The Maneater's 40th anniversary

Story by Kristen Ostendorf, Jennifer Campbell and Tracie Ade

Research by Tim Fredrick, Tonya Goth, Gina Hosler, Jenny Vessels and Anne Vayda

NOTE: This originally appeared in the Feb. 17, 1995, edition of The Maneater.

The phone rang in his Lawrence, Kan., home. It sounded like any other call on any other night. His wife answered the phone in her normal tone and quickly handed it to him.

"Hello?" he asked.

An unfamiliar voice was on the other end of the line. "Hello, Mr. Gold. This is Kristen Ostendorf, and I'm a reporter for The Maneater at the University of Missouri-Columbia."


"Well, it must be another five years," he replied.

Joe Gold said he expects to hear a young Maneater reporter on the other end of the line every five years. Every anniversary, Gold is asked to dredge up memories that are now 40 years old.

In 1955 Gold, the founding editor of The Maneater, did not expect the weekly eight-page tabloid with a circulation of about 2,000 to turn into the student newspaper with a circulation of 21,000 that it is today.

"We never aspired that high. We only hoped we could stay in school until we graduated," he said.

But the 40 years of history that accompanies The Maneater's existence also is somewhat unexpected. History is almost like painting a portrait. The portrait that is MU wasn't painted in a day, a semester, a year or even a decade.

In its 40 years, The Maneater has created a portrait of its own that is closely tied to the history of the campus, the city and the nation. Except it involves a lot more booze and flammable objects.

The '50s

In 1955, Norm Stewart was the start player on the MU basketball team. Female students had a curfew of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday nights. Nine thousand students attended the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The Delta Upsilon fraternity basically ran the student newspaper, The Missouri Student. The Student was a social record of campus, more concerned with parties than journalism. Gold, then the editor of campus humor magazine Showme, was invited by the Student Publications Board to apply for editor-in-chief of the paper. When he got the job, he also got a request to change things.

"We came in with a mandate to shake things up a bit and we did," Gold said. "The feeling was the Student needed new blood."

And that new blood called for a new name.

"The Missouri Student is dead," read the front page of the first issue of The Maneater, produced from 212 Read Hall on Feb. 18, 1955.

Gold changed the name of the Student to The Maneater, a name that reflected the new attitude Gold envisioned for the student newspaper.

"'Maneater' sounded more dangerous," he said.

But Gold soon discovered that the name he chose didn't fit the image he had envisioned for The Maneater. During a trip to the health center in the spring of 1955, a doctor informed Gold that a man-eating tiger wasn't so fierce and bold. A man-eating tiger only begins to eat people when it's too weak to pursue its normal prey.

Gold kept the real meaning of the new name a secret, knowing the definition would only destroy the new attitude he created.

"Maneater reporters will sneak into meetings, eavesdrop on private party business and generally get into your hair ... When The Maneater gets mad, all hell is going to break loose," Gold wrote in an editorial titled "A Word to the Unwise."

And Gold had a lot more to learn about newspapers and journalism.

"I didn't know the first thing about putting out a newspaper," he said.

Gold never was in the School of Journalism. He graduated with a major in sociology and a minor in creative writing. He now teaches English at the University of Kansas.

He recruited Lee Athmer, a journalism student, as his managing editor to help him with his lack of experience in the field.

"The combination worked out beautifully," Gold said.

For 10 cents an issue, readers could peruse the "Who's Doing What To Whom" feature, an extensive roundup of the social scene, and columns by Gold, Athmer and Glenn "Mad Dog" Kirchoff.

In 1958, Elva Nourse Sieg became the first female editor-in-chief of The Maneater.

"We would have stories that the university didn't always agree with," she said. "There was always controversy. The student government didn't like what we did, and we didn't like what the student government did."

Sieg, as the 1959 Savitar notes, wrote a "famous or is it infamous" feature. One of her columns listing the positive accomplishments of student leaders was two inches of white space.

The more things change...

The '60s

In 1960, curfews still were in effect for women living on campus. The university's students were its children. Over the next 10 years, those children would grow up.

In 1959, Dan Devine was coaching one of the best football teams MU had ever seen. They were ranked No. 1 by both the Associated Press and United Press International sports polls.

