Financially and editorially independent of Yale University since its founding, the paper is published by a student editorial and business staff five days a week, Monday through Friday, during Yale's academic year. Called the YDN (or sometimes the News,the Daily News, or the Daily Yalie), the paper is produced in the Briton Hadden Memorial Building at 202 York Street in New Haven and printed off-site at Turley Publications in Palmer, Massachusetts.
Each day, reporters, mainly freshmen and sophomores, cover the university, the city of New Haven and sometimes the state of Connecticut. An expanded sports section is published on Monday, a two-page Opinion Forum on Friday, and "WEEKEND", an arts and living section, also on Friday. The News prints an Arts & Culture spread on Wednesdays and a Science and Technology spread on Tuesdays. "Yale TV", the broadcast desk of the Yale Daily News, publishes an online video segment Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Staff members are generally elected as editors on the managing board during their junior year. A single chairman led the News until 1970. Today, the editor-in-chief and publisher act as co-presidents of the Yale Daily News Publishing Company. The "News' View," a staff editorial, represents the position of the majority of the editorial board.
In 1969, Yale College became coeducational, and by 1972, Mally Cox and Lise Goldberg were elected as the first female members of the YDN editorial board. Andy Perkins was elected as the first female editor in chief in 1981, and Amy Oshinsky was elected as the first female publisher in 1977.
The paper version of the News is distributed for free throughout Yale's campus and the city of New Haven and is also published online. The paper was once a subscription-only publication, delivered to student postal boxes for $40 a year. Subscriptions declined after the 1986 founding of the weekly (and free) Yale Herald student newspaper, bottoming out at 570 in 1994. The News switched to free distribution later that year.
In 1978, the Oldest College Daily Foundation was created following a capital campaign to prevent the university from buying the Briton Hadden Memorial Building. The News survived for a century "solely on the income generated by subscription and ad sales."
The News serves as a training ground for journalists at Yale, and has produced a steady stream of professional reporters, who work at newspapers and magazines including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and The Economist.
In addition to the newspaper, the Yale Daily News Publishing Company also produces a monthly Yale Daily News Magazine; special issues of the newspaper for the incoming freshman class, Family Weekend, Yale's Class Day and Commencement, and The Game against Harvard University; and The Insider's Guide to the Colleges.
In 1920, the News began to report on national news and viewpoints. In 1940 and 1955, when professional dailies were not operating due to unrest among its workers, the News continued to report on national topics. Today, the Nation and World sections publish stories and photos from the Associated Press.
On September 3, 2008, the "Oldest College Daily" "premiere[d] a new look" designed by Mario Garcia of Garcia Media and Pegie Stark Adam of Stark Adam Design. The News' front page design for November 5, 2008, the day after Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 Presidential Election was featured in the Poynter Institute book: President Obama Election 2008: Collection of Newspaper Front Pages by the Poynter Institute.
On September 10, 2009, the News broke the news of the murder of Annie Le, a Yale graduate student reported missing and subsequently found murdered in the basement of her laboratory. In April 2016, the News broke the University's decision to retain the namesake of Calhoun College but eliminate the title "master", as well as the Yale Corporation's commitment to the namesake of Benjamin Franklin College three years before its public announcement.
In summer 2010, the 78-year-old Briton Hadden Memorial Building was renovated, increasing the amount of usable space in the basement and adding a multimedia studio in the heart of the newsroom.
The Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University has a copy of every issue published between 1890 and 1959.
The News, founded in 1878, calls itself the "oldest college daily" in the United States, a claim contested by other student newspapers.
The Harvard Crimson calls itself "the oldest continuously published college daily", but it was founded in 1873 as a fortnightly publication called The Magenta and did not appear daily until 1883. (The News ceased publishing briefly during World War I and World War II after editors volunteered for military service.) The Daily Targum at Rutgers University was founded in 1869 but was published initially as a monthly newspaper and did not gain independence from the University until 1980. The Columbia Daily Spectator, founded one year earlier than the YDN in 1877, calls itself the second-oldest college daily, but was not independent until the 1960s. Similarly, The Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley, was founded in 1871 but did not achieve independence until 1971. The Cornell Daily Sun, launched in 1880, calls itself the "oldest independent college newspaper", notwithstanding the YDN's independence since its founding two years earlier. The Dartmouth of Dartmouth College, which opened in 1799 as the Dartmouth Gazette, calls itself the oldest college newspaper, though not the oldest daily.
Most accurately put, the News is the oldest independent college daily newspaper.
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