Page images
PDF
EPUB

tions of one man. Mr. Nixon dominates it to-day no friends of silver. Recent occurrences leave no doubt more thoroughly perhaps than Mr. Medill dominates that what may be called the business community of the' Tribune, but his rule has been practically co-exist- Chicago, the great financial agencies and the merent with the life of the paper. One who knows the Inter- chants, of whom an editor must think twice ere he Ocean may justly feel that he knows its editor, while offend, are inclined to resent agitation of the currency he who enjoys the friendship of Mr. Nixon can at all question. The other morning dailies with one accord times forecast with almost perfect accuracy the course are preaching the gospel of gold. The Inter-Ocean of the newspaper upon any given públic issue. It is alone stands for bimetallism and shows no signs of this straightforward pursuit of a never changing waver in the fight even though it antagonize the most ideal, this undeviating progress along a path which powerful interests in Chicago. never wanders, that gives the Inter-Ocean its character Under Mr. Nixon the Inter-Ocean has been an and its strength. Canvassers for rival newspapers editor's newspaper rather than a business-office news. will tell you that there is no subscriber so hard to lure paper – a distinction which newspaper men will from his allegiance as he who takes the Inter-Ocean. readily understand. It has been his policy rather to Demonstrations of the superior excellence of other eschew the catch-penny devices which-to the conjournals fall on deaf ears. “I am used to the Inter- tinual regret of old-fashioned journalists-certainly Ocean, I know what to expect of it and I don't want have proved efficient in extending the circulation of to change" is the usual response to the blandishments newspapers though they decidedly lowered the digof the emissaries of its rivals. As for the subscribers nity of the journalistic calling. But for a period the to its weekly, it is a common saying in Chicago that Inter-Ocean was a leader in coupon schemes, colored the Inter Ocean might as well have its mailing list supplements, guessing contests and the like. It was stereotyped, as the only thing which leads a sub- in May, 1891, that the Chicago newspaper world was scriber to discontinue his subscription is death. It is profoundly stunned by the news that Mr. Herman H. interesting to consider how much the loyalty of its Kohlsaat had purchased a controlling interest in the subscribers to the paper may be due to the loyalty of Inter-Ocean and was to take the active management the paper itself and its staff to each other. The

of the paper.

At first people laughed. The man periodical “shake-ups” that unsettle almost every who had thus suddenly sprung into the centre of the other newspaper office in Chicago have no parallel in journalistic arena was not only not a trained newsthe Inter-Ocean. Members of its editorial staff have paper man but had made his large fortune in a calling grown gray-haired in its service. Fifteen years' con- which, honorable enough in itself, imparted a rather tinued labor in its behalf is no exceptional record. burlesque tone to his newly announced ambitions. The editorial staff in its harmony and good-fellowship He was a highly successful baker who, besides develclosely resembles a great family. It would seem that oping to its utmost the large wholesale business of the kindly spirit of the editor-in-chief-of whom his an established Chicago bakery, had hit upon the idea bitterest political antagonists speak only words of re- of furnishing a ready market for its output by conspect and admiration—has permeated the entire force ducting cheap eating houses in the business districts. -as it certainly has fixed the character of the paper. The crowded restaurant with a circular counter at Himself broad minded, an idealist and a humani- which the hero of Henry B. Fuller's novel, “ The tarian, William Penn Nixon has made his paper a Cliff-Dwellers,” sat on a high stool devouring coffee leader in every work of civic improvement or philan- and rolls and exchanging cominonplaces with the pert thropy. The influence of the Inter-Ocean in behalf of cashier, is a type of the establishments which made any local reform is never sought in vain. Its attitude Mr. Kohlsaat rich and which furnished the paratoward such agencies for municipal regeneration as graphers of rival newspapers with stores of culinary the Civic Federation is always that of a defender and similes to decorate the, witticisms with which they champion. Partisan as it is, it has not hesitated to hailed the new recruit to the journalistic army. But attack Republican municipal officials who have be- the chorus of laughter did not last long. Mr. Kohltrayed their trust nor to oppose corrupt Republicans saat went at his new task with characteristic vigor seeking public office. Its editor is a good citizen as and enterprise. The business office methods for well as a good Republican, and ranks his duty as a pushing circulation were applied to the Inter-Ocean as citizen above his duty to his party. His service to his never before. What newspaper men have come to party, too, has been rendered for public spirited call irreverently the “ coupon fake” was employed reasons only. In his youth he held political office, by the Inter-Ocean first and most successfully in Chi. sitting for two terms in the Ohio Legislature, but cago. It was no uncommon sight to see the corner since his residence in Chicago, though at all times of Madison and Dearborn streets crowded with peo. trusted and relied upon by Republican leaders, na- ple buying Inter-Oceans for the sake of the coupons tional and local, he has neither held nor sought public which might be exchanged for some illustrated puboffice of any kind. Personally the quietest, least self- lication. The circulation rose rapidly. A perfecting assertive of men, Mr. Nixon does not lack courage. press, which printed illustrations in several colorsPerhaps the most striking illustration of this quality the first of its kind ever installed in a newspaper is to be found in the hard fight his paper is to-day office-was added to the plant and produced immedimaking against the inequalities of the present money ate effect on the circulation of the Sunday edition. system and the encouragement it is giving to the In originating such devices for catching the public

