Only at Yale would the perpetually frenetic, coffee-fueled life of a daily newspaper be found through the arched Gothic doorway of the Briton Hadden Memorial Building, named for Henry Luce’s classmate and collaborator at Hotchkiss and Yale. The elegant exterior nonetheless led to a hodgepodge of rundown rooms where the News was planned and assembled every night, homework be damned. Freshmen entered as “heelers,” intimidated by the giants (two years older) who assigned them stories and edited them more carefully than many assignments for class. Even in retrospect they WERE giants, as shown by their later careers – Strobe Talbott at Time, the State Department, and Brookings; Steve Weisman at the New York Times; Dan Yergin, author of “The Prize”; Jacques Leslie at the Los Angeles Times; Phil Hersh at all three Chicago papers; Don MacGillis at the Boston Globe… They were my mentors more than any professor.
I remember particularly the board room of the News, which was a dusty relic by the time our Maoist collective ascended to power and spurned titles and authority. But the walls were still hung with pictures of previous Boards, and the luminaries were many. It was hard to imagine how our scruffy team would reach those heights, but like the memorials to the dead inscribed in the rotunda of Commons, they called us to undertake heroic deeds.
– Reid Detchon