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The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18

Dale Zacher

Publication Year: 2008

In an age before radio and television, E. W. Scrippss ownership of twenty-one newspapers, a major news wire service, and a prominent news syndication service represented the first truly national media organization in the United States. In The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18, Dale Zacher details the scope, organization, and character of the mighty Scripps empire during World War I to reveal how_x000B_the pressures of the market, government censorship, propaganda,_x000B_and progressivism transformed news coverage during wartime._x000B__x000B_This volume presents the first systematic look at the daily operations of any major newspaper operation during World War I and provides fascinating accounts of how the papers struggled with competition, their patriotic duties, and internal editorial dissent. The book also engages questions about American neutrality and the newspapers relationship with President Woodrow Wilson, the move to join the war, and the fallout from the disillusionment of actually experiencing war. Ultimately, Zacher shows how the progressive spirit and political independence at the Scripps newspapers came under attack and was forever changed by this crucial period in American history.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The History of Communication

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

I began doing research for this book as a project in Journalism 811 while a graduate student at Ohio University in 1994. What first was a short study of the Scripps newspapers in the 1916 election evolved into my doctoral...

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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...

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1. The Concern: June 27, 1914

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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, the Cleveland Press.1 More than half of the front page was filled with sports...

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2. Seeds Get Planted: June 1914 to May 1915

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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...

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3. Harsh Realities: May to November 1915

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pp. 58-80

On May 7, 1915, just as the German submarine U-20 sank the British liner Lusitania off Ireland’s Old Head of Kinsale, some in the Scripps Concern were floating a plan for an early push for the reelection of Woodrow...

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4. "Genuine Enthusiastic Support": November 1915 to November 1916

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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...

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5. Democracy versus Autocracy: December 1916 to July 1917

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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...

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6. "To Advocate a Policy and to Yourself Meet Its Requirements": July to December 1917

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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 the Lusitania was sunk. The NEA said in a December 1916 editorial, “You can find no...

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7. Reconsidering an "Ostrich Type of Patriotism": 1918

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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...

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Conclusion: "Harder . . . to Be of Public Service"

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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...


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pp. 225-278


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pp. 279-280


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pp. 281-289

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092992
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252031588

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: The History of Communication