[graphic][ocr errors]

profession in Chicago. W. H. Busbey, the managing editor, and L. W. Busbey, one of the best known political correspondents in the country, have been long with the paper and have added much its force and excellence.

THE ONE-CENT PAPERS OF CHICAGO. One-cent journalism is popular in Chicago. The successful penny papers here were born of the audacity of Melville E. Stone, the present general manager of the Associated Press. Mr. Stone's “audacity” has since been dignified by the name of “genius"the result of success. If he had failed it would probably have been designated as “ folly." The record of Mr. Stone in journalism covers a long period, but it was not until 1875 that he made the bold inove which gave birth to the Daily News, a 1-cent afternoon newspaper. At this time Victor F. Lawson was publishing a paper in his native tongue-Scandinavianand Stone arranged to issue his paper from Lawson's office. Stone furnished the brains, a fellow worker named Dougherty contributed some experience and an Englishman named Megie supplied the money, $10,000. The first number of the new paper made its appearance Christmas day, 1875. At the end of the first year the stock in trade of the Veus consisted of brains and experience.

Victor F. Lawson at this time was induced to enter the firm, and with his comparatively abundant resources the News was given fresh life. Lawson was the business manager and Stone remained its editor. The latter had big ideas and he began to put them into operation. He bought all the news there was in sight, using the best of it and throwing the remainder in the waste basket. He introduced many new and surprising features and withal some very expensive ones. Stone is a born detective, and he was not satisfied with merely printing the news about big criminal events. He not only exposed the nefarious Cook County ring in 1887, but directed the work of one of the big detective agencies in Chicago while it was engaged in securing the evidence. During the great railroad strike of 1877 his reporters patroled the strike district on horseback and the paper issued hourly editions. In the same year the failure of the State Savings Institution and the flight of its president to Europe gave Stone a great opportunity for newsgathering. His reporters traced the fugitive through Canada, followed him across the Atlantic, discovered him in Stuttgart and interviewed him.

In 1881 the News began to issue a morning edition, which is now called the Record. It is one of the few morning papers whose proprietors have resisted the temptation to publish a Sunday edition, although the Sunday papers are more profitable than any week-day edition.

Mr. Store's health gave way under the severe strain of conducting two daily papers, which had also made him chief of a large detective bureau, and he sold his interest to his partner and went to Europe. A s an evidence of his industry, the following anec

attention Mr. Kohlsaat was unusually successful, and the effect of his efforts upon the circulation and advertising business of the paper was so marked that the rival publishers, who had greeted him with derision upon his entry to the journalistic field, began to seriously wish he would quit it again. That event came more suddenly than any one expected. Serious disagreement as to the policy of the paper having arisen, Mr. Nixon bought out his energetic associate and resumed entire control of the newspaper. Mr. Kohlsaat went into his retirement, which proved to be only temporary, having won the respect of all his rivals. The writer recalls hearing a newspaper proprietor remark, the day the.change was announced, that every newspaper in Chicago was materially enhanced in value by Mr. Kohlsaat's retreat. Yet vigorous as was his short campaign in the Inter-Ocean office the paper has lost no prestige since his withdrawal, but has won notable triumphs both political and of a business nature.

Among the men who give character to the InterOcean are Dr. O. W. Nixon, brother of the editorin-chief, and Frank Gilbert, both editorial writers. Elwyn A. Barron, the dramatic critic, has a national reputation in his profession and as a dramatist and poet. Charles E. Nixon, musical critic and editorial writer, and W. H. Harper, the exchange editor, whose clever idea of competitive designs for a figure typical of Chicago resulted in the Inter-Ocean's widely known “I will !” girl, stand in the front rank of their

[graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small]

dote was related of him after he became manager of of the Record, has long been one of the drawing cards the Associated Press :

of that paper. When Congress has not been in session He had gone to Europe on one of his periodical Mr. Curtis has employed his time in writing special “resting trips "accompanied by John Knickerbocker. articles from various sections of the country. In this a Chicago lawyer. A few weeks after they sailed capacity he has visited every section of the United Knickerbocker was agair. seen in Chicago.

