Columbia Daily Spectator
TypeStudent newspaper
SchoolBarnard College
Columbia University
Owner(s)Spectator Publishing Company, Inc.
Founder(s)Frederick William Holls
H.G. Paine
PublisherKatie Zhang
Editor-in-chiefIsabella Ramírez
Managing editorEsha Karam
Founded1877; 147 years ago (1877)
HeadquartersNew York City
Free online

The Columbia Daily Spectator (known colloquially as Spec) is the student newspaper of Columbia University. Founded in 1877, it is the second oldest continuously operating college news daily in the nation after The Harvard Crimson, and has been legally independent from the university since 1962. It is published at 120th Street and Claremont Avenue in New York City. During the academic term, it is published online Sunday through Thursday and printed twice monthly. In addition to serving as a campus newspaper, the Spectator also reports the latest news of the surrounding Morningside Heights community. The paper is delivered to over 150 locations throughout the Morningside Heights neighborhood.


First issue of the Columbia Spectator, published on July 1, 1877

The Columbia Spectator was founded in 1877 by Frederick William Holls and H.G. Paine.[2]: 179  Also serving on the paper's first editorial board was William Barclay Parsons. Several attempts at student journalism were made before the Spectator. The first student publication formed at Columbia was the short lived Philolexian Observer, founded in 1813.[2]: 176  The Cap and Gown was founded in 1867 as both a student newspaper and literary publication. It was renamed to the Acta Columbiana in 1873, and was absorbed by the Spectator in 1885, which also took its motto, A Studentibus Studentibusque.[2]: 178 

The Spectator was first published as a fortnightly. In 1898 it became a weekly, and a year later began to be published semi-weekly, before finally becoming a daily paper in 1902.[2]: 179–180 

In April 2014, Spectator announced it would become the first Ivy League newspaper to cut its daily print for a weekly distribution to focus on digital content and increase revenue.[3] The plan was approved shortly thereafter by the Board of Trustees, passing 7 to 4. John R. MacArthur, one of the members of the board, resigned in protest of the decision, but the paper did see the expected revenue increase.[4]


Spectator is published by Spectator Publishing Company Inc, an independent 501(c)(3) corporation.[5] Spectator Publishing Company was formed in 1962 and has been independent of Columbia University since then.[6] The president of the Spectator Publishing Company also serves as the editor in chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Spectator's writing departments, each headed by one or two editors, include university news, city news, sports, arts and culture, opinion, and lifestyle. The other non-writing departments, also headed by their own respective editors, include photography, illustrations, graphics, audio, video, and copy. The Business & Innovations departments, which oversee the newspaper's advertising, finances, software development, and alumni relations, are headed by the publisher. Spectator also runs The Eye which is a magazine focused on publishing long-form feature articles and essays.

The paper is currently run by the 147th managing board. First-time writers at Columbia begin their time at the paper with a 3 to 4 month trainee semester, during which they learn the basics of writing an article and publish their first articles. Each November and December, students run for positions at the paper, a process that takes nearly a month. They begin by shadowing, or sitting with the current editors or associate editors and learning the editing process. Next they write proposals for their desired position. The students then take editing tests created by their department editor that test them on fundamentals. Finally, they complete the Turkeyshoots process with an interview. The results of the process, including the new managing board, are announced in mid-December, the weekend before finals.

Recent spinoffs

In 2005, Spec started printing La Página, a weekly flyer in Spanish with translations of some of the week's English content most relevant to neighborhood readers. It folded within the year.

The next year, in February 2006, the paper launched a series of blogs, SpecBlogs. It was the third Ivy League paper to do this, after The Harvard Crimson's Sports Blog (December 2005) and The Daily Pennsylvanian's TheBuzz (January 2006).[7]

In September 2006, Spectator staff launched The Eye, a weekly magazine featuring investigative pieces and commentary on Columbia and New York City. The name of The Eye relates both to the fact that one "spectates" with it and urban theorist Jane Jacobs' notion that "eyes on the street" help keep neighborhoods safe.

In March 2010, Spec launched a new blog, Spectrum, which is updated several times a day with breaking news, columns, and features.

In January 2018, Spec launched a branded content studio, Spectator Brand Studios. It was the second Ivy League paper to do this, after the Harvard Crimson.


