Maneater alumni reminisce about their beloved campus rag.
Groan-inducing headline puns and double-entendres, clipped out and mounted with tape, covered the third-floor walls of Read Hall. The vocabulary student-journalists used in conversation was a revelation to anyone raised in a proper, well-mannered home. This was not a university-run publication. In the spring semester of 1969, the Maneater student newspaper was 14 years old and already well seated in its reputation as an irreverent outsider — and a place where staff laughed hard and worked harder.
Betsey Barnette Bruce
Bruce, BJ ’70, the only female Maneater editor in the 1960s and only the second to that point in the paper’s history, was three weeks into her term when Barbara Papish, a journalism graduate student, was arrested for distributing obscene material on campus. Papish and others were handing out copies of an underground protest newspaper that included the words “M—F—” in a headline. The case made national news and ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Some might shrink from such a high-profile story. Not Bruce. “It was a convincing time for me that I really wanted to be a journalist,” she says. “We were right in the middle of everything.” Bruce, now with a local FOX affiliate, is the dean of St. Louis television reporters. She has covered the city for 45 years.
Magazine, A&S ’70, the assistant features editor with the writerly surname, worked at the ’Eater for three semesters before transferring home to Indiana University after her sophomore year. She remembers Bill Cox, the assistant editor, and his penchant for purloining official stationery. Once, after a road trip to the University of Oklahoma, the office received a carbon copy of a letter addressed to Mizzou’s dean of students from the Sooners’ dean of students complaining about the destruction the Maneater staff had caused to their accommodations in Norman, detailing the many places dried mayonnaise was found. Indignant at first, staffers quickly fingered Cox for the forgery. Magazine later worked with Cox at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, where she photo edited a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the Cambodian genocide. She is now deputy features editor for the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch.
Stevens, BA ’70, the news editor, was one of the few Maneater staff members who was not a journalism major. But the political science major found the people, atmosphere and front-row seat to university politics irresistible. “It was a fun group of people; that’s why I stayed involved,” Stevens says. “They took what they did very seriously but didn’t take themselves so seriously.” It was a work model Stevens, now retired, looked for during a successful legal career in Chicago. “Every organization that I liked working at, including law firms, were that way. They all had a sense of humor. They expect you to work very hard, but what was attractive about them was that they were fun.”