States. He has done some remarkable work in this Why," said a friend, " I thought you had gone line, and is now en route to Japan to write a series of to Europe !"

articles on the probable effect that the war with “ So I did," replied the lawyer, “but I went for China will have on the commercial business between rest and Mel Stone went with me. He would get the victorious nation and the United States. me up every morning before daybreak, keep me on Another specialist on the Record is George Ade, a the rush all day and it would be midnight before I most prolific writer, whose“ Stories of the Street would get to bed. I concinded that I could get more and Town " appear daily on the editorial page. The rest by coming back to Chicago and going to work." demand for these street and character sketches has

Since the time Mr. Lawson bought Mr. Stone's in- been so great that they are now regularly issued in terest, he has given his best thought and greatest book forin. Mr. Ade is also a frequent contributor attention to his morning paper. While its circula- to the pictorial weeklies of the East. He has demontion is largest among the working classes it has strated that his chosen field of writing is practically more features distinctly literary than any other Chi- inexhaustible. cago paper. The best known specialist on its staff “Shop Talk on the Wonders of the Craft" is a is Eugene Field, whose “Sharps and Flats” column Record series that has a special interest for those of was for a long time the great attraction of its edi- mechanical turn or taste. torial page. Of late years the character of Mr. Under the heading of “Qneer Sprigs of Gentility" Field's work has undergone a decided change. He the Marquise de Fontenoy writes entertainingly of started out as a humorist, and made a reputation those who have become celebrated or notorious in the in that line before coming to Chicago. He is essen- Old World capitals. It is a feature that one would tially a poet, and his publications in verse are well rather expect to see in the 2-cent morning papers known. He has gradually drifted away from the than in a penny journal, but in the line of distinct humoristic into the purely literary. Age has given literary specials the Record so far has had no compethim a serious turn. In personal appearance Mr. Field

itors in Chicago. is tall and slim, sleek and bald.

A recent siroke of enterprise in the line of supplyWilliam Elroy Curtis, Washington correspondent ing special articles was in sending Trumbull White as

a steerage passenger to Europe to write a series of ar- ment. His life since the close of the war-in which ticles on the immigration question. These resulted he served under the Stars and Stripes—has been spent in the introduction of a bill in Congress to amend the wholly in journalistic work. Under Wilbur F. Storey immigration laws, but it was too late in the session in the palmy days of the Times he ran the newspaper to secure its passage.

gamut from reporter to chief editorial writer. JoinOf late the paper has added to its literary features ing the staff of the Herald in the days of its youth, he the publication of novels and novelettes dealing with became editor-in-chief and a heavy stockholder. If criminal mysteries. Prizes are given to readers who James W. Scott is to be credited with much of the send in proper solutions of the mystery involved pre- business prosperity of that paper, Martin J. Russell vious to the publication of the last chapter. This feat- deserves credit for fixing its political character and ure has developed such popularity that the paper is impressing upon it the principles of Democracy. An now offering large prizes to authors for such stories. unusually fluent writer, with a nice and ready

In Lincoln Park on the north side of Chicago is the humor and a wide range of felicitous allusion, Mr. Daily News Sanitarium, where infants and children Russell is a model editor-in-chief. No editorial page from the tenement house districts are cared for dur- over which he presides can be dull, no newspaper the ing the summer months. It is sustained by the ly political course of which he directs can go awry. He News Fresh Air Fund, made up of voluntary contri- is the principal owner of the Chronicle and will butions and disbursed by the paper. This charity devote to it the very considerable leisure which reresults from an investigation made by the paper in mains to him after discharging his duties as collector 1887 into the heavy mortality among infants and of Uncle Sam's revenues at the port of Chicago. children during the months of July and August. The It is a felicitous feature of the organization of the experience of 1,300 physicians was obtained and they Chronicle that the two men upon whose efforts its attributed it to the impure air of the tenement dis- success will chiefly depend had served together for tricts, and said that the first essential of infantile years before and together built up the Chicago Herald health and life during the summer months was fresh from a little four-page paper to the great metropoliair. No salaries are paid to the officials connected tan journal of its later days. Horatio W. Seymour, with the Fresh Air Fund, so that every cent con- publisher and part owner of the Chronicle, is a vettributed is expended on the care of the children. eran in Chicago journalism. In 1875 he joined the

The home of the morning Record and evening Chicago Times staff, serving that paper as telegraph News is in the same building, although the former has editor and as night editor until 1883, when he went to an entrance on Madison street and the latter on Fifth avenue.

Victor F. Lawson became sole proprietor of the two papers at the time he dissolved partnership with Mr. Stone, and still retains exclusive ownership. He ranks high as a business man and is to be credited with the financial success his two papers have made.

