BOB GARFIELD: We're back with On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Last weekend, the high school newspaper The Record celebrated its centennial year. Published by students of the prestigious Horace Mann School in New York City, The Record has been named one of the best high school newspapers by the American Scholastic Press Association. Some of the journalistic luminaries who began their careers at the record celebrated at a dinner at the school's Bronx campus. Jon Kalish reports. [DINNER AMBIENCE]
JON KALISH: The Horace Mann Record has produced three Pulitzer Prize winners, enough newspaper journalists to practically fill a city room, and an impressive list of alumni who didn't go into journalism. Past editors include a couple of congressmen, a former defense secretary, the current attorney general of New York State, Jack Kerouac, New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, and George Avakian, the legendary jazz producer. The Record's current faculty advisor, Claude Catapano, has read through all 100 years of the student newspaper.
CLAUDE CATAPANO: Three or four years before Brown v. Board of Education, we had an editorial calling for integration. At the height of the McCarthy era, Bob Caro publishes a paper in Russian with Eleanor Roosevelt's encouragement that basically said, you know, we have to do something.
JON KALISH: Robert Caro was editor of The Record in 1953.
ROBERT CARO: It was on The Record that I first found out how angry people could get at you. [LAUGHTER]
JON KALISH: In The Record's time-honored tradition, Caro clashed with the administration of the prestigious private school. Caro agitated for a new honor system at Horace Mann modeled after one at Princeton University in which students were left alone in classrooms during tests.
ROBERT CARO: I started writing editorials for it, and finally there was a vote, and the students approved it. So I wrote an editorial called Green Light Means Go and arranged to have The Record distributed the morning of that assembly. Then I gave a talk on it at the assembly, and I can still remember to this day, as I walked up the aisle after giving the talk, how the old faculty members were standing there glaring at me.
JON KALISH: Caro won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his biography of Robert Moses. Horace Mann's other Pulitzer winners are Richard Kluger of the Class of '52 and Anthony Lewis of the Class of '44. On more than one occasion school administrators tried to stop The Record from publishing stories about drug use on campus. That brought loud complaints from alumni and a front page story decrying censorship.
MARK PENN: I did a poll on what percentage of the kids smoked marijuana and published it.
JON KALISH: Pollster Mark Penn who has worked for President Clinton conducted his first polls in the Horace Mann Record when he was a student in the early 1970s.
MARK PENN: It revealed that 37% of Horace Manners had tried marijuana. And then my faculty advisor got very upset that I was going to ruin admissions to the school with the poll. I almost got fired for that poll.
JON KALISH: Amy Schwartz, now a Washington Post editorial writer, joined The Record as a 9th grader, one year after Horace Mann went coed.
AMY SCHWARTZ: It was one the pleasures of the big boys on The Record staff -- the 11th and 12th graders -- whom I naturally held in total awe -- to tease me and say that when I grew up I would probably be the first female editor of The Record.
JON KALISH: Schwartz did become The Record's first woman editor in 1979. By the time her appointment came she says it was no big deal on campus. Today the school has a publication called Harriet described as a radical feminist journal for the "young and disgruntled." Shari Rudofski, the editor of The Record in 1984, says she loved meeting deadlines and telling people what was going on. Today Rudofski freelances for the Miami Herald and the Boston Globe.
SHARI RUDOFSKI: In a way, some of the best examples of what community journalism can be are places like Horace Mann where you have a small community of people who care a lot about what goes on, and I think that having started in this environment, I was really attuned to the place a newspaper has in a community.
JON KALISH: In the late 1980s, editors of The Record along with student activists pushed the school to pull its investments in South Africa. David Leonhardt was a reporter on The Record back then. He's now a reporter with the New York Times.
DAVID LEONHARDT: I played a relatively minor role in it, but it was without question a defining experience to realize that words you write can have an impact and can affect the world around you.
JON KALISH: When asked why this century-old student newspaper turned out so many top journalists, a number of former editors said The Record gave them a sense of freedom and responsibility. For On the Media, I'm Jon Kalish in New York. [MUSIC]