Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM
How the Daily Bruin Became a Training Ground for Leadership and One of the Best-Known College Newspapers in America
Tony Auth '65 was a year out of UCLA and the chief medical illustrator at a Downey hospital when the Daily Bruin saved his professional life — and launched a 35-year career.
Though Auth had penned lighthearted editorial cartoons about campus life and sports while an undergrad, he'd recently become interested in politics, which meant he needed a public canvas to display his political cartoons and help him get hired by a professional newspaper. So the young illustrator offered his services free to the Bruin, and its editors bit, even though, he confides, "I would have paid them."
For five years, Auth drew three cartoons a week (but kept his medical day job), hand delivering every one to the Bruin newsroom in Kerckhoff Hall. When a position opened at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Auth was able to send them a choice sampling from a now-thick political cartoon portfolio. Five years later, Auth won the Pulitzer Prize. Now, still at the Inquirer after more than three decades, Auth is considered one of the finest political cartoonists of his generation.
Inspiring? Yes. Impressive? Undoubtedly. Unusual? Hardly.
The Bruin, as old as the university itself, has long served as UCLA's unofficial journalism school, even when the university actually had a journalism school (which it hasn't for more than 30 years). Like Auth, many former Bruin Bruins have gone on to greatness, a list that includes three Pulitzer Prize winners and one recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Society of Professional Journalists named the Bruin the best U.S. daily college newspaper in 2003. So did the prestigious Associated Collegiate Press — twice in the past four years.
"Any medium-sized town would be glad to have a news publication as good as the Daily Bruin," former Los Angeles Times Editor John S. Carroll said when naming it Southern California's best college newspaper in 2003.
Along the way, the Bruin, once a black-and-white tabloid of six pages and now a 12–40-page color broadsheet, just like most metro papers, has chronicled and sometimes created change, fierce debate, colorful characters and, of course, controversy.