The Oracle replaced the USF Campus Edition of the now defunct Tampa Times, which had previously served as the school's news publication. The Tampa Times had given the student newspaper three pages of its Monday editions, the front page and pages one and two of the second section, to feature USF campus news. The newspaper made a special Campus Edition press run after its own Monday morning early editions were completed specifically to print papers to be distributed in designated racks on campus and at nearby venues. The university had not yet formed a school for mass communication, so publishing the newspaper was the responsibility of a modest journalism effort, offering four or five basic news writing and editing courses and run by its English department.
In the summer of 1966, Dr. Arthur M. Sanderson, director of student publications and English professor, entered into an agreement with the St. Petersburg Times to print an entire stand-alone newspaper which would be distributed on campus each Wednesday. Associate communications professor and Oracle general manager Steve Yates, editor-in-chief Harry Haigley and photographer/reporter Tony Zappone collaborated in naming it The Oracle, a Greek term signifying an infallible authority, among other things. (One consideration had been to name it the "USF Bull Sheet.") Its first staff consisted of about 20 student volunteers and paid staffers who used a small office space on the second floor of the University Student Center as headquarters. Yates became the academic faculty coordinator of the paper and kept offices, along with Sanderson, in a room adjacent to the newspaper office for ease of consultation.
Editor Haigley assigned Zappone, The Oracle's first staff shutterbug, the task of creating one color photograph illustrating an aspect of campus life or events for the front page of each issue. It was a feature that no other university newspaper had at that time and was a cooperative effort with the St. Petersburg Times.
Each Tuesday, Haigley, Zappone and a third alternating staff member drove 30 miles from the USF campus in North Tampa to the downtown St. Petersburg headquarters of the St. Pete Times to spend an afternoon supervising the composing room staff while mechanicals and plates for the late night press run of The Oracle were assembled. The papers were trucked to the campus each week in the early-morning hours and set out in racks around the campus.
In 1967, during its first year of publication, The Oracle was awarded several of the Associated Collegiate Press' National Pacemaker Awards for "excellence in college journalism." Another historic effort by The Oracle was the production of a full-color campus feature magazine insert once each term, edited by Yates and Zappone, with contributions of copy and photographs from The Oracle staff and USF faculty members. The magazine was recognized by the Associated Collegiate Press as the only magazine insert published by a university newspaper at that time.
In September, 1970, the newspaper began publishing on Tuesdays and Fridays and in 1972 enhanced the student news and advertising sales staff sufficiently to publish Tuesdays through Fridays in a reduced tabloid-size format. In 1989, The Oracle was named to the ACP's Hall of Fame. The paper won the 1990 Society of Professional Journalists award for Best Student Daily in the Nation (no second or third place was declared that year).
It is now published four days a week.And has won numerous awards in recent years, including best overall Student Daily by the Society for Professional Journalists' "Mark of Excellence Awards" as well as 2nd place two consecutive years for editorial cartoons by Jeff Sheridan, the Oracle Cartoonist.