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E. W. Scripps and the Business of Newspapers

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Overview

Scripps's innovations included the creation of a telegraphic news service and an illustrated news features syndicate and the application of modern business practices to his chain of more than forty newspapers. His newspapers, aimed at working-class readers, were intended to be advocates for the common people and crusaded for lower streetcar fares, free textbooks for public school children, municipal ownership of utilities, pure food legislation, and many other causes.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Do not be afraid to be called a skin flint or miser. You can acquire no more valuable reputation," Edward Willis Scripps told the business manager of his San Francisco Daily News. He never tolerated "frills" for his staffers, which in his mind included toilet paper, ice in the summertime and even pencils. But his formula worked. From 1870 to 1908, Scripps built an empire of small, cheaply run newspapers that shared Scripps-based wire copy (an innovation in its time), aimed at a working-class readership and shut down in an instant when their market faltered. The effort was a struggle from the first. Scripps had to force himself on his newspaper-executive brothers to get a shot at the business--and then he outdid them at their own game. He fought off efforts by such rival publishers as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, who had just as much moxie as he did. And he strived to build--of all things--newspapers that were not beholden to advertisers. None of it was easy, and despite the newly available resource of Scripps's business correspondence, it isn't any easier getting a sense of Scripps as a flesh-and-blood print mogul here. Baldasty paints readers a nice profile of his subject at the book's start; later chapters, however, are all thesis and supporting point, with little in the way of punchy anecdote. Still, the E.W. Scripps Co. thrives today, and is currently involved in a real down-and-dirty newspaper war in Colorado. If Baldasty too baldly lays out the nuts-and-bolts business plan that got the company there, Scripps for one would appreciate his economy. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Today, the daily newspaper that most Americans read is owned by a corporate chain. Since World War II, the shift has been from 80 percent independently owned to 80 percent corporately controlled. E.W. Scripps is credited with establishing the first national newspaper chain at the turn of the century, and his business practices transformed the newspaper industry. Baldasty, a professor of communications at the University of Washington and author of The Commercialization of the News (Univ. of Wisconsin, 1992), draws upon Scripps's business correspondence to detail the development of his newspaper chain. Scripps targeted working-class readers and developed a centralized system of distributing news and managing individual papers. This book offers a specialized examination of Scripps's business practices and assumes a basic background in newspaper history. A welcome addition to academic journalism collections.--Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ., Takoma Park, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252067501
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Series: History of Communication Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Chronology
Introduction 1
1 The Struggle for Control 9
2 Expansion 19
3 Controlling Costs 33
4 Management 55
5 Avoiding Competition 69
6 Advertising Is the Enemy 89
7 An Advocate of the Working Class 102
8 "Is It Interesting?" 120
9 The Legacy of E. W. Scripps 146
App. 1 Tables 155
App. 2 Methods 160
Notes 165
Bibliography 207
Index 215
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