By that time, The Maneater had fallen into bad plights financially, said Jon Cozean, editor for the 1959-60 school year, who now runs a funeral home in Farmington, Mo., and teaches American history and government.

"We were told we had to make a profit, or that would be the last year of The Maneater," Cozean said.

This began a string of special promotions to revive The Maneater financially. A Big Dog on Campus feature was started to increase sales of the paper.

Then The Maneater decided to start a contest promising to send a student to the Orange Bowl if MU made it to the game. But The Maneater didn't have the money to send anyone to Miami.

As the football season wore on, it became more apparent that the Tigers would make it to the Bowl game. The Maneater staff began to root for teams playing the Tigers, Cozean said. Probably for the first and last time, the entire Maneater staff rooted for KU during the final game of the season.

When the time came to pay for the trip, The Maneater had to ante up. "The whole staff chipped in money ... I hit my dad up for $50," he said.

MU lost to Georgia in the Orange Bowl, 14-0. The Maneater bought a bus ticket to Miami and sent a student to the game. Luckily, the athletic department paid for the actual ticket to the game.

But the war in Vietnam soon came to the forefront of issues for the nation and the MU campus. The entire nation was at war with itself over U.S. involvement. The conflict spilled on to the MU campus as well.

On Oct. 15, 1969, MU participated in the Moratorium on the Vietnam War, a nationwide protest, when about 2,500 MU students packed on to Lowry Mall. They marched to the Federal Building carrying signs and chanting in Hindu, "Jaiee, Jaiee, Gopalah, Gopalah," which means "May the God force flow through you and your loved ones."

The Maneater covered the protest in the Oct. 14 and 17 issues, with pages and pages of stories and pictures before and after the Moratorium. An editorial summarized the high emotions of the time: "No matter one's stand or noncommitment, the Moratorium activities brought the question of the Vietnam War alive."

It wasn't the first or last time The Maneater would write about or have problems because of the war.

Betsey Bruce took over The Maneater during the political upheaval of 1969. Bruce was more conservative than the rest of the staff; during her second semester as editor, a conflict developed about how much The Maneater should cover the anti-war protests. The associate editors and many reporters walked out one night in protest. Bruce and the sports staff finished the paper alone.

"They felt I wasn't enough of an activist journalist. I felt we needed a more balanced paper," she said. "I wanted to cover that, but it wasn't our sole purpose."

Indeed, other issues clouded the campus scene. In 1969, Barbara Papish, an MU graduate student, and three other students sold an issue of the Columbia Free Press Underground in front of Memorial Union. In the issue was an article accompanied by a political cartoon with the headline "Mother Fucker Acquitted." The cartoon was of Chicago policemen raping the Statue of Liberty.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators expelled Papish for the vulgar drawing. Papish sued, claiming her First Amendment rights had been violated. Papish vs. the Board of Curators went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Papish won, and the board had to let her attend MU. Her case was one of the more important First Amendment cases in history.

The Papish case presented special problems for The Maneater. Bruce decided to print the caption with a story about the incident.

But the School of Journalism composers who printed the paper decided they couldn't typeset the caption and left it blank. When The Maneater came out, it had dashes where the caption was.

"[This was my] first serious issue as editor when I decided how to handle it," Bruce said.

The Maneater also became a semi-weekly publication during 1969.

"I just felt we had more news and we had to be more current," she said.

The MU campus was the site of yet another protest against the Vietnam War. When four students were killed at Kent State University in Ohio during a conflict between the Ohio National Guard and student anti-war demonstrators in May 1970, the founder of Peace Studies and other pacifists were arrested on the steps of Jesse Hall during a mass demonstration against the war.

Hundreds of MU students stopped going to classes, said Krissy Heitkamp, a 1969-70 Maneater staff writer who now is a senior information specialist at MU.

"The place was chaos," she said.

The last protest of the 1960s was fueled by a Maneater editor-in-chief. Rick Goodman was vice president of MSA when the Board of Curators refused to allow "intervisiting," or coed fraternization, in the residence halls. By the end of February 1970, 23 fraternities had been placed on probation for protests, and students of all stripes took over the building on campus they felt they owned — Read Hall. At the time, being inside a campus building after hours without permission was grounds for expulsion. Many of the about 300 protesters escaped this fate by posing as members of The Maneater's staff.

