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The Cavalier Daily
October 7, 2005 front page
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)The Cavalier Daily, Inc.
Editor-in-chiefNik Popli
FoundedJanuary 15, 1890
HeadquartersCharlottesville, Virginia

The Cavalier Daily is an independent, student-run daily news organization at the University of Virginia. Founded in 1890, under the name College Topics, The Cavalier Daily is Virginia's oldest collegiate daily and the oldest daily newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Since the summer of 1996, The Cavalier Daily has been the only daily newspaper at the University, with a print circulation of 7,500 distributed on Grounds and in the surrounding Charlottesville area. The Cavalier Daily also publishes content online and on social media daily with expanded and enhanced content.

The Cavalier Daily staffers have gone on to write professionally and edit for some of journalism's most prestigious publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Baltimore Sun, Politico, Yahoo!, Associated Press, NBC News and The Washington Post.[1]


Founding and Name Change

The Cavalier Daily printed its first issue under the name College Topics on January 15, 1890. In 1924, the newspaper increased its publication schedule from twice a week to six times a week, making the paper a daily. However, the following year, the paper's off-campus printer suffered a catastrophic fire, and the newspaper alternated between two and three publication days a week until 1940.

During World War II College Topics struggled for survival as the University of Virginia student population was greatly reduced due to the war effort. By 1943, the paper had become a four-page weekly that featured only bulletins. After the war, the paper increased its circulation and content, and was renamed The Cavalier Daily on May 4, 1948.

Changes at The University

The admission of women and African-American students to the University of Virginia beginning in the early 1970s changed the face of the paper as well as the university community. The increased diversity of the community challenged what is often characterized as the preexisting "good old boy" attitude at both the school and The Cavalier Daily, resulting in a staff that became more motivated and ambitious. The first woman member of the Managing Board, Mary Love, was elected business manager in 1973, and the first woman editor-in-chief, Marjorie Leedy, followed in 1976. During this time, Managing Board races became highly competitive, and the paper adopted more professional journalistic standards. In 1973, a staff split resulted in several unsuccessful candidates for the Managing Board leaving to form The Declaration, a weekly tabloid-format publication that continues to publish. In 1976, The Cavalier Daily became the first college publication to receive a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Media Board Crisis

The University's Media Board, a body composed of students and supervised by the University's Board of Visitors, was founded in 1976 to regulate on-Grounds media, but The Cavalier Daily ignored it as a matter of practice. In April 1979, the confrontation came to a head when University President Frank Hereford presented the paper with the ultimatum of accepting the Media Board and the Board of Visitors' authority or being forced to leave its offices. The newspaper refused to acknowledge administrative supervision, and The Cavalier Daily was evicted from its offices on April 4, 1979, continuing to publish from rented space in the offices of Charlottesville's Daily Progress.

On April 5, a student protest of the eviction, including a 1,500-student demonstration in front of Hereford's office on the Lawn and condemnation from Student Council, encouraged both sides to end the impasse, and the newspaper agreed to a compromise on April 6. The Cavalier Daily's movement toward complete independence emerged from the Media Board crisis.

The fallout of the Media Board crisis led to the 1983 formation of the Cavalier Daily Alumni Association, with the stated purpose to support the newspaper and aid it in times of need.


In 1979, the University saw the creation of another student-run newspaper, the University Journal, which originally formed in opposition to what many saw as the left-wing editorial stances of The Cavalier Daily. An intense rivalry between the two newspapers for news and advertising grew as the University Journal published three times weekly in the 1980s and then four times weekly beginning in 1991. Amid significant debt, the University Journal cut back production starting in 1996 and ceased to exist by 1998. Since that time, The Cavalier Daily has been one of two papers at the University of Virginia, alongside The Declaration, a bi-weekly tabloid-format newsmagazine.

Web Edition

In 1995, The Cavalier Daily Online Edition was launched, and in 1998, The Cavalier Daily began to pay rent for its offices in Newcomb Hall, the last step in the path toward complete independence from the University that began in earlier decades. The Digitization Project, completed in 2001, made all aspects of production computer-based. In May 2020, The Cavalier Daily launched a redesigned website.

Cartoon Controversies

In 2006 and 2007, The Cavalier Daily comics section came under fire for controversial cartoons. In August 2006, the comics were considered insensitive to Christians, involving the Virgin Mary and Jesus. The controversy received national attention[2] and was featured on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor. In September 2007, the same cartoonist caused outcry with a comic entitled "Ethiopian Food Fight", which portrayed malnourished ethnic Ethiopians fighting each other with various objects including boots, twigs, pillows and chairs. The ambiguity of the term "food fight" carried over to the cartoon itself, creating controversy over whether it a) caricatured victims of the Ethiopian famine as being forced to eat non-food items, which they then would throw at each other in a "food fight" in the usual sense, or instead b) depicted Ethiopians so impoverished that they could afford neither food nor weapons, such that they were forced to improvise weapons to use in their fight over scarce food resources, a type of dispute to which news sources including CNN and the Washington Post have applied the term "food fight".[3] Some readers from each respective side joined in claiming that the artist's characterization of the disputants dehumanized Ethiopians, as did some readers who were not sure which meaning was intended but found either alternative objectionable. The controversy led the managing board of the paper to fire the artist despite a lack of clear justification concerning editorial oversight and ultimate responsibility for publication of the controversial comic;[4] the artist was also the senior graphics editor at the time, a position subordinate to all members of the managing board. Four other comic artists, including another graphics editor, voluntarily resigned from the paper, prompting an unprecedented mid-year replacement of comics staff. A complete comics strike was staged during a week of attempted negotiations, but the managing board covered up the strike by rerunning strips. The episode earned the 2007 managing board of the paper a Jefferson Muzzle award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.[5]

