Mr. William Roscoe Thayer '81, who has contributed the following article, was while an undergraduate, both business manager and president of the CRIMSON, as well as a member of the Lampoon board. He was third marshal of his class and a Phi Beta Kappa man. Mr. Thayer has been editor of the Harvard Graduates' Magazine since it was founded, in 1892.
The college daily has become a necessity, not only for the three-quarters of the students who take a lively interest in the different sides of college life, but also for the professors and instructors, who make its columns the medium for their announcements. Its first function is to give the news. No consideration of advertising should encroach on the news. The chief effort of the editors should be to collect as much real news as possible and to present it in the most compact and orderly fashion. This seems a truism; but anyone who has read the CRIMSON for many years, will agree that, like other truisms, it needs to be constantly repeated. For there is too seldom issued a copy of any college paper which may serve as a model in the three requisites--completeness, accuracy and perspective. The second general function of such a paper as the CRIMSON is to express college opinion. This is done through its editorial articles. It is very important to know the views of the students on all events and policies which affect their academic life. The Governing Boards and the Faculty at Harvard can legislate to better advantage when they have before them college public opinion; but the question which they most constanty ask is whether the opinion expressed in the CRIMSON is really representative. Unless it be that it can naturally carry little weight. To make it that is the business of the board, which ought to regulate its method of securing editors with this in view. Since the personnel changes from year to year, there is always the danger that it may deteriorate, and always the hope that it may improve.
The CRIMSON has never taken itself unseriously, and although there are undergraduates who decry it, yet it is certainly a real college organ, and speaks for the majority. Even when its opinions seem hasty or extreme, it often echoes most exactly the state of mind of its constituents. The realization that it is a spokesman naturally increases the sense of responsibility of its board. One benefit has come from this for which it deserves much gratitude: the CRIMSON has almost entirely weeded out the Harvard correspondent who did not blush to send to his Boston or New York paper the most sensational "story" that he could invent, regardless of the injury it might do to the College. Now, thanks to the CRIMSON, the journalistic scavengers have to work from the outside or not at all; for they are refused access to the general news collected by the paper itself. To make its own utterances more and more authentic and reliable should be the CRIMSON'S constant endeavor. The paper should represent all the varied interests of the students, record University events, and speak for the students' Harvard. One incongruity that has crept in of late years might well be abolished--namely, the practice of having books and the other college publications reviewed by members of the Faculty instead of by the students themselves. If the paper is to be a mirror of undergraduate opinions, it must not make an exception of the department of literary criticism.
In conclusion, let me repeat that the CRIMSON has become indispensable and that, in spite of ups and downs, it has constantly improved. Its prosperity seems to be established. Its proper field of work has been marked out. It recognizes its responsibility as the student mouthpiece of the University. The time seems ripe for making it still better than it has ever been.