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Chapter II. An Apprenticeship in the Publishing World THERE WAS little anticipation of the career that awaited him when Sam McClure journeyed from Galesburg, via Boston, to New York, where he founded his famous and successful newspaper syndicate in 1884. Unknown to him, the publishing world was in a springtime of change that would open new opportunities. Between i860 and 1900, while the American population was doubling, the number of daily newspapers grew from 387 with an average circulation of about 4,000 to 2,190 with an average circulation near 12,000, and the number of weeklies grew fivefold to 15,813.1 The number of dailies almost doubled again between 1890 and 1915.2 Periodicals, often little more than newspapers themselves, grew from 700 in 1865 to 5,500 in 1900, with the peak growth coming in the decade after McClure left college, during which more than a thousand new magazines werefounded.3 The reasons for this phenomenal growth lie partly in gov­ ernmental action. In both 1870 and 1874 copyright laws were tightened, and by 1891 American participation in an international copyright law became effective, though cum­ bersome to comply with and still more difficult to enforce.4 Coupled with this protection for authors was the develop­ ment of additional services by the Post Office Department. In 1879 second-class mailing privileges were extended to magazines. Shortly thereafter, free rural delivery was 1 Bernard A. Weisberger, The American Newspaper (Chicago, 1961), I I I , 146; Printer's Ink, ixx (May io, 1893), 595. 2 Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism, A History: 1690-1960 (New York, 1962), 549. SFrank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, in, 5; ibid., IV, 11. 4 Ibid., iv, 42. A P P R E N T I C E S H I P I N P U B L I S H I N G added. These developments enabled the subscriber to get his magazines quickly and inexpensively.5 If the government made concessions to the press which amounted to a subsidy, it was because of the demands of an increasingly literate public tutored by the new public schools and colleges. Between 1870 and 1890 illiteracy fell from 20 to 13.3 percent.® The new public wanted reading matter, not just in the traditional fields of general literature, but in specialized areas of religion, education, finance, agri­ culture, home-making, and recreation. Luther Mott, who has counted the journals, writes that by 1892 almost every organized fraternity or society, certainly every na­ tional one, had its official organ.7 And in America's new in­ dustrial society the number of organizations was multiply­ ing rapidly. There were 200 college papers, for example, such as the Knox Student, giving an average of almost one paper per 1,000 college students. Faddish recreational jour­ nals, such as the Wheelman, a Boston magazine for bicycle enthusiasts, were also added to the flood of literature di­ rected towards the new market. By count of Printer's Ink in 1894 there were 168 prohibition and temperance jour­ nals, over 100 unofficial Methodist papers, and 20 publica­ tions of the G. A. R. alonel Another ingredient in the easy availability of literature was the series of technical advancements in the art of print­ ing. By 1886 a workable linotype machine was finally de­ veloped. Almost simultaneously a rapid multiple cylinder press that allowed even the largest city papers to print an entire edition in a few hours was marketed. The handtooled woodcuts for illustrations of the 1870's were super­ seded by the halftone photo-engraving process, which per­ mitted swift duplication of tonal grays in photographs. By 1893 even Gilder's stylish Century was employing this 6 James P. Wood, Magazines in the United States (New York, 1957), 74· β Mott, American Journalism, 507. t Mott, A History of American Magazines, iv, 10. A P P R E N T I C E S H I P I N P U B L I S H I N G method to reproduce illustrations. At the same time the first regular four-color printing was inaugurated by the Chicago Inter-Ocean.8 The next major innovation, which came swiftly, was the direct reproduction of live photographs, and by the Spanish-American War even provincial news­ papers were availing themselves of this advancement.9 These and still other technological advances ushered in a media revolution and paved the way for careers such as McClure's. Significant developments occurred in the...


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