In 2008, two strips of the comic TCB were withdrawn following outcry from campus and alumni Christians as well as Catholic League president Bill Donohue. Donohue mistakenly suggested a double standard on the part of The Cavalier Daily, as evidenced by the comic strip Luftwaffle's cartoon featuring a censored Muhammad. He took this as an acknowledgment "that any and all depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammed are banned." [6] In fact, Luftwaffle was satirizing attitudes towards censorship. This is evidenced by their submission of a strip introducing the Prophet's twin brother (whose image, according to the strip's creators, is allowed to be displayed) for comedic effect. The strip was not allowed to run, prompting the authors to submit non sequitur jokes for the next two weeks.

University Governance Crisis

In the media firestorm surrounding the forced resignation of Teresa Sullivan, the University of Virginia president, The Cavalier Daily obtained a series of emails using the Freedom of Information Act that shone a light on the actions of the University's Board of Visitors.

Operations and Governance

The Cavalier Daily, until January 2012, went to press five issues per week in the fall and spring semesters. Starting in January 2012, the newspaper cut its Friday edition. Starting in August 2013, The Cavalier Daily replaced its daily newspaper with a revamped biweekly newsmagazine and expanded online and mobile content offerings. New digital offerings included mobile and tablet apps, a daily e-newsletter, high-quality multimedia content and an increased emphasis on social media and web graphics.[7] In 2017, The Cavalier Daily launched abCD magazine as a way to share longer-form stories through words and creative visuals. In 2019, The Cavalier Daily created On Record, a weekly podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. In 2020, The Cavalier Daily launched a redesigned website with easier access to articles and video content. Every article is now translated to Spanish and Mandarin.

Print distribution is 7,500 copies across the University Grounds and Charlottesville. Starting in August 2015, The Cavalier Daily began printing at Narrow Passage Press in Edinburg, Virginia. Previously, the newspaper was printed at the press of the Culpeper Star-Exponent in Culpeper, Virginia.

In an average year, the newspaper's staff exceeds 400 students, who are all volunteers. The paper's editors include five members of the Managing Board, several copy editors, online managers and editors, and technology managers, and over two dozen section editors, all elected by the staff each January.

The student journalists are solely responsible for all content under the direction of the student editor-in-chief. Nik Popli was elected as the 131st editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily on December 7, 2019.[8]

Accolades and Awards

The Cavalier Daily has been recognized as one of the best college newspapers in the country. It was named the third best public college newspaper by The Princeton Review in 2020.[9]

In recent years, The Cavalier Daily has won dozens of Virginia Press Association awards for its news, opinion, feature and critical content, as well as design, in a competition that places the paper in competition with professional daily newspapers across the state.[10]

Notable Past Staff Members

Cavalier Daily alumni are executives, editors and reporters at publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, Congressional Quarterly, CBS, NBC, Newsweek and Time, among other nationally prominent newspapers, magazines and broadcast networks.

Notable alumni of The Cavalier Daily include:


Other Areas


  1. ^ "About The Cavalier Daily".
  2. ^ Kinzie, Susan (2006-09-14). "Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire". Washington Post.
  3. ^ Caldwell, Jake (2008-04-30). "Fixes for the Food Fight". Washington Post.
  4. ^ Shapira, Ian (2007-09-12). "Cartoonist Forced Out Over Image of African Famine". Washington Post.
  5. ^ "2008 Muzzle Awards". Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2010-11-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Statement by Catholic League president Bill Donohue
  7. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Cavalier Daily announces restructuring plan".
  8. ^ Novak | 12/08/2019, Ethan. "The Cavalier Daily elects editors for the 131st term". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
  9. ^ "Best College Newspaper | The Princeton Review". Retrieved 2019-12-10.
  10. ^ "About". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
  11. ^ "Nancy Barnes, Editor".
  12. ^ International, United Press (1984-05-17). "Newsweek Says Writer Left Moscow After Harassment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  13. ^ "Martin Kady II". POLITICO Pro. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  14. ^ "The New York Times Co. Names Meredith Kopit Levien as Chief Executive". The New York Times. The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Pulitzer winning journalist George Rodrigue named editor of The Plain Dealer".