C. H. Dennis is managing editor of the Record, and H. T. White occupies a similar position on the News. They are both newspaper men of wide experience, and have maintained the news reputation first given the papers by Melville E. Stone. THE “CHRONICLE,” DEMOCRACY'S ONLY CHAMPION.

Youngest of all the Chicago dailies is the Chronicle, which, doubtless, by the time this number of the REVIEW OF REVIEWS is published will be an accomplished fact, but which, while this article was being written, was still in a nascent state. Its reason for existence sprung first from the political apostasy of the Times-Herald under the Kohlsaat purchase, second from the fact that two unusually able Democratic newspaper man, Martin J. Russell and Horatio W. Seymour, were at the moment at leisure and able to devote their talents to the upbuilding of a new newspaper. Martin J. Russell is now Collector of the Port of Cnicago. A man of middle age, he was born and bred in Chicago, growing up with the city and knowing well its history and the history of its notable citizens. He has mingled in the activities of politics as far as it is wise for an active journalist to join in them, and has held offices of honor and of emolu

MARTIN J. RUSSELL.

[graphic]

the Herald as editorial writer. Of the development of the Herald he was a spectator and in the work of advancing it he joined. Though an unusually logical and forceful editorial writer, he abandoned that work in 1887 for the managing editorship, which post he held until the consolidation of the Times and the Herald in the early days of 1895. For years Mr. Seymour has been regarded as the leader of his profession in Chicago. His judgment of news is unerring, his search for it unwearying, and his fertility of resource when obstacles are encountered boundless. No managing editor has had more enthusiastic followers among his staff than he, and the loyalty of his subordinates, springing doubtless from the consideration he shows them, has been one of the prime sources of his strength. Bred to the printer's case, he is an adept in the mechanical side of newspaper management. Much of the typographical neatness which made the Herald in its younger days famous was due to his painstaking care, and there is every reason to believe that the same high standard of typographical excellence will be maintained in the Chronicle, which starts out with a plant capable of producing the very best mechanical effects.

The Chronicle is to be an eight or ten page 1-cent daily paper ; Sundays 5 cents, and of size commensurate with that of the other papers. Under ordinary circumstances the success of a new paper in Chicago might be held doubtful, but the singular situation of Chicago with over one hundred thousand Democratic voters and no Democratic paper seems to assure that

HORATIO W. SEYMOUR. there is a want, great if not long felt, for the Chroni

with “ Long” John Wentworth, of the Chicago cle to fill. The new paper will have the United Press

Democrat. But when Clay went down in defeat the dispatches and a full special service. At this writing purely political element in the Journal's ownership its staff, beyond H. J. Forker, managing editor, has dropped out and the paper passed into the hands of not been selected. Charles Lederer, the widely known the first member of that family of Wilsons by whom cartoonist of the Herald, has been reported as one of

it has ever since been controlled. Richard L. Wilson the staff of the Chronicle, the efforts of which in the

was paragrapher of the Journal during the Clay camcause of Democracy would be greatly aided by his

paign, and at its close he alone had pluck enough to vigorous work.

carry the paper along. Old Chicagoans remember THE “EVENING JOURNAL," CHICAGO'S VETERAN.

him as a facile and pungent writer. Though crippled

for life by the premature discharge of a cannon on The Chicago Evening Journal is the veteran of the the occasion of a celebration of the victory of Buena Chicago newspaper forces. Founded upon the ruins Vista, he carried on his newspaper work, dying in the of two predecessors—the Chicago American and the harness in 1856. His brother, Charles L. Wilson, Express-it first saw the light in April of 1844, ten succeeded to the ownership of the Evening Journal. years before the establishment of the Chicago Times With him were associated Andrew Shuman, in later and three before that of the Tribune. Since its estab- years Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois ; George P. Uplishment, despite the vicissitudes of its early days, ton, now of the Chicago Tribune ; Horace White and it has never missed a regular day of issue, even exceli- Benjamin F. Taylor, known as a poet and an entering all its contemporaries by publishing a paper on the taining writer of books of travel. Andrew Shuman day of the great fire. It has been always a consistent was perhaps the strongest character ever connected Republican newspaper, and has been exceptionally with the paper. Coining from New York State with fortunate in having had during alınost all of its the warm recommendations of Thurlow Weed to career some man of vigorous personality and fixed smooth his path, he quickly made himself master of convictions for its editor-in-chief. It was established, the political situation in Illinois and conferred upon like most of the early Chicago newspapers, for political the Journal an influence in political affairs not often ends only, owing its existence partly to the zeal of a enjoyed by afternoon newspapers. He was an able few Chicagoans in the service of Henry Clay and writer and a careful editor, while his political acumen partly to the desire of J. Young Scammon for a made him a trusted leader of the Republican party newspaper in which to carry on his perpetual warfare in Ilinois. He died suddenly in 1889 while still asso

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »