History of Oregon Newspapers/Trail of the Reporters
TRAIL OF THE REPORTERS
AS INDICATED elsewhere, actual objective reporting of news was in its infancy in Oregon in the 50's; and in what little local writing was done the emphasis was heavily political.
When the Weekly Oregonian boasted of having employed P. J. (Pat) Malone, recently arrived from California, to provide a shorthand report of the territorial legislature, the scornful Statesman of Salem insisted that the Oregonian's report was no better than theirs. Neither one had the space to make any very effective use of shorthand reporting; and a glimpse of Mr. Malone's shorthand reports indicates a considerable degree of boiling down into indirect quotes. This, however, helps to classify Malone as an actual reporter with some gift of editorial selectivity, rather than a mechanical stenographer.
When newspapers were giving as little as one column out of 28 or 32 columns of their space to local items, it didn't, perhaps, make much difference who was doing the local reporting; and the local reporter almost invariably went nameless and unsung.
Contemporaries of Malone seem to have paid less attention to him as a reporter than as an editor.
There were no "by-lines" (by Watt A. Newshound) for anyone in the 50's. For that matter, they were few and far between until the days of the bigger papers, and linotypes, and fast presses, and cheap paper—the days of the 90's. The Spanish War period brought in the by-line writers with a grand rush. But we are thinking now of those days of the Civil War period.
When George Himes arrived from Olympia in 1864 to become a compositor on the Oregonian, D. C. Ireland already had begun a career of close to half a century in Oregon journalism and was doing a combination job of reporting in the afternoon and setting up his gleanings in type at night.
DeWitt Clinton (better known as D. C.) Ireland was one of Portland's earliest regular reporters of local news. He was a contemporary and associate of several of the big men of nineteenth century journalism, including Horace Greeley and Harvey Scott.
Ireland's method was to pick up the market news and other local matter along the street and set it up in type from his notes, without transcribing them. Ireland was working for the Oregonian when Harvey Scott came on as editor in 1865 and stayed for some months later. One year (1865) Ireland covered the legislature, at Salem, for the paper. The next year he went up the river to Oregon City and started the Enterprise.
In the Oregon Daily Herald, published in Portland, under date of April 20, 1866, occurs a brief account of an attack by A. M. Burns, master of the steamship Orizaba, on "D. C. Ireland, Esq., local reporter of the Oregonian, on Couch's wharf." An item the next day in the same paper told of a fine of $50 and costs paid by the reporter's assailant, who had resented some uncomplimentary personal references in the paper.
Another Oregonian printer who furnished items for the paper in addition to "sticking type" at the case was John F. Damon, wellread, highly educated, who had set up the works of Emerson and other writers of the Concord group in a New England publishing house. Mr. Himes says nothing of the quality of the news turned in by Damon but recalls him as one of the best printers he ever saw at work. Damon, who later moved to Seattle and became more widely known as "the marrying parson" than he had ever been in journalism, used to set four columns of the old 9-point in which much of the news was set, without making a single error. This 9-point was known as Bourgeois (pronounced Burjoice, not Boor-zhwa.)
An editor under whom Ireland worked while reporting-though in those days reporters were pretty much self-starters and "city editing" was not well developed-was Amory Holbrook. When Holbrook quit in 1864, Damon asked and received permission to do some of the editorial writing. (1).
Getting back to reporters, the next newsgatherer on the Oregonian after Ireland was C. P. Crandall, who had been doing some special writing on the Oregon Statesman for Asahel Bush. Bush had printed the Oregon Archives, which L. F. Grover had been appointed by the legislature to prepare for publication, but the main body of this work was done by Mr. Crandall, who had come to Oregon in 1852.
Another Oregonian reporter of the mid-sixties was U. E. Hicks, one of two Oregon men (the other was D. V. Craig) who taught the young Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) to set type in a Hannibal (Mo.) newspaper office.
Neither Crandall nor Hicks left any particular impress on the Oregonian. Crandall is better known in connection with Salem papers.
