Columbia Daily Spectator

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Columbia Daily Spectator".

The Columbia Daily Spectator is the daily newspaper of the university community and Morningside Heights. It is written by undergraduate students, who operate out of the Spectator office at 112th Street and Broadway. The paper is simply referred to as "the Spec." The paper is printed in broadsheet format every weekday during the academic term. It is delivered to over 150 locations throughout Morningside Heights and is read by over 10,000 people.


Spec front page during the 1968 protests

Spec was founded in 1877 and is the second-oldest continually operating college news daily in the nation, after The Harvard Crimson. It has been financially independent of the university since 1962. However, between 1964 and 1970, it received subsidies from the university of up to $20,000.[1]

The 1972 Bailout

On December 6, 1972, The Spec announced that it would fold unless it received financial assistance. The Spec, despite being in massive massive debt at the time, had spent $25,000 on a new typesetting machine. Spec wanted Columbia to give them a $25,000 loan, but Columbia said no, because the Spec still owed them $16,000 for a telephone bill.[2]. On December 17, the Spec and Columbia kissed and made up, the Spec got their $25,000 loan, Columbia got free printing services for five years, and the Spec got more time to squeeze $16,000 from their alumni.[3]

Turn to broadsheet

Previously printed in tabloid format, in September 2004 the Spec started printing in broadsheet form. The editors at the time somehow thought they deserved to "move up" in the newspaper world, taking their place next to slightly more distinguished papers like the New York Times. This move was distinctly against the grain; a large and increasing number of newspapers around the world are moving or have already moved to tabloid format, which is more popular especially with readers in cities.

Some students at Columbia agree that broadsheet newspapers are inconvenient and would like to see Spec return to tabloid format. Tabloid sized papers are conveniently hidden in notebooks if you're inclined to read in class. Other students believe that broadsheet format adds a dab of prestige to the Spec brand and allows it to stand up to its Ivy League peers.

The Web

The Spectator is also available on the web. The staff diligently change the organization of the website no less than annually, ensuring that hyperlinks to the site are perpetually broken.

Recent spinoffs

La Página

In 2005, the Spec started printing La Página, a weekly flyer in Spanish with translations of some of the week's English content most relevant to neighborhood readers.


In February 2006, the paper launched a series of blogs, aptly named SpecBlogs. These blogs soon became defunct. Another blogging effort, launched in October 2006 to cover the 2006 midterm elections, proved more successful. In December of 2007, they launched yet another blog, this time specific to the Opinion page, called "The Steps". Those blogs are now also defunct. However, recently has been revived, and the current repertoire of SpecBlogs includes Commentariat (the new opinion blog), Spectacle (for arts and entertainment), and The Editors Notes.

Spec's blogs have frequently been mocked by The Bwog as the "Splogs".

A recurring blog on Spec's website during housing lottery season, since 2007, has been the housing blog The Shaft.

The Eye

In September 2006, Spectator staff launched The Eye, a weekly magazine featuring investigative pieces and commentary on Columbia and NYC. The goal of starting The Eye was to provide a platform much of the feature writing that Speccies did for The Blue and White in addition to topics that had no previous coverage. The name of The Eye relates both to the fact that one "spectates" with it and urban theorist Jane Jacobs' notion that "eyes on the street" help keep neighborhoods safe.


The Spec is currently run by the 133rd managing board.

Writing and non-writing departments are each headed by an editor, and are overseen by the editor-in-chief. Writing departments include campus news, city news, sports, arts and entertainment, and opinion. Non-writing departments include photography, new media, production, copy, and business. The business department is headed by the publisher, and it has several sub-departments, each headed by a director.

First-time writers at Columbia begin their time at the paper with a 1- to 2-month trial period, during which they learn the basics of writing an article and publish their first articles. When their department editor sees fit, they become staff writers. Each November and December, students run for positions at the paper, a grueling process that takes nearly a month. They begin by "shadowing," or sitting with the current editors or associate editors and learning the editing process. Next they write proposals for their desired position. The students then take an editing test made up by their department editor that tests them on the fundamentals of editing. Finally, they go through the "Turkey Shoot," an interview in which the current managing board grills the applicant on why he feels he would be a good fit for the position. The results of the application process, including the new managing board are announced in mid-December, the weekend before finals.

Current Management

  • Editor in Chief: Melissa Repko
  • Publisher: Julia Feldberg
  • Managing Editor: Elizabeth Simins
  • Eye EIC: Thomas Rhiel
  • Eye Managing Editor Features: Melanie Jones
  • Eye Managing Editor A&E: Hillary Busis
  • Opinion: Sheri Pan
  • Campus News: Joy Resmovits
  • City News: Betsy Morais
  • Sports: Jacob Levenfeld and Bart Lopez
  • Arts & Entertainment: Julia Halperin
  • Copy Editor: Dino Grandoni
  • Photo Editor: Angela Radulescu
  • Production Editors: Benjamin Cotton and Yipeng Huang
  • Finance: Akhil Mehta
  • Sales: Gizem Orbey
  • Alumni: Christina Patterson
  • Online Editor: Ryan Bubinski

See also

External links


  1. "Columbia U. Agrees to a Loan In Move to Save The Spectator" New York Times (1857-Current file); Dec 17, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) pg. 2
  2. "Columbia Spectator Says It Expects to Fold Next Week" New York Times (1857-Current file); Dec 7, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) pg. 55
  3. "Columbia U. Agrees to a Loan In Move to Save The Spectator" New York Times (1857-Current file); Dec 17, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) pg. 2