Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics, and the Montana Press, 1889 - 1959

Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics, and the Montana Press, 1889 - 1959

by Dennis L. Swibold
     
 

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The Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics, and the Montana Press, 1889–1959 is an important and timely book that addresses a key issue in Montana history: the Anaconda Copper Mining Company’s control of nearly all of the state’s larger newspapers and its citizens’ access to news. Such “captive” journalism was hardly unique to

Overview

The Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics, and the Montana Press, 1889–1959 is an important and timely book that addresses a key issue in Montana history: the Anaconda Copper Mining Company’s control of nearly all of the state’s larger newspapers and its citizens’ access to news. Such “captive” journalism was hardly unique to Montana, but in terms of its longevity, reach, and reputation, no industrial entity in any other state matched the Company’s hold over Montana’s press. Swibold’s study of this troubling history provides a dramatic look at the intersection between corporate power and the media while arguing that the legacy of Montana’s “captive press” still colors the ownership of Montana’s major dailies. The story resonates beyond Montana as a cautionary tale for modern news organizations consumed and marginalized in ever-vaster corporate consolidations, where the temptation to harness news to the service of marketing and image runs strong.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780975919606
Publisher:
Montana Historical Society Press
Publication date:
09/01/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
1
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

It promised to be a glittering affair, a celebration worthy of a copper king. Across Montana in the late summer of 1899, dozens of newspapermen tossed their type sticks and inky aprons and boarded trains for the annual convention of the Montana State Press Association. For most, especially those who scraped meager livings from small rural weeklies, this would serve as the year’s only vacation–five precious days to ogle the latest technology, commiserate with peers, sniff the political breezes, and engage in what one editor described as the usual fraternal “jollification.” Mixing business with their drinks, some could glean crucial insights into keeping their papers solvent until the next election cycle or, failing that, find a buyer. Editions published at convention time might be thin on news but as Butte’s daily Inter Mountain explained, loyal readers deserved a rest from the “endless catastrophes that sizzle and seethe” through the “fissures” of an editor’s brain. “To receive one issue of a great family newspaper that isn’t trying to save the country must be a great relief to the average American newspaper reader who is brought in touch with a compelling crisis every 24 hours,” he wrote. In other words, the news could wait. Their mission thus excused, the journalists set off. For many, the trail ran through Butte, Montana’s bawdy, blasted, smoke-choked island of industrial enterprise, home of the “richest hill on earth” and the world’s pre-eminent source of copper at the onset of the Electric Age. The city’s veins of red ore coursed through dozens of mines but the fattest lay beneath the claims of the mighty Anaconda Copper Mining Company, whose story and that of its guiding genius, Marcus Daly, were as familiar to the traveling editors as their own. The Anaconda stain on Montana journalism would linger for decades. The legend of the state’s copper-collared press was no mere fiction, though the small, persistent and often radical press that howled at its heels often exaggerated its details. The story, steeped in the partisanship and boosterism peculiar to American frontier journalism, would only grow as the Anaconda company consolidated its industrial might.

Meet the Author

For twenty-five years, Dennis L. Swibold has worked as a Montana newspaper editor and teacher. Swibold holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana, and for the past fifteen years has taught in the School of Journalism at the University of Montana. In his career, he as served as editor for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Sidney Herald. In 2001 Swibold received the Montana Newspaper Association’s President’s Award. Swibold lives in Missoula, Montana with his wife Julie and son Colton.

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