By 1869 the name of John M. Baltimore appeared in the Portland city directory as local editor of the Evening Commercial—which means, probably, that he was on that job in '68. After a year spent as a partner in West & Co., a firm of collectors and real estate agents Baltimore, in 1872, went to the Oregonian as a reporter. For the next eight years he was in charge of what local reporting was done on the Oregonian. He could be called "city editor." (2).
On returning to Portland from San Francisco after two years, he became city editor of the Telegram, a position he held for three or four years. For a time he was dramatic critic on the Oregonian and the Telegram.
During part of his absence from the Oregonian, Newman J. (Joe) Levinson was city editor. When Joe left the paper to become a publisher in Fresno, California, the competent but not too amiable Sam R. Frazier was appointed city editor. It was not long until dif ferences arose between Frazier and his staff, composed of E. L. (Jerry) Coldwell, then launched on his long and brilliant career as Oregonian reporter, and J. M. Baltimore.
So, in 1888, Baltimore again became city editor of the Oregonian, and Frazier was sent into Washington as a traveling correspondent. Ernest Bross, later editor of the Indianapolis Star, was managing editor. Coldwell, who was to continue for nearly a score of years on the paper, having already served nearly six, was a reporter, as was Bailey Avery, who later carved out a successful career in theatrical work in the East; Leander H. Wells, a third reporter, had a beat extending from the Willamette to Mount Hood and from the Clackamas river to the Columbia; Melvin G. Winstock, later to be prominent as theatrical manager in the Northwest, was reporting, and Henry E. Reed had won his way to the staff from the News by scooping the Oregonian on a big bit of hotel news—the visit of Thomas B. Reed, of Maine, then speaker of the House, and Congressman R. R. Hitt, chairman of the House committee on naval affairs—and was doing sports and general assignments. Baltimore was regarded by Reed (3) as a "writer of the old school, which has all but disappeared by this time (1912)—a flowery writer, who delighted in adjectives and adverbs." Once during his vacation, Mr. Reed relates in the same article, he sent in a story from Long Beach, Wash., in his usual style and with a headline written. One line of the head, "Down by the Sounding Sea," didn't fit the space, and W. M. Davey, who preceded C. A. Morden as head of the mechanical department, filled it out with the words "There's Where the Tide Comes In." This was expected by the staff to upset the city editor, but he "crossed them up" by enjoying it and complimenting Davey. (4).
When taking a drink, as the boys in those days occasionally did, Baltimore had a way of saying, ceremonially, "We will now bite the tail of the adder." On his death the paper said, editorially, he was "not brilliant" but "dependable." (Jan. 10, 1912.)
Newspaper work had a less pressing routine in those days, with no early mails to catch, but the working day was longer. Oregonian reporters came in to write their stuff at 7 p. m., and the city editor at 7:30. At 8:30, as Mr. Reed recalls (5), Mr. Scott, after reading his proof, would drop in for a chat. Reporters and telegraph staff would take an hour for supper, beginning at 10 o'clock. Reporters continued writing until midnight or as late as 2:30 a. m.
Baltimore was succeeded as city editor in 1891 by Alfred Sorenson, who continued until Edgar B. Piper took hold in 1894. Sorenson after leaving the Oregonian became proprietor of the Omaha (Neb.) Daily Examiner. Baltimore, when superseded as city editor, became special writer and dramatic critic, where he had more frequent use for a thesaurusful of adjectives, on the Telegram. He left Portland for Oakland in 1896.
Mr. Levinson was probably the first city editor in Oregon who had the responsibility of directing one or more reporters. Up to his time "city editor" had been a sort of courtesy title. He was first on the job in 1879. His brother Louis and later Allan Slauson, John M. Baltimore, and E. L. (Jerry) Coldwell were among Joe's earliest reporters. Slauson, who succeeded Louis Levinson on the local staff in 1882, had come on the paper as a printer a few months before, depositing his card from the Denver union. Slauson was Joe's sole assistant on the local side of the paper. (16). He had done reporting on the Republican, Tribune, and Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
Jerry Coldwell, who was one of Slauson's competing reporters, working on the Daily Standard, for Tony Noltner, was added to the Oregonian staff. Slauson and Coldwell had been friendly rivals, often going down the street side by side on their way to their respective news sources, and it was on Slauson's suggestion that Coldwell was taken on the paper when an opening came.
The Sunday Welcome gave Slauson credit for good work, saying that the Oregonian had improved somewhat since the "Colorado curiosity" had begun unbottling his wit and humor. Slauson had a column of human interest stories entitled "Willamette Wavelets," signed Porthos.
One of this old-timer's prized recollections deals with a libel suit based on one of his news stories, although he had been well trained in libel law in Colorado, where the need appeared to be greater than in the rather more peaceful Portland. A rather well-known waterfront character, whom we shall not name here, was notorious for shanghai-ing sailors for Portland's foreign carriers. Alan wrote a story about the situation which was generally regarded as safe, except for the heading. City Editor Joe Levinson, who used to edit the local copy and write what heads there were, had entitled this one "T———'s Nefarious Trade." The case was settled out of court.
In 1894 Slauson went back to Washington, D. C., and after four years took a position in the library of congress, taking over the periodical division at the time when the new librarian, John Russell, a former newspaper man of Philadelphia, established the various divisions more or less as they are today. Back in Portland for his wife's health in 1905, Mr. Slauson, after a few years in life insurance and real estate, returned to the Oregonian in 1917 when the war began to drain the paper of its young man power.
Coldwell was a native of Nova Scotia, born in Gaspereau, July 1, 1839, and educated in Horton academy, Wolfville, N. S. He came to Oregon from California on a lumber schooner in 1870, and, liking it here, went to work in A. G. Walling's printing office (7). Having learned the trade, he went on the Bulletin as pressman and, in 1874, worked in the state printing office at Salem. In 1879 he was working as pressman on the Bee.
It is a rather general view that reporting is a "young man's game" and that it ought not to "begin at 40." In Coldwell's case he never became a regular reporter until 1881, or in his 42nd year, and from then on newsgathering was his life; and when a Portland old-timer thinks of reporters, Coldwell is among the first to come to his mind. He started his reporting at a time when most people are beginning to feel rather restless at it and casting longing eyes, perhaps, at the copy desk, and he remained at it, always on the Oregonian, for 25 years, retiring only when physical ills compelled it, and dying two years later, in 1908.
Harvey Scott, his editor, spoke of the quaintness, humanity, and gentle humor of Coldwell's writing. Joe Levinson, for years his city editor, called him the "best all-around reporter I ever knew" and spoke of his philosophy and humor. "Whenever he learned a fact,'" said Joe, "he felt it his duty to impart his information to mankind." Scott and Levinson really were giving the definition of the good reporter.
One of Mr. Slauson's odd experiences recalls the Governor Pennoyer-President Cleveland feud of the 90's. In 1894, when Slauson went back to Washington from the Oregonian, he ate, on the eve of his departure, a Thanksgiving dinner in Portland on the day set apart by Governor Pennoyer, who chose to ignore the President's designation of the regular day. Then, on his arrival in Washington, the ex-Oregonian sat down to another Thanksgiving dinner on the day regularly set apart by the President.
John M. Lownsdale, another Oregonian old-timer, dating back to 1890, recalls some of his interesting contemporaries of those early days. The staff was building up a bit. Baltimore was city editor, directing as reporters Jerry Coldwell, Max Shillock, Ernest Bross, Henry E. Reed, and John Lownsdale. Lownsdale (8), who had spent a year on the Telegram, where he succeeded W. M. (Billy) Sheffield on the local side, had night police for his first beat on the Oregonian. This was a far cry from the market stuff he had been doing for so many years; but soon he was doing markets as well as marine, court house, and a few other odds and ends in a Portland whose population was still far under 100,000. An old-timer who had left not long be fore Lownsdale's arrival on the paper was Robert C. Johnson, kinsman of President Johnson of the University of Oregon. Johnson, who spent a lifetime in newspaper work, died in 1936 while a member of the staff of the Oregon Journal. In his last few years he produced a book on John McLoughlin, Patriarch of the Northwest, which, critics said, showed careful research as well as interesting writing.
