Texas Tech Campus newspaper
Just two years after Lubbock was selected as its home, the newly established Texas Technological College opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1925, with a record-setting 770 students and “a few ‘stragglers’ still coming in, ” according to the first issue of the student newspaper, The Toreador, dated Oct. 3.
Many of that edition’s articles focused on enrollment, specifically the disproportionate number of men to women on campus, and the opening ceremonies of the new college. But the newspaper’s top story was full coverage of the Matadors’ first football game – a 0-0 tie against McMurry College.
“This initial issue of The Toreador is the first sheet off the press and on the streets of Lubbock carrying a story of the Tech-McMurry game played this afternoon, ” wrote editor Harry Montgomery. “Within two hours after the last whistle of the game sounded, football fans were reliving the battle from a complete play by play report appearing on this page. We expect to serve the students more efficiently each week by giving them the news of their school before it has become stale.”
Ninety years and two name changes later, the Toreador still records the history of Texas Tech University as it happens.
As Montgomery explained in the first issue of The Toreador, “It is well known, of course, that in the favorite sport of Spain and Old Mexico the ‘toreador’ is an assistant to the ‘matador’ or bull fighter – an aggravator you might say. So when the name Matador was suggested in keeping with the Spanish architecture and design of the college buildings, nothing seemed more appropriate as a name for the student publication than The Toreador.”
Robert Montemayor, editor from 1974 to 1975 and one of four Pulitzer Prize winners produced by the Texas Tech newspaper, expressed the same sentiment in 1987, writing: “There was a slogan that I borrowed and slightly altered, from another university, that I used on the masthead while I was editor: ‘It is this newspaper’s duty to raise constructive hell.’ It was my personal signature and attitude then and remains my attitude today.”
Among the editors most famous for stirring up controversy was Marshall Formby, who led The Toreador from 1931 to 1932. He established the strong editorial policy that would distinguish the paper during its early years, railing against boarding houses that required students to work in the house to pay for their meals and defending Texas Tech and its professors from a Lubbock preacher who accused the college of teaching atheism.
Ernest V. Joiner, editor from 1939 to 1940, was the only Toreador editor to be fired and reinstated twice because of his editorial stances. Hostile to any type of censorship, Joiner vigorously attacked many adverse school conditions, irritating a number of those in authority. A few months after his first reinstatement, he conducted a campaign in The Toreador to find out who was the “biggest horse’s (neck).” After publishing the name of the winner – one of the deans – Joiner was re-fired in the resulting furor.
Charles Richards, editor from 1962 to 1963, remembers the most interesting story of his tenure happened by accident.
“My roommate, Max Jennings, and I were in the basement of the Student Union Building one Friday afternoon our senior year, playing bumper pool when we should have been busy getting the next edition of the Toreador out, ” he said. “The student newspaper’s adviser, Phil Orman, called on the telephone and was chewing us out, and we ‘explained’ that we were actually doing surveillance on heavy gambling on pool games by students.
“Not only did he buy our story, he dispatched Toreador head photographer Cal Wayne Moore over to the SUB, where he covertly took pictures under a jacket he had over his arms. Phil also alerted campus security, which showed up and raided the games. The ‘accidental’ story, a double byline by Max and me, covered the top half of the Toreador the next day, was an overnight sensation and won second place in the Southwestern Journalism Congress’ annual writing contest for student newspaper in Texas and surrounding states.”
JFK Assassination 1963
Over the decades, the paper increased in frequency from its weekly beginnings to semi-weekly in 1935 and then to three times a week in 1957. The first plans for a daily paper were announced in 1962, although the expansion came four years later. The Toreador’s name was changed to The University Daily on Sept. 20, 1966, as part of Texas Technological College’s push to become a university. The college would follow suit, becoming Texas Tech University on Sept. 1, 1969.
Richards, for one, didn’t like the new name.
“I felt a sadness, ” he said. “I liked the Spanish architecture around the campus and carrying the theme over to other things – the Matador Song; the Picadors, as freshman athletics teams were called back then; and The Toreador, along with other closely linked traditions such as the Masked Rider and the Saddle Tramps.”
The University Daily
Bill Dean, director of student publications from 1967 to 1978, remembers the University Daily stirred up the Lubbock community with a disturbing photograph taken during construction of the former Business Administration building in the late 1960s, which now houses the College of Media & Communication.
“Apparently the high school kids in Lubbock came out on campus and played around in the elevator shaft – kind of a crazy, dangerous thing, ” he said. “A 15-year-old fell to his death one Sunday afternoon and the University Daily photographer – I don’t know how he found out about it –got over there before the police and took a picture of it. So I got a call, ‘come back to campus, we’re going to have a debate: Do we run that picture or not?’ It wasn’t a close-up, but it was definitely a body. There were arguments on both sides and I just said, ‘If we run it, my phone’s going to ring off the wall in the morning and y’all will be home in bed.’
“They decided to run it and the reasoning was sound, I couldn’t argue with it, ” he said. “They said, ‘if the other kids who are doing this see this, maybe it will deter them from doing it, ’ which I thought was a pretty good argument. Of course, the phone did ring off the wall. People thought it was very insensitive for us to do it, but there was a perception that, as director of student publications, I could keep that picture out of the paper and that’s not true. They sought my advice, but I didn’t try to censor what they were doing.”
Andrea Watson, who started as a reporter in 1996 and returned as an adviser in 2002, said student journalists who work for the newspaper learn valuable lessons from both everyday and extraordinary situations.