Spectator has been criticized publicly by staff members over the years for obscuring its election procedures. On October 16, 2009, Ryan Bubinski, then the online editor of Spec, shut down the website in protest of a constitutional violation.[8] The website was restored on the 18th, and Bubinski left the staff of the newspaper.[9] The lack of a constitution brought renewed protests in 2018 when concerns over potential prior misconduct of a staffer surfaced during the Turkeyshoots process. The Corporate Board of Spectator followed an internal policy to investigate the claims, which was not made public to staffers. Following the Turkeyshoots season, the majority of the newspaper's Sports section resigned in protest.[10]

In 2018 and 2019, work by journalists at the paper played an important role in uncovering the plagiarism scandal around Charles K. Armstrong, a professor of history at Columbia University.[11] It also, in 2019, found that a number of professors accused or found guilty of sexual misconduct remained on campus, breaking news that English professor Michael Golston had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a student.[12]

Recent leadership

Year Board Editor in Chief Publisher Managing Editor
2024 148th Isabella Ramírez Katie Zhang Esha Karam
2023 147th Irie Sentner Tyler Shern Andrew Park
2022 146th Clara Ence Morse Vilanna Wang Dia Gill
2021 145th Sarah Braka Tamarah Wallace Elizabeth Karpen
2020 144th Karen Xia Isabel Jauregui Shubham Saharan
2019 143rd Katherine Gerberich Nima Mozhgani Rahil Kamath
2018 142nd Jessica Spitz Michael Tai Aaron Holmes
2017 141st Catie Edmondson Anurak Saelaow J. Clara Chan
2016 140th Caroline Chiu Rachit Mohan Ben Libman
2015 139th Michael Ouimette Daniel Friedman Samantha Cooney
2014 138th Abby Abrams Michael Ouimette Steven Lau
2013 137th Sammy Roth Alex Smyk Finn Vigeland
2012 136th Sarah Darville Alex Smyk Maggie Alden
2011 135th Samuel Roth Aditya Mukerjee Michele Cleary
2010 134th Ben Cotton Akhil Mehta Thomas Rhiel
2009 133rd Melissa Repko Julia Feldberg Daria Knight-Winslow
2008 132nd Tom Faure Manal Alam Amanda Sebba
2007 131st John Davisson John Mascari Amanda Erickson
2006 130th Steve Moncada Jacob Olson & John Mascari Tim Shenk, succ. by Nick Klagge
2005 129th Megan Greenwell Chase Behringer Theo Orsher & Liz Fink
2004 128th Nick Summers Lauren Appelbaum, succ. by Tanner Zucker James Romoser
2003 127th Telis Demos Amit Melwani Juliana Castedo
2002 126th Alice Boone Rob Bruce Isolde Raftery
2001 125th Michael Mirer Jeff Posnick Nick Schifrin
2000 124th Dan Laidman Jonathan Gordin Miriam Haskell
1999 123rd Nathan Hale Matthew Greer Demetra Kasimis
1998 122nd Eli Sanders David S. Karp Leila Nesson
1997 121st Kim Van Duzer Julie Yufe Sandra P. Angulo
1996 120th Hans Chen Graham Goodkin Lauren Goodman
1995 119th Peter G. Freeman Fredrik Stanton Henry Tam, Jr.
1994 118th Ruth Halikman Chris Conway Michael Stanton
1993 117th Elizabeth Berke Katherine Huibonhoa Leyla Kokmen
1992 116th Kristina Nye Ram Rao Jessica Shaw
1991 115th Kirsten Danis Andrew Rothschild Catherine Thorpe
1990 114th Julie Zuckerman Anna Compaglia Robert Hardt, Jr.
1989 113th Josh Gillette Erika Henik Jonathan Earle
1988 112th Tracy Connor Roger Rubin Asha Badranith
1987 111th Sara Just Alison Craiglow John Oswald
1986 110th Jacqueline Shea Murphy Toshihiko Saito Elizabeth Schwartz
1985 109th Anne Kornhauser Thomas Fitzsimmons William Teichner
1984 108th Aaron J. Freiwald Thomas Fitzsimmons Robert Zeiger
1983 107th Steven Waldman Peter Baltay Kate Schaefer
1982 106th John Zimmerman[13] Robert Hughes Todd Bressi
1981 105th Stuart Karle Beverly Weintraub ("Business Manager") Pete Brown
1980 104th Jon Elsen Bonnie Spiro ("Business Manager") Chris Wellisz
1979 103rd Jim Schachter Carol Futernick ("Business Manager") David Rosenberg
1978 102nd Joe Ferullo Sheldon Nussbaum ("Business Manager") Mitch Rollnick
1977 101st Richard Hart David Margules ("Publisher"), Susan Wagner ("Business Manager") (none)
1976 100th Gregg Bloche, succ. by Jonathan Steinberg Jon Lukomnik ("Publisher"), Michelle Seltzer ("Business Manager") Jonathan Steinberg, succ. by David Margules
1975 99th David Raab Brian Dowd ("Business Manager") Ted Green
1974 98th Eric Rieder Jay Lisnow ("Business Manager") David Smith
1973 97th Gail Robinson Dan Dolgin ("Business Manager") Richard Briffault
1972 96th John Brecher L. Stanton Towne, succ. by Geoffrey Colvin ("Business Manager") Maureen McGuirl
1971 95th Jon Groner Jonathan Kandel ("Business Manager") Lillian Ehrlich
