SAN FRANCISCO — Her day started with tweets, like usual. But by the evening, Matea Gold was far from Washington D.C., speaking as the featured guest at a UCLA reception that celebrated the Daily Bruin and the power of journalism.
Gold, who is the national political enterprise and investigations editor at the Washington Post, graduated from UCLA in 1996 and immediately went into journalism. Over the course of the April 18 event, she told stories of her time in Westwood and of the lifelong skills she learned.
Nine current staffers from the Daily Bruin made the midweek trek to attend the reception. While the event was part of UCLA Giving’s program, it also offered a chance for current and former staffers to gather and exchange stories about their time in Kerckhoff Hall.
The Bruin, like the university, has been around since 1919, but a formal alumni association hasn’t existed. This event, hosted by 1994-95 Sports editor Lawrence Ma, was one step toward a permanent group. The first annual alumni reunion is scheduled for fall 2018 and a newly created position on staff was established to facilitate this long-term commitment to alumni development.
Our trip to San Francisco was journalistic in nature, but we embraced every experience we got – from airport slowdowns to Mission burritos. Here are the behind-the-scenes stories from our time out of Westwood.
Wednesday, April 18 –– 9:30 a.m.
It’s a sunny morning, but we’re ready to encounter the gloomy skies and chilly mist of San Francisco. Backpacks and suitcases in hand, we request our Ubers and are whisked to LAX. Thanks to our great planning and punctuality, we arrive an hour and a half before boarding time. And then airport security.
Eight of us go through without a hitch. But with Jackie’s license on her dresser in Westwood and a Bruincard in hand – specifically, only a Bruincard – we get some excitement early in the trip.
So how do you convince security to accept a Bruincard as identification? It probably helps to have a group of coworkers vouch for you. You should also prepare for an extra 15 minutes so they can test for explosive materials on every item you’re carrying on. Every. Item.
We still make it with plenty of time to spare.
We land in San Francisco and waste no time designating managing editor Madeleine Pauker as our Bay Area native who will guide us on the trip.
Like lost ducklings, we wander onto BART and toward 16th street. At this point, we come to a general consensus that we need something to eat. Pauker happily leads the way to find us some delicious burritos.
A small, mom-and-pop restaurant known as Taqueria El Buen Sabor is where we stopped. The place is somewhat packed, a sign that it is probably a local favorite. With burritos, tacos, churros and chips in hand, Sports editor David Gottlieb wastes no time taking a bite into his giant burrito.
Pauker then tells us about a beautiful park a couple blocks away where we can enjoy our lunch. As the amazingly cooperative and cohesive group that we are, we agree the park is a great choice.
Maybe it was the cold breeze and the fact we still had our heavy luggage, but the walk to Mission Dolores Park definitely felt further than two blocks. We huddle together at our picnic tables. Located on a scenic, green hill, the park has everything a visitor wants: gorgeous view, comfortable seating, fresh air and puppies. Yes, as we munch on our burritos, a friendly pack of dogs visit our table to greet us and eat every crumb they can find.
We finish our food through gusts of wind, snap a few photos and then we’re off to find our warmer home for the trip.
All dressed up after a short stint at our diamond-in-the-rough Airbnb in Daly City, we pile into Ubers and make our way to The Olympic Club on Post Street. A bit intimidated, we are quickly welcomed by Ma, who came ready with iconic copies of Daily Bruins from 1994 and 1995.
Ma’s successor in the Sports section, Melissa Anderson, joins us ahead of the main event. She was one of the first women to lead the Daily Bruin Sports section.
As we exchange stories, there are so many aspects of our UCLA experiences that seem to have gone unchanged. Sportswriters on deadline are still sportswriters on deadline. Flag football showdowns between The Bruin and the Daily Trojan (Blood Bowl) are still a matter of great pride.
The technology has changed and the pressures are different, which bring financial repercussions that were just starting to be felt 20 years ago. But our journalistic pursuits and passion have remained constant.
There are key differences, though. UCLA men’s basketball was a national champion in the mid-90s.
Some of our favorite moments from the whole trip came before the program itself, when the nine of us mingled with Daily Bruin and UCLA alumni.
We met people like Brian Ng, who created The Bruin’s first website, and Jennifer Lee, the managing editor under Gold in 1994-95. We exchanged stories with Narges and Zac Dillon, who spent their UCLA experiences – like ours – holed up in the Daily Bruin office and working tirelessly.
John Crittenden, a staffer in the 1970s and currently senior counsel at Cooley LLP, told us how his writing skills at The Bruin directly helped him transition into professional legal work. Crittenden teaches a course on trademark law at the UCLA School of Law.
Even alumni who aren’t in journalism anymore share an appreciation for independent media.
Time for the main event! Sam Hoff, a 2L student at the UCLA School of Law and the 2015-16 editor in chief, was the moderator for the conversation, taking the audience on Gold’s journalistic journey.
From her memorable stories of the mid-90s (the Northridge earthquake and a lawsuit against the university) to her time at the Los Angeles Times, Gold shared how she has seen the industry change in her career.
On election night in 2016, Gold was assigned to write the Post’s live story with Pulitzer-winning reporter David Fahrenthold. Since that night, things haven’t slowed down. Just this past week, the Post won Pulitzers for its coverage of the Roy Moore scandals in Alabama and of Russia investigations. All of this while withstanding President Donald Trump’s attacks on the free press.
To hear from someone on the front lines of journalism’s biggest stories was, for us, captivating and inspiring. Not all of us want to pursue media careers, but we can all appreciate Gold’s work in uncovering truth and informing the world.
The program ended with updates on our Daily Bruin alumni association and UCLA’s centennial campaign, but we stuck around for photos of Daily Bruin editors in chief and with Gold.
While the trip was short, we left inspired by her story from Kerckhoff to the Post. We got to spend an entire evening talking about our favorite stories and hearing tales from the editors who paved the way before us.
We’ll see everybody in Westwood next time.