"The university was trying to maintain control of things," Goodman said. "People weren't angry as much as they were having a good time."

The '70s

As the Vietnam War would divide campus and the country in the early 1970s, the paper would take part in its own war later in the decade. But, at the start of the decade, the campus was mostly united.

"Most of us that age felt we had a vested interest in it," said Pat Hiatte, editor-in-chief in 1971, who currently works for a railroad company in Fort Worth, Texas. "Suddenly we find ourselves embroiled in someone else's civil war halfway across the world."

The Maneater found itself embroiled in MU's civil wars. The administration still wanted to tell students what to do outside the classroom. Regulations such as freshmen not being allowed to drive cars on campus became controversial issues, Hiatte said.

"By and large, we thought part of [The Maneater's] job was to poke at the administration from time to time, loosen it up," he said.

In 1973, The Maneater did just that. The Board of Curators fired Dean of Student Affairs Edwin Hutchins for failing to discipline students accused of disrupting a spring 1972 ROTC parade on Francis Quadrangle. Students were mad. The paper helped organize a demonstration in protest to the firing.

By the middle of the decade, the relationship between the university and The Maneater deteriorated, said John Schneller, 1975-76 university editor, who now is the city editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune.

"I think we did a good job of giving some critical examinations of some issues that were going on at the time," he said.

But the examinations and the issues were quite controversial. In 1975, The Maneater got access to a confidential memo written by the communications director for UM President C. Bryce Ratchford. The memo outlined a plan to use the extension program as a lobby for more money from the state legislature and as a boost in the university's image.

The Maneater ran a series of stories and a political controversy erupted. Gov. Kit Bond and Ratchford hadn't gotten along for a while, Schneller said. After the memo was published, Bond pressured Ratchford to quit. He did.

Over the years, The Maneater had faced competition from several other campus newspapers, but never did it come as close to closing as it did during the 1970s. Early in the '70s, a rival paper called the Campus Courier started as an alternative to The Maneater. Ray Hartmann, now the editor and publisher of The Riverfront Times in St. Louis, was the first editor-in-chief of the Campus Courier by accident. While working at The Maneater as a news editor, Hartmann signed up at an Activities Mart table for the Courier. Suddenly, they named him editor and handed him a staff.

The Courier was backed by a conservative group but was perceived as "less elitist" and "more balanced" than The Maneater, Hartmann said.

"[The Courier] was not nearly as activist as The Maneater turned out to be," he said.

The Courier was free, and in order to compete, The Maneater became free as well. The loss of 10 cents an issue and more competition for advertising put The Maneater into substantial debt that lasted until the middle of the decade.

Then, in December 1971, Hartmann ran against Jeff Gluck for editor-in-chief of The Maneater. Hartmann won, and Gluck became business manager. Without Hartmann, the Courier died and the Maneater became the only student paper on campus.

The following year, Gluck ran for editor-in-chief again and lost. He founded the Campus Digest several years later, which lasted into the early 1980s.

Other papers, both conservative and liberal, tried to compete against The Maneater, but each only lasted a few months.

While Hartmann was editor, however, the paper found it had competition of a different sort. The School of Journalism wanted to make The Maneater part of its system. This wouldn't be the first or the last time the journalism school suggested taking over The Maneater.

"We were able to give the paper its independence at a time it could have easily died, at a time it could have been swallowed up by the journalism school," Hartmann said.

Because the School of Journalism handled the printing of The Maneater, it tried to control the means of production, Hartmann said.

The dean of journalism also tried to take over The Maneater by getting Hartmann and his managing editor, Tony Roberts, kicked out of school for their bad grades.

Scholastics have always been a part of The Maneater, and usually they've been a very painful subject. Hartmann and Roberts had "The 2.9 Semester," named for the sum of their GPAs. A decade later Bryan Burrough, editor-in-chief in 1981, failed Economics 1 because of his job.

The Maneater became more and more an investigative paper with stories about the MU Police and other university departments. Although they were serious about looking for problems at MU, Maneater staff members kept themselves entertained, Schneller said.

"We had a lot of fun," he said. "That's the one thing I remember about The Maneater."

The walls of the office in Read Hall were covered with off-color quotes and old headlines from past issues. The staff spent numerous late nights at the graffiti-covered office working on the paper.

