The Chicago Maroon

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The Chicago Maroon
Transparent-nameplate The Chicago Maroon.png
TypeWeekly newspaper
Editor-in-chiefLee Harris, Elaine Chen (Deputy)
Managing editorsDeepti Sailappan
HeadquartersIda Noyes Hall
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

The Chicago Maroon, the independent student newspaper of the University of Chicago, is a weekly publication founded in 1892. During autumn, winter, and spring quarters of the academic year, the Maroon publishes every Wednesday. The paper consists of five sections: news, opinion ("Viewpoints"), arts, sports, and Grey City. In the late summer, it publishes its annual orientation Issue (O-Issue) for entering first-year students, including sections on the University and the city of Chicago.

About The Maroon[edit]

The Chicago Maroon business office in Ida Noyes Hall

Any student at the University of Chicago can contribute to the newspaper, and many go through training and complete a series of requirements to join the Maroon as a staff member. Although the requirements have changed over time, the process of joining staff has traditionally been called "hustling." The editorial board explained in 1903 that when the newspaper changed from a weekly to a daily, many more students were needed to produce the paper, so they "hustled" (meaning both "to sell or promote energetically and aggressively" and "to convey forcibly or hurriedly") new writers and editors from the student body.

The executive board of the Maroon is effectively its Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor, which are elected in the spring by the newspaper's entire staff. There are roughly twenty editors that control the content and production of the different sections. Unsigned opinion articles are written by The Maroon Editorial Board, which consists of the editors of the paper. In addition to the editorial and journalistic staff, the Maroon also has a group of students running its business operations, led by a chief financial officer. In turn, the Maroon Business Team is composed of the development, marketing, operations and strategy teams. The Maroon Advisory Board consists of a handful of University of Chicago faculty members and administrators that meet quarterly to review the newspaper's finances. The Chicago Maroon is financially and editorially independent from the university.

Over its history the Maroon served as publisher of other independent papers at the University of Chicago, including the Grey City Journal, a weekly journal of arts and culture which featured some of the first cultural criticism by Thomas Frank, the Chicago Literary Review, a quarterly showcase for poetry and short fiction, and The Fourth Estate, the "Conservative Brother Publication of the Chicago Maroon." Currently, the Maroon publishes every Wednesday. It formerly printed Grey City, its twice-quarterly long-form supplement to the paper, but this is now a section fully integrated into the main paper.[1]


The Chicago Maroon has gone through many variations and formats, but considers 1892 to be the year of its establishment. It remains the only student organization at the University of Chicago that can trace its history to the first day the University of Chicago opened its doors to students.

The University of Chicago Weekly[edit]

A report on the history of the Maroon compiled for its centennial celebration begins, "When the U of C opened in October 1892, students were already on campus selling the U of C Weekly," which was the parent publication of the Maroon in its current form. The Weekly was established by two graduate students, Emory Forster and Jack Durno, and served as a student-run news and literary publication, even though it was owned by a local businessman.

Several publications were attempted in the first decade of the university's operation, but The Weekly was the only one that managed to stay afloat. The first of these abortive efforts was The Maroon, a daily paper published from October 17, 1892 to April 19, 1893. The next attempt was a thrice-weekly newspaper, also called The Maroon, which published from May 15, 1895 to March 20, 1896. The last was another daily, this time called The Daily Maroon, whose founding was plagued with difficulties: Days after its first printing on May 7, 1900, the Faculty Board of Student Organizations suspended the publication because "the editors were duped into printing a supposed scandal."[This quote needs a citation] After another failed effort later that spring, The Daily Maroon died for a second and final time.

According to one Weekly editor, "its contents filled the space of about 16 to 24 pages and included articles about the old University, the faculty members, future plans, athletics, various student activities, and so-called verse."[This quote needs a citation] Although it was the largest paper available to students, and the only one that was financially successful, its editors believed that the university – which was quickly developing into a premier institution – was in need of a stable daily newspaper.

