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The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18

The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18
    Book Description:

    In an age before radio and television, E. W. Scripps's twenty-one newspapers, major newswire service, and prominent news syndication service composed the first truly national media organization in the United States. In The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, Dale Zacher details the scope, organization, and character of the mighty Scripps empire during World War I and reveals how the pressures of the market, government censorship, propaganda, and progressivism transformed news coverage. _x000B_This volume presents the first systematic examination of a major newspaper operation during World War I and provides fascinating accounts of its struggles with competition, attending to patriotic duties, and internal editorial dissent. The book also considers the newspapers' relationship with President Woodrow Wilson, American neutrality, the move to join the war, and fallout from disillusionment over the actuality of war. Ultimately, Zacher shows how the progressive spirit and political independence at the Scripps newspapers came under attack and was changed forever during the era._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09299-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In the winter of 1919, sixty-five-year-old Edward Willis Scripps (generally known as E.W.) was thinking about his mortality and the future of his chain of newspapers and news services. “This might be as good a time as another to take up and get out of the way some business that ought to be settled before . . . I get much older,” he wrote one of his personal attorneys, Thomas Sidlow, on December 11, 1919. Scripps hoped to set up a legal arrangement that would allow him to keep “centralized and continued control” while ensuring that any heir to his...

  5. 1 The Concern: June 27, 1914
    (pp. 13-31)

    To understand a typical newspaper owned by Edward Willis Scripps before the war, one need only look at the June 27, 1914, edition of his chain’s greatest newspaper, theCleveland Press.¹ More than half of the front page was filled with sports, tragic accidents, and lighthearted anecdotes. The rest was devoted to a front-page editorial on political advertising and reports of local battles with the Cleveland establishment. The Scripps newspapers were designed to draw readers—in particular the working class—with a sugar coating of entertainment while administering a dose of medicine: progressive ideals of government reform and social justice.²...

  6. 2 Seeds Get Planted: June 1914 to May 1915
    (pp. 32-57)

    E. W. Scripps often used a metaphor of planting seeds to describe the impact his newspapers had on shaping public opinion. Public acceptance of new ideas takes time, he explained in a 1914 letter: “When I have planted a dollar’s worth of effort to my newspapers, with a view of gathering the harvest from 10 to 20 years thereafter, I have gotten a yield of one-hundred fold. When I have planted a dollar’s worth . . . with a view of plucking the harvest in a few months, I have seldom gained more than a bare twenty-five percent.”¹

    In June...

  7. 3 Harsh Realities: May to November 1915
    (pp. 58-80)

    On May 7, 1915, just as the German submarineU-20sank the British linerLusitaniaoff Ireland’s Old Head of Kinsale, some in the Scripps Concern were floating a plan for an early push for the reelection of Woodrow Wilson. A proposal to use the NEA to coordinate news coverage designed to reelect Wilson came in mid-April from Alfred Andersson, an editor-in-chief for a portion of the Harper Group of Scripps newspapers. “My idea about a newspaper’s influence politically is not that it is . . . in the work that it does preliminary to the campaign in giving its...

  8. 4 “Genuine Enthusiastic Support”: November 1915 to November 1916
    (pp. 81-105)

    Two issues dominated the pages of the Scripps newspapers in the year preceding the 1916 election—the presidential campaign and publicity of income tax returns. To readers the issues probably seemed unrelated, but to E. W. Scripps they were linked so tightly that he threatened to withhold his newspapers’ support for Wilson unless he supported the publicity issue.

    Coverage of the war, while vital to the Concern’s reputation and profits, became increasingly routine as theLusitaniasinking slipped farther into the past. Censorship prevented major scoops, and the German threat seemed to lessen. The country and the Concern turned their...

  9. 5 Democracy versus Autocracy: December 1916 to July 1917
    (pp. 106-136)

    On December 6, 1916, E. W. Scripps asked longtime employee and friend Gilson Gardner to send him a list of houses near Washington that he might be able to buy or lease. “For several reasons, I would not want it to be known that I am making inquiries,” he wrote Gardner.¹ Scripps wanted a simple but comfortable home within a car ride of the capitol. “Just what I don’t want is a show place, or a place that a chauffeur would point out to a visiting stranger as being the Scripps’ Home.”² He would not tell Gardner, but the Concern’s...

  10. 6 “To Advocate a Policy and to Yourself Meet Its Requirements”: July to December 1917
    (pp. 137-171)

    By the summer of 1917, the Scripps newspapers, particularly those in Ohio, were solid supporters of compulsory military service—a key component in the NEA’s editorial policy on preparedness since shortly after theLusitaniawas sunk. The NEA said in a December 1916 editorial, “You can find no legitimate excuse for opposition to the training of young men and boys in the manual of arms.” Like many progressive thinkers, the NEA believed that military training was good for the soul, too, and would “give the United States a finer body of young manhood than it now possesses.”¹ Forced military service...

  11. 7 Reconsidering an “Ostrich Type of Patriotism”: 1918
    (pp. 172-210)

    On January 23, Neg Cochran, Bob Scripps’s mentor on war policy, visited the offices of the CPI in Washington, hoping to get some attention. He carried a map, normally hanging in the NEA’s bureau office, showing the locations of all of the daily newspaper clients of the syndication service. The NEA had at least one client in each of the fortyeight states, including one in the District of Columbia, four in Canada, and one in Cuba—with a combined circulation of four and a half million. Cochran pointed out that about two-thirds of the 301 clients took the NEA full...

  12. Conclusion: “Harder . . . to Be of Public Service”
    (pp. 211-224)

    Four years of covering a world war had changed the Scripps Concern in ways its leaders could not have anticipated in 1914. Much of the war’s impact was positive: profits were fatter, readership was up, and more newspapers were buying UP and NEA services. These two services, in particular, had shown they could compete in and adapt to complex, international news environments.

    But the war also was a negative force. It created a split among E.W, Bob, and Jim Scripps over how the family should manage the newspaper chain. The Concern’s longstanding reputation for strong, independent, progressive advocacy, something upon...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 225-278)
    (pp. 279-280)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 281-286)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-292)