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About The Oracle

If the originally proposed name for The Oracle had been chosen, students today would be reading the USF Bull Sheet. However, the name "The Oracle" was eventually settled on by the first staff for its meaning.

Arthur Sanderson, the first director of Student Publications and founder of The Oracle, formed the paper so the University of South Florida community could have an on-campus news outlet.

"I came down to USF to create an outlet that both students could create and enjoy," Sanderson said. The Tampa Times published weekly campus news for USF until Sanderson submitted a proposal to USF's first President John S. Allen to create a student-run newspaper.

"It was a lot of work getting it off the ground," Sanderson said. "But I loved every minute because this paper was like my baby."

The staff's work paid off when the paper earned pair of Pacemaker awards the first year.

Tony Zappone, The Oracle's first photographer, recalled the excitement of winning one of the top honors in college journalism. "It was incredible to us," Zappone said. "Here we were this brand new paper beating out all these other college newspapers that had been around years and years."

Zappone, who now runs a local advertising and public relations agency, said working for The Oracle was one of the best experiences of this college career.

"Back then, working for The Oracle was a prestigious thing on campus," Zappone said. "We didn't do it for money or even clips. We did it because we loved journalism."

In fact, Sanderson said, the editor's pay was minimum wage -- about 90 cents an hour -- 20 hours a week, even though they actually worked about 30 to 40 hours a week.Zappone said his job gave him many interesting photo opportunities.

Zappone was friends with comedian Gallagher while he attended USF. "Gallagher was always pulling crazy pranks on campus to get back at the administration," Zappone said. "He would tip me off so I could be there with my camera. For example, one time he let a bunch of pigs loose in the (Phyllis P. Marshall Center). It made for a great photo."

However, The Oracle did experience its share of controversies and hard times. In 1970, the staff walked out after a political cartoon was pulled by adviser Leo Stalnaker. Sanderson and Walt Griscti, also a former adviser, had to run the paper until the staff came back a week later. Looking back, Sanderson said he regretted pulling the cartoon. "Of course I supported Stalnaker, but I certainly would do things differently if it had come up again."

According to founding staff members, despite some of the unusual items and times the paper encountered, The Oracle always intended to be an outlet of information.

The newspaper's first editorial, penned by founding Editor in Chief Harry Haigley, established The Oracle's guiding principles.

"The Oracle is a college newspaper, with items for interest for all segments of our diversified for all segments of our diversified community," Haigley wrote. "We shall not hesitate to point out what we feel is wrong and right with the university system, our social norms or our goals of life."

Before The Oracle's first issue came out on Sept. 6, 1966, USF's charter class of 1,991 students had to read a one-page weekly edition of The Tampa Times called the "Campus Edition" to get campus news.

Now The Oracle publishes five days a week in the fall and spring with an average circulation of 12,000 issues. Along the way, the paper has earned numerous awards for excellence in journalism. It was voted by the Society of Professional Journalists as the Best College Daily in the Nation in 1990 and is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame. It has collected numerous regional awards during the years and has earned a national reputation for excellence.

The Oracle has served as a training ground for journalists and others devoted to the idea of a free press.


Sept. 26, 1960 - The charter class of about 1,500 students started its first day of classes. The Tampa Times covered university news in a weekly page called the "Campus Edition."

Sept. 6, 1966 - First issue. Broadsheet published each Wednesday. Dr. Arthur M. Anderson publisher, Steve Yates general manager, Harry Haigley editor.

Quarter I 1970 - Oracle publishes Tuesday and Friday. Leo Stalnaker, Jr. becomes general manager; Col. Walter E. Griscti becomes business manager.

Nov. 10, 1970 - Editor Jane Daugherty and other staff members walk out after Sanderson and Stalnaker do not let them publish an editorial cartoon.

Quarter III 1972 - Oracle redesigns, becoming tabloid size and is published Tuesday through Friday.

Nov. 27, 1973 - USF President Cecil Mackey announces plan to move Oracle off-campus. Student Publications Advisory Board votes against his plan.

Nov. 28, 1973 - First Omnibus, feature magazine supplement to Oracle published. In 1980. Omnibus evolved into separate literary magazine. Patricia Carroll Lee was first editor.

1977 - Student Publications Advisory board disbanded.

Spring 1984 - Insight magazine supplement published each month. Heidi Kelchner is first editor. Insight is terminated Summer 1988.