The Daily Maroon[edit]

Herbert Fleming (A.B. 1902) and Byron Moon, The Weekly's managing editor and owner/publisher respectively, proposed to University President William Rainey Harper a merger between The Weekly and The Daily Maroon. Harper accepted the proposal, with the condition that the paper would be financially autonomous from the University. Moon and Fleming, along with eight others, were appointed by the Board of Student Organizations to the Board of Control. Together, they persuaded the Alumni Association to front the necessary funds to start publishing, with the proposal that the paper should be owned by the entire student body. The ten members of the Board of Control assumed all other financial responsibility for the paper's first year, with profits or losses being divided equally.

The Weekly stopped printing the same day The Daily Maroon started, choosing to "close its career on October 1, 1902 to make room for its successors." During its first decade, The Daily Maroon focused on raising student enthusiasm for sports teams, and served as a bulletin board and calendar for social activities. Headlines consistently trumpeted the "Monsters of the Midway's" upcoming games, reviewed old ones, and printed new sports cheers and poems honoring the university.

In 1906, when the university won the national college football championship, The Daily Maroon joined the festivities by printing the story in maroon and black. That year, the paper began printing in the morning, instead of afternoon, so students and faculty could read it during breakfast.

The Maroon[edit]

During World War II, printing a daily newspaper became infeasible because of both staff writers leaving the university to fight and decreased financial support during hard times. The Daily Maroon was changed to a weekly format, called The Maroon, in 1942. The inaugural issue began with an editorial by Phil Rieff, the Editor-in-Chief:

"And so we go to Press. Smaller. Fewer. The Maroon is not what it used to be. But that is nothing to be sad about. We are sad because the Maroon is not what it should be. We had intended to publish twice a week. We had hopes of making the Maroon a significant organ of University opinion. We had even had gone so far as to contact certain faculty men and arrange for vital articles on contemporary issues. If we could serve the University, as a stimulus, a guide, an organ of critical thought during these critical times... That was our aim."

During these years, The Maroon was composed mainly of women, men too young to serve in the forces, and older men who were exempt from military service. The most notable change in the paper's appearance after the war was that it did not return to a daily, but printed Tuesdays and Fridays, which it continues to do. Its prewar structure, based on downtown Chicago newspapers, was not restored, and classes became the top priority for most staff members.[2]

The Maroon also revised its distribution during that time. When it first appeared in 1902, it cost two cents an issue to defray the costs of printing. The price gradually increased to 5 cents by the 1940s. On June 27, 1947 The Maroon was distributed free of charge "in order to assure the widest possible distribution." Increased ad revenue and financial support from the administration helped offset the losses from becoming non-subscription-based. In 1957, the paper also moved to Ida Noyes Hall, its current location, from Lexington Hall, which is no longer standing.

When David Broder was elected Editor-in-Chief in 1948, he put The Maroon on the path to recovery by publishing a daily bulletin on days the newspaper didn't print and increased circulation from 3,000 to 22,000.

The Maroon became more political over the following decades, prompting the Dean of Students to force the removal of Editor-in-Chief Alan Kimmel in 1951 and hold a university-wide election for the position. The newspaper continued to be highly political in the 1960s, and was even considered militant. During a campus sit-in after the firing of a radical sociology professor, Marlene Dixon, in 1968, The Maroon published daily and editors met with University President Edward Levi in his house while his office was being occupied by students.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, The Maroon focused printing a neutral newspaper with political sister publications. Grey City Journal, which is now the newspaper's quarterly magazine, espoused liberal politics, opinion, and criticism. After gaining significant criticism, editor John Scalzi decided to create a conservative brother publication, The Fourth Estate, to balance the paper ideologically. With these weekly sections, the paper grew to its largest size, but because the publications did not bring in their own ad revenue, The Maroon dropped them in the 1990s.

Recently, The Maroon won a Pacemaker Award in 2009, the Associated Collegiate Press’ highest honor, and has gone through several redesigns in print and online to improve the layout and create a more modern appeal.

Notable alumni[edit]

The University of Chicago has produced a number of notable journalists and writers, many of whom were Chicago Maroon staffers.


  1. ^ Mahoney, Kristin (1992). A History of The Chicago Maroon. The Chicago Maroon. p. 29.
  2. ^ McNeill, William (1991). Hutchins' University. A Memoir of the University of Chicago. University of Chicago Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-226-56170-4.
  3. ^ Erin McKean, ed. (May 2005). The New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 2051. ISBN 0-19-517077-6.

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