlett, “10-Minute Marriott Center Incident Ends Peacefully; Suspect in Custody”; Emily Gilliland and Tad R. Walch, “Suspect Faces Felony Charge”; Rebecca Reeves, “Pres. Hunter’s Fireside, Resumes Following Scare”; and Michelle Erickson, “Satellite Audience Left in Dark During Threat,” all in Daily Universe, 8 Feb. 1993; Ernest Geigenmiller, ‘Judy Reveals Letter Content in One-On-One Interview”; and Vikki K. Turner, both in “Update on Marriott Center Ordeal,” Daily Universe, 9 Feb. 1993; Marisa Whittaker Humphrey, “Universe Staff Members Win Many Regional Honors,” Daily Universe, 28 Apr. 1994.
193. The strained relationship was not surprising considering Lee’s opinion of the media. For example, at one campus luncheon he was asked for his view on feminism. Lee replied: “What you want me to say is one thing. But I’m not going to say that because I know the great propensity that journalists have to take words and twist them” (Wolper, “Censorship at BYU,” 45).
196. Lee to H***********, 26 May 1993. In another incident in July, Lee admonished Universe editors to “get the story right.” One reporter had obtained a confidential memo circulated at BYU’s dairy which revealed that seven cows, all diagnosed with salmonella, had recently been isolated from the herd. One of the dairy’s administrators, Max Wallentine, complained about the story to Lee. Lee forwarded Wallentine’s remarks, along with his thoughts, to Gholdston. “Sometimes I almost get the impression that our student journalists would rather not do the careful checking, because they fear that if they learn the facts, they will find that there is no story …. I hope this impression is wrong,” Lee wrote, “but I am frustrated over the fact that it is so liberally fed from time to time by circumstantial evidence” (Lee to Gholdston, 15 July 1993; Marci Beeke, “Salmonella Found in BYU Milk Cows,” Daily Universe, 6 July 1993).
197. Melissa Bean, “Mother God Repressed, VOICE Told,” Daily Universe, 17 June 1993. Bean had actually written a more balanced article on the gathering, but Kagel, campus editor, and Tad Walch, editor-in-chief, told her to move the more sensational comments toward the front of the story. Bean, under protest, made the changes. That night, during routine copy editing, part of the article covering the substance of Toscano’s presentation was cut to make the article fit the “news hole” that was available.
199. Kagel was at that informal meeting, 21June 1993. A year and a half earlier the Universe ran a front-page photo of a male student posing in women’s clothes. Grant Solomon wore the knee-length pink skirt to classes one day to fulfill a roommate’s “double-dog dare” and to “razz the honor code.” Faculty advisors got flack from school administrators, prompting them to tell Universe editors not to give space to standards violators and others who were breaking school rules. See T. Scott Niendorf, photograph, “Skirting the Issue,” Daily Universe, 15 Jan. 1992.
202. Tad Walch (unsigned), “The Best-ism is ‘Eracism,’” Daily Universe, 2 Sept. 1993. One professor strenuously objected to a part of the editorial that said a BYU [p.121]professor of history had told a class that it was “unnecessary to discuss the contributions of blacks to American history because … there are none.” “It is extremely difficult—in fact virtually impossible—for me to believe that any professor in the BYU History Department made [that] racist remark,” Thomas G. Alexander wrote. “Unless you can actually identify the professor who made the statement, we ought to conclude that you fabricated the example.” Alexander challenged the Universe to “Name the professor or apologize to the department!” (Alexander to the editor, Daily Universe, 8 Sept. 1993). Walch did neither; he responded that the paper “has confirmed with its sources that the incident … did take place” (Walch, “Editor’s Note,” Daily Universe, 8 Sept. 1993).
207. Dennis Romboy, “Catalog For Posters Removed From BYU’s Student Newspaper,” Deseret News, 10 Sept. 1994; Joan O’Brien, “Y. Newspaper Recalls Advertising Insert After ‘Offensive Material’ is Discovered,” Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Sept. 1994; see also Brent Israelsen, “A Free Press? Utah College Papers Decide All Ads Aren’t Fit to Print,” Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Mar. 1996. The Universe faced a similar situation in March 1986 when pranksters inserted a number of ads for a “Nevada-based, sexually oriented service” into newspapers at various on-campus distribution sites (“Cheesecake Ads Sneak Into Paper,” Daily Universe, 20 Mar. 1986).