1970 94th Martin Flumenbaum Mitchell Gerber, succ. by Robert J. Hunt ("Business Manager") Juris Kaža
1969 93rd Paul Starr Lawrence D. Levin ("Business Manager") Robert Hardman
1968 92nd Robert Friedman Nicholas Garaufis ("Business Manager") Charles L. Skoro
1967 91st Christopher Friedrichs Leon Wyszewianski ("Business Manager") David Heim
1966 90th Alan S. Lake Stuart A. Schlang ("Business Manager") Mark Minton
1965 89th Michael Drosnin Jay S. Goldsamt ("Business Manager") Daniel Epstein
1964 88th Donald H. Shapiro L. Michael Krieger ("Business Manager") Stanford N. Sesser
1963 87th Gary A. Schonwald Burt H. Liebman ("Business Manager") Norman A. Olch
1962 86th Dov M. Grunschlag Jon M. Eckel ("Business Manager") Doron Gopstein
1961 85th Allen Young Paul A. Gitman ("Business Manager") Eric Levine
1960 84th Martin B. Margulies Andrew S. Levine ("Business Manager") John D. Hack succ. by Arnold Abrams
1959 83rd William Robert Bishin Carl A. Steinbaum ("Business Manager") Nathan Gross
1958 82nd Robert M. Burd Barry C. Cooper ("Business Manager") Allan D. Gochman
1957 81st Bernard Nussbaum Kenneth J. Stern ("Business Manager") Howard J. Orlin
1956 80th H. Douglas Eldridge George Leibowitz ("Business Manager") Bruce R. Buckley
1955 79th Jonas Schultz Grover H. Wald ("Business Manager") Robert R. Siroty
1954 78th Lee Townsend Sheldon M. Wolf ("Business Manager") Gerald M. Pomper
1953 77th Charles E. Selinske Lester Friedman ("Business Manager") Judah L. Berger
1952 76th Jerry G. Landauer H. Wallace Kava ("Business Manager") Donald L. Hymes & Rolon W. Reed
1951 75th Max Frankel Frank Walwer ("Business Manager") Lawrence K. Grossman & Charles N. Jacobs
1950 74th David Wise James A. Williams ("Business Manager") Peter H. Schiff
1949 73rd Robert C. Frederiksen Edward Wolfe ("Business Manager") Gabriel Favoino (spring semester only; vacant in fall)
1948 72nd Robert Neil Butler Vincent A. Carrozza ("Business Manager") Gene R. Haves
1947 71st David L. Schraffenberger Fred De Vries ("Business Manager") (none)
1946 70th Edward B. Gold succ. by Alan S. Kuller David H. Horowitz succ. by Daniel Schimmel ("Business Manager") Gideon H. Oppenheimer succ. by George T. Vogel
1945 69th Arthur Lazarus succ. by Stanley Smith Michael Lichtenstein succ. by Stuart Schwartz ("Business Manager") (none) (spring semester), Fred M. Kleeberg (fall semester)
1944 68th Joseph Barata succ. by John Crossett Norman Levy ("Business Manager") Matthew T. Kenny succ. by Irwin Oder
1943 67th Elliott M. Sanger, Jr. succ. by Paul J. Sherman succ. by Walter D. Scott William Gross succ. by Andrew Rohman ("Business Manager") Paul J. Sherman succ. by Walter D. Scott succ. by Matthew T. Kenny

Notable Spec alumni

See also


  1. ^ Page 20[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d Matthews, Brander; John Pine; Harry Peck; Munroe Smith (1904). A History of Columbia University: 1754–1904. London, England: Macmillan Company.
  3. ^ "Columbia student paper plans to drop daily print edition for a weekly distribution". Politico Media. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Harper's Publisher Rick MacArthur Quits Columbia Spectator Board Because the Internet". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Spectator Publishing Company Inc overview from". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax; 2012 IRS Form 990 of Spectator Publishing Co Inc" (PDF). Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  7. ^ "The Buzz". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Spectator website takedown 2009". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Editor's Note of 2009 Website Shutdown". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  10. ^ "The Blue and White - Columbia Daily Spectator Staff Gutted by Resignations". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  11. ^ "History professor Charles Armstrong found guilty of plagiarism, to retire in 2020". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  12. ^ "Up against the invincible: A professor was convicted of sexual misconduct. Why is he still on campus?". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  13. ^ "Take Five with Jonathan Zimmerman '83". Columbia College Today. 17 January 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (2012-02-09). "Damien Bona Dies at 56; Creator of Guide for Oscar Buffs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  15. ^ "Adam B. Kushner". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-02-16.