"Honestly, I spent four semesters working 80 hours a week or more," Hartmann said. "Skipped most of my classes and never gave five minutes of thought to what I would do out of school. We were so immersed in what we were doing."

The student body, however, was not very interested in the issues The Maneater covered.

"Most of the students didn't give a hoot," Hartmann said. "When I look back, I don't know if the paper was that good, but it had a lot of heart."

The '80s

In the early 1980s, the student body's attitude toward The Maneater continued to be less than encouraging.

"I think most of them ignored it, others hated it and everyone else just read it for the personals," said Burrough, who wrote "Barbarians at the Gate" and now works at Vanity Fair.

But The Maneater staff was not discouraged, especially when it came to acting wild.

When the Rolling Stones came to St. Louis in 1981, the staff ran a fake advertisement offering free concert tickets. The ad included a phone number. But when students dialed, they found out they had called the personal number of Chancellor Barbara Uehling.

"Oh God, that was fun," Burrough said. "We got in a lot of trouble."

The Maneater staff also was prone to lighting things on fire and throwing them out the third-floor window of Read Hall.

"Whenever staff members got in a bad mood, they usually ignited things," said 1985-86 Business Manager Fred Parry, who now publishes and edits the Columbia Business Times. "Usually the typewriters."

The staff would cover the typewriters with rubber cement, ignite them and hurl them to the pavement below. Then, they would retrieve the equipment and use the typewriters for the next issue.

But The Maneater was not all play. In fall 1981, The Maneater got involved in student government. Six Missouri Students Association senators tried to impeach MSA President Gail Snider for non-performance and dishonesty. The senators claimed she favored two groups by telling them where basketball tickets would be sold and appearing in commercials in direct opposition to the Senate's stand. It was the first impeachment attempt in MSA history.

"They were just going after her to get her job," Burrough said. "It's politics."

The Maneater didn't agree Snider had to go. Instead, through editorials they called for the resignations of the senators trying to impeach her.

After three weeks of negotiations, the senators withdrew support for the bill, saying it had turned into a personal vendetta.

But in 1985 a world issue was brought to campus attention. Several national groups began to protest the money U.S. companies invested in South Africa, a nation that enforced apartheid rules. MU funded some of those companies, such as Coca Cola. In protest, MU students built a "shantytown" on Francis Quadrangle. They stayed in cardboard houses representing the homes of South African blacks for several weeks. The demonstrators were arrested on charges of trespassing.

In pictures and stories, The Maneater supported the student protesters.

"The Maneater had a voice on campus, and they felt they had an obligation to support the student body," Parry said.

A year later, the university stopped investing money in those companies.

Overall, the '80s were a mixture of absolute craziness and rebellious attitudes toward the university. But dedication to journalism kept The Maneater going.

"[The staff members] were kids who didn't want to wait two years to do what they want to do," Burrough said. "[The Maneater] is there to make of it what you make of it."

In fall 1985, The Maneater left behind the graffiti-covered office at Read Hall and moved to the basement of Brady Commons.

Forty years ago, all the type on pages was set by hand. Every part of this paper — stories and photos — passed through a computer on the way to the printed page. The first press run was 2,000 copies of an eight-page paper. Today, 13,000 copies pass through Columbia and points beyond.

And after all this evolution and technology, the sweeping changes in the university and its students, the newspaper is essentially the same. Most visitors call the office "messy" when they're trying to be polite. Most staff members still consider leaving the office at 2 a.m. an "early evening." And the pressure of deadline and desire to create still forge permanent relationships. It is fairly common among the 40 years of Maneater alumni to find pairs of former staffers who met at the paper and decided to stay together much longer.

In the end, it still rests on freedom. The freedom to publish whatever students see fit. More often than not, what raises the ire of other students or administrators isn't curse words or photos or pierced male genitalia, but the news of the day. News presented by and for a student point of view.

The goals outlined in Joe Gold's editorial in the second issue of The Maneater are still valid today.

"If you want to keep us out, better bar the door," Gold wrote. "And don't try getting rough or screaming 'libel' when a reporter crashes your meetings. When The Maneater gets mad, all hell is going to break loose.

"You've been warned."

Share: Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Article comments


This item does not have any approved comments yet.

Post a comment

Please provide a full name for all comments. We don't post obscene, offensive or pure hate speech.