208. BYU Self-Study, 76; Janna Nielsen, “Elder Eyring Praises Self-Study, Encourages Continuance of Work,” Daily Universe, 5 Sept. 1995; Jeanette Bennett, “BYU Self Study Released, Given to Departments,” Daily Universe, 10 Jan. 1996; Joan O’Brien, “Study: Despite Some Sniffles, BYU Basically Healthy,” Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Jan. 1996; Sharon M. Haddock, “Self-Study Poiuts Out Areas that Could Use Change at Y.,” Deseret News, 14 Jan. 1996; Jeanette Bennett, “Low Employee Morale Caused by Dead-end-Jobs,” Daily Universe. 24 Jan. 1996. One area that also got some attention was the committee’s comments on “low employee morale” as a result of the university’s “infrequent opportunities for growth, mobility, and career development” (52). Another was a section on grade inflation. “Average course grades and particularly the number of As and Bs have increased in most departments,” reviewers noted, suggesting that the academic vice president begin a “campus-wide dialogue that brings everyone together” on the issue (64).
210. Stephen J. Parker to the editor, Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Jan. 1996. Although for very different reasons, another former Universe staffer spoke out on a local editorial page the next year. He was angry that the university had “so callously” fired basketball coach Roger Reid the previous year, because of one bad start to a season—a decision the former sports and opinion editor saw as “shallow at best and vindictive at worst. I’m sure at some point I will forgive BYU,” he wrote, “but I would like to see some remorse from the university also” (Rommyn Skipper to the editor, Deseret News, 1 Oct. 1997).
211. Mark Eddington, “New BYU President Quick Learner,” Daily Herald, 28 Jan. 1996. One of the first things Bateman did the following year was encourage BYU professors and staff to help the Universe. “I have been following developments at the Universe closely and believe that a good student newspaper is becoming better,” he wrote. “Changes—both in content and design—on the editorial page and in other departments of the paper are encouraging.” He added that a “new advisory board has been established, with faculty and student ‘representation, which is moni-[p.122]toring and encouraging the Universe’s progress.” One thing Bateman asked was that professors and staff be “available and forthright” when approached by Universe reporters on “legitimate” news stories in their areas (Bateman to Colleagues, 1 Jan. 1997).
212. Brent Harker, “BYU’s Board Approves First Self Study Recommendations,” press release, 17 Sept. 1996; Carmen Durland, “4 Departments Will Change From Self study Advisement,” Daily Universe, 18 Sept. 1996. Perry Smith, founder and president of the BYU Conservative DittoHead club, was one student who was likely disappointed by the university’s decision not to move the newspaper. Smith complained about the “liberal” Universe throughout his 1996 polemic Feminism, Liberalism, and BYU (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc., 1996). In one chapter, “The Daily Uni-FARCE,” he wrote that not only had the student paper ignored the Relief Society during women’s month (March 1996), but it had refused to run a story on Smith’s earlier face-to-face visit with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. See also Patrick D. Poyfair, “Y. Student Dives into New Wave,” Deseret News, 19 Mar. 1995; Kristen Sonne, “Books Torn Over Controversy,” Daily Universe, 24 Jan. 1997. For more on Smith, see chap. 8.
222. This is not a new problem. Technical aspects of the profession have long overshadowed ethics. Over time a student who is hired as a paid staffer may become acquainted with these issues, but the typical journalism student usually does not. Authors’ interview with Gholdston, 27 May 1998.
223. For example, one evening in the early 1990s, Dave Farnworth, the night editor, decided that the humorous caption, “The Laying on of Hands,” which accompanied a photograph of BYU basketball players holding the head of a opposing player in a scramble for the ball, would not be appropriate.
227. Other findings: 47 percent of BYU students rely on television for their news and information, about 50 percent read Student Review—a statistic that would surprise and encourage most of the struggling independent magazine’s staffers. See “Study on the Daily Universe,” for Professor Richard Kagel, Communications 391R, Spring 1998.
232. There is probably a fair number of faculty members who feel they have been “burned”—quoted incorrectly by the Universe or otherwise mistreated. Those in this camp would be much more likely to talk to any media outlet but the Universe.
240. Over the years Universe employees have worked to position the paper as a product of an LDS church-owned school by running a student “Scripture of the Day,” extensively advertising and covering on-campus general authority speeches, and printing special full-color general conference editions.
242. Gholdston pointed out that at conservative BYU “[t]here is a danger in alienating your audience in the name of trying to accomplish something grand.” Then you “end up writing to your mothers, or to yourselves,” he said. “Without an audience picking up the paper, the paper has no strength, and then what’s your reason for existing?” (Fox, “Student Review Presents”).
243. Pragmatic journalism students at BYU also quickly realize that (1) the best way to get a job after graduation is to stay with the staff and be productive; that (2) Universe staffers have access to some of the best journalism-related computer hardware and software around (updated and replaced every three years); and that (3) student editors easily have some of the best paying jobs on campus.