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@State - the SDSU Student Newsletter

Daily Aztec Centennial May 13

The Daily Aztec Celebrates 100 Years of Reporting

Daily Aztec logo: The Newspaper of SDSU since 1913Since 1913, San Diego State University's student newspaper has covered every on-campus landmark event while documenting the university’s news and history.

The celebration of its centennial marks much more than 10 decades of reporting on the university. It also celebrates the rich history of SDSU. And it will culminate in a gala event on May 13 at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.

History

In 1913, the San Diego Normal School approved a motion for a student-run newspaper. The Normal News Weekly’s premier edition was released on Nov. 26 that year with the headline "Supervisors and Student Teachers Have Meeting."

In 1921, The Normal News Weekly changed its name to the Paper Lantern. During World War II, The Aztec, still a four-page weekly, also published a newsletter for students in the Armed Services.

The paper’s popularity eventually demanded a daily release, resulting in the current name, The Daily Aztec. Joan Plouride's feature, "New Judiciary System Offered to AS Council" graced the inaugural cover on Friday, Sept. 23, 1960.

The Daily Aztec today consists of more than 100 staff members and is completely student-run. Positions include entertainment writers, ad sales, copy chief and editors for each section of the paper. It relies solely on advertising sales to fund operations, printing costs and staff.

Changes over time

Since the newspaper’s inception, the chain of command has drastically changed.

Normal News - June 1915 was the first campus newspaper for San Diego Normal School (University Archives photo)The Normal News Weekly and Paper Lantern both had strict leadership and less freedom of expression. Students had to be careful of what they wrote for fear of casting the university in a negative light.

The Daily Aztec, now completely operated by students, has much more editorial freedom that spans from university news and events to controversial general topics.

“We hold news meetings every week to brainstorm story ideas for the week to come," said current Daily Aztec writer, Stephanie Saccente.

"Each writer can pitch their story ideas to the editors and other staff writers and if it's timely and can be related to the students on our campus, the story is assigned and published in the paper. But we have a lot of freedom to write about what we want."

Technological advances in the last two decades have changed the way the newspaper operates. From online access to stories, to quick emails between writers and editors, The Daily Aztec has evolved with the times.

“I remember covering a football game against Cal (in 1993) where one of our reporters had to call me late at night so I could transcribe his story before our deadline,” said Greg Block, currently SDSU’s director of media relations and new media. “Now, a simple e-mail would do the trick.”

The Aztec goes Daily: September 1960 issue announces major changes for the campus newspaper (University Archives photo)But despite changes in technology and culture, one thing remains the same: the Daily Aztec's mission statement, dedicated to serving the people.

Inspiring future journalists

From covering statewide elections to offering invaluable experiences, The Daily Aztec enables its alumni to pursue their dream careers.

The success of the paper is evident in its 100-year anniversary celebration this year.

Block reminisced on his time at The Daily Aztec:
“The Daily Aztec was like a fraternity to me,” Block said. “It’s where I hung out, met friends and made connections that I still keep in touch with.”

Connected to campus

The Daily Aztec's current editor in chief, Antonio Zaragoza, also spoke of the paper's connection to the campus.

"The Daily Aztec is great for making connections around campus as well as staying connected to the school," Zaragoza said. "It's a part of the university; it's not just a newspaper."

Currently, the Daily Aztec staff members are attempting to recreate the first issue of the San Diego Normal News Weekly.

Fueling careers

Many of those who worked for The Daily Aztec credit the paper for kick-starting their passion for journalism and for giving them the skills necessary to obtain a career in the media industry.

The Daily Aztec has launched the careers of such notable alumni as:

  • Lalo Alcaraz, creator of La Cucaracha comic strip
  • Nick Canepa, UT San Diego
  • Cathy Clark, former NBC San Diego anchor
  • Armen Keteyian, 60 Minutes Sports and CBS News correspondent
  • J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5
  • Dan Weintraub, Sacramento Bee