The Oregonian's present quarters were in course of construction during Lownsdale's first year on the paper. The old office was still at Front and Stark, the first location, though not, of course, in Dryer's original little frame building. The quarters were small, and the reporters had little elbow-room. Jerry Coldwell brought in the first typewriter, one of those Hammond affairs, and Allan Slauson soon followed suit. In those days the Associated Press report was taken by the operators in longhand on flimsies (thin "onionskin" paper), and Lownsdale recalls that President Cleveland's long messages were taken over the wire by hand.
When Joe Macqueen came on the Oregonian in 1900, Joe Levinson was city editor again after a few years' absence in the 90's as managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, founder of the San Bernardino Sun, and owner of the Fresno (Calif.) Herald.
James J. Montague, later a New York columnist of national fame, who had come to the paper in 1896, was assistant city editor doing a frequent feature. He went to Hearst with his "More Truth Than Poetry" feature in 1901. Macqueen, like most of the old-timers, started on police and in 1902 added music to his reporting duties, succeeding Gertrude L. Metcalfe on the music end. John Lownsdale was news editor, and John L. Travis northwest editor, launched on a long career during which he was news editor of the Oregon Journal, managing editor of the Seattle Times, the Portland Telegram (for a short time before it was taken over by the News). Clarke Leiter, later city editor of the Oregonian, publisher of the La Grande Observer, and managing editor of the Portland Telegram, was one of the reporters, as was Jerry Noonan. Coldwell, of course, was still reporting. John Milliken was reporting courts. Leslie M. Scott was doing reporting and a bit of editorial; Henry E. Reed and his brother Joseph, who soon went to California, were regular reporters. The staff was beginning to grow to modern dimensions. W. J. (Uncle Bill) Cuddy was proof-reader and exchange editor. His career on the Oregonian continued until his death in 1925. Edgar B. Piper, who was to succeed Harvey Scott in eight years as editor of the paper, was city editor in 1902, on his return from Seattle, where he and his brother George had spent a few years publishing the Post-Intelligencer.
John R. Rathom, later publisher of the Providence Journal and one of the best of the "German spy" detectors in the World war period, was an Oregonian reporter in 1891.
Reporters up to 1905 included H. S. Harcourt, R. D. Cannon, later for many years a news executive on the Telegram; W. D. B. Dodson, now Portland Chamber of Commerce executive vice-president; J. W. Redington, picturesque Indian scout and prominent Oregon country editor; C. N. (Pat) McArthur, later congressman; Lewis A. McArthur, utility executive and authority on Oregon history; B. F. Lawrence, George Maxwell, James Crawford, Dave Larimer, later prominent political writer in Spokane, and D. C. Free man, who became head of the Associated Oregon Industries, the position now held by former Mayor George L. Baker of Portland.
Bailey Avery was one of the earliest, perhaps the first, of Portland society editors. Male society editors were the rule in those days. He later became prominent in theatricals and retired from journalism.
Among the many memorable achievements of Henry E. Reed was his introduction ofto the business of newspaper cartooning, in which he was to achieve world-wide fame. Reed, as a reporter, took the young Davenport in tow (in 1889) and had him make a sketch for the Oregonian of R. P. Earhart; this was Davenport's first newspaper picture.
The first artist on the Oregonian staff, however, was Edgar Felloes, in 1889, and his medium was the chalk plate, obsolete these many years. Later artists were F. A. Rutledge and Joe Carll. Lute Pease and Harry Murphy, early cartoonists, both got their start on the Oregonian and went east.
Wexford Jones was writing a clever comment column about 1905. Joseph D. McArdle was reporting about that time, and James C. Bangs was combining market reporting with a bit of dramatic criticism.
When Edgar B. Piper was city editor the first time, 1894 to 1897, succeeding Alfred Sorenson, who had taken over the position from John M. Baltimore in 1891, his successor was Joe Levinson, with O. Clarke Leiter as his assistant. Leiter became city editor in 1904 and appointed Horace E. Thomas, reporter, his assistant, and in 1913 Thomas succeeded him as city editor, remaining with the Oregonian, successively as city editor, executive news editor, and associate editor until 1931, when he went to Marysville, Calif., as co-publisher of the Appeal-Democrat, daily newspaper. He is now (1939) publisher.
Around the "turn of the century" a good many members came to the Oregonian staff who were to remain for a good many years. W. E. (Bill) Mahoney, who died on the job as marine editor in 1932, came to the paper in 1898. Lawrence K. Hodges, telegraph editor and editorial writer, came in 1902, as did John W. Kelly, ace political writer and Washington correspondent in later years.
The staff of the Oregonian in 1910 included (10) H. L. Pittock, manager (Editor Harvey Scott died in August); assistant manager, C. A. Morden; managing editor, Edgar B. Piper; city editor, O. C. Leiter; Sunday editor, N. J. Levinson; night editor, Paul R. Kelty, who later became editor; weekly editor, W. J. Cuddy; telegraph editor, L. K. Hodges; market editor, J. M. Lownsdale; advertising manager, W. J. Hofmann; circulation manager, A. K. Slocum.
Ben Hur Lampman, who would be rated at or near the very top of Oregonian writers in all-around versatility and skill, did not come to the paper until 191 6. R. G. Callvert, later managing editor and associate editor, was then but a short time on the staff; Walter W. R. May, who held several executive posts in both news and business departments, was yet to appear on the scene. Most of the present writers and executives have not yet been much longer than ten years on the paper.
In the business and mechanical department those listed among the old-timers in the 75th anniversary number (1925) included C. A. Morden, manager, who had been on the paper since 1881; David Foulkes, mechanical superintendent, 1887; E. D. Denny, mailer, 1890; H. W. Dewey, foreman stereotyper, 1892; Thomas Milburn, financial advertising, 1894; Nahum Easterbrooks, proof-corrector, 1894; E. B. Piper, editor, 1895; AI Faust, engraver, 1896; Alice Cornwall, bookkeeper, 1898; Ray Clark, makeup, 1898; A. C. Phelps, stereotyper, 1898; W. E. Hartmus, business manager, 1899; A. W. Cochran, plant engineer, 1899; Eric Anderson, engraver, 1899; George A. Flora, foreman, 1900; Thomas Gibson, foreman of the ad department, 1900; Edward Carney, makeup, 1900; Helen Milburn, cashier, 1900. Many of those mentioned are still with the paper.
One of the earliest editorial writers was old Lucius Bigelow, Civil war veteran, picturesque figure, who liked to write editorials about battles and generals but who never would accept a pension, explain ing that he was paid for his services in the war and now had a fairly comfortable salary. He was a fat old Vermonter who, in the memory of such old-timers as Henry E. Reed and Allan Slauson, smoked stogies habitually and kept old papers piled around him, leaving a place on his desk for work not much bigger than Bill Cuddy was reduced to in his last years of non-desk-cleaning.
The brilliance of Mr. Bigelow's writing is attested by Alfred Holman, Harvey W. Scott's oldest editorial associate.
Mr. Holman himself was with the Oregonian almost steadily through the years from 1869 until his departure for San Francisco to become editor of the Argonaut in 1903.
Ernest Bross, who began as a reporter, as noted, also became an editorial writer, finally leaving Portland for Indianapolis, where he became editor of the Star.
All three of these men were among the most brilliant of all the contributors to the Oregonian's editorial page since the beginning.
To M. F. ("Fatty") Blake, reporter for the Northwest News in 1883 and the Telegram in 1884, Henry E. Reed awards the palm for sheer nerve. After crediting him with being pre-eminently indefatigable and ubiquitous, Mr. Reed goes on to illustrate the "nerve" of this newsgatherer who went from the Telegram to the New York Herald in 1884. "A stunt that forever distinguished him," wrote Mr. Reed in the Portland Telegram's semi-centennial number, "was his getting into the carriage with the widow and interviewing her about the mysterious death of her husband, while on the way to the cemetery."
Francis D. Cusick, broken in by Mr. Reed as a reporter on the old News, later became city editor of the Chicago Daily News.
John Barrett, city editor of the Telegram during the Moffett regime, later became the first of a series of Oregon newspaper men to become minister to Siam and later for several years was head of the Bureau of American Republics. Mr. Barrett was on the Telegram for four years, from 1890 to 1894, leaving in the latter year to take the diplomatic post at Bangkok. Barrett, a Dartmouth graduate, class of 1889, had done newspaper work on the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle after an unsatisfactory experience teaching in the Hopkins academy at Oakland. Some of his contacts there were M. H. De Young, publisher of the Chronicle; and John P. Young, able editorial writer, who remained on the Chronicle until his death nearly 40 years later; Senator George Hearst and Mrs. Hearst and the young William R. Hearst; and James D. Phelan, later United States senator. Encouraged by them to continue in journalism the young Barrett soon came north at the invitation of J. J. Halloran, publisher of the Daily Astorian, to write boom articles for Astoria. After doing similar work in Seattle and Tacoma, under Leigh S. J. Hunt, noted owner of the Post-Intelligencer, and Will H. Parry, his city editor, who had been the founder of the Salem Capital Journal a few years earlier, and under R. F. Radebaugh, publisher of the Tacoma Ledger, Mr. Barrett came on to Portland at the personal written solicitation of Harvey W. Scott and Henry L. Pittock, who owned the Telegram. Pittock and Scott about this time had decided to put new life into the Telegram and cease the mere lifting of matter from the Oregonian; the evening paper was to be a live, newsy Democratic newspaper, up to 16 pages in size. In the conference at which this decision was made, besides Mr. Scott and Mr. Pittock, were George H. Moffett, who was to direct the paper; C. A. Morden, head of the joint composing-room of the two papers, and later Mr. Pittock's successor as manager; and Mr. Barrett, who became city editor. City editors in those days, in towns of the size of Portland, had considerable reporting to do.
"The best all-around reporter that we had," wrote Mr. Barrett in the Telegram's semi-centennial number, "was Frank D. Cusick. He could interview a great preacher or a murderer, a society woman or a demi-mondaine, a visiting statesman or a thief, with equal ease! He could describe a serious state convention, a murder trial, a church gathering, and a meeting of saloonkeepers with equal facility. And, oh, how he could write! I envied him. His pen and words flowed like water down hill, and no task was too big for him. If there were a few "sticks" to be rilled in at the last moment, on hurry-up call from the composing room, he always had something that he could prepare."
The Telegram's society reporter under John Barrett as city editor was "the unique Victor Lewis." He is credited by Barrett with having had "an imagination that could soar like a Zeppelin airship" and with developing "the first real society column or section that Portland recognized as such." In Barrett's opinion he surpassed Freddie Gilmore of the Oregonian. Lewis's articles on Portland's eligible spinsters and bachelors created, wrote Barrett, "both a sensation and a panic in society! I was kept busy answering queries from those under these classifications as to why they were included or excluded. I always referred them to Lewis, with the result that he barely escaped battles of fisticuffs with bachelors or having his hair pulled by spinsters. Finally Mr. Moffett said I had better stop those articles because all the young men and women friends of his wife and daughters were beseeching them to use their influence that they should be left out or included, as the case might be. Lewis nearly cried when I told him that he must stop and try something else to make his column popular or unpopular."
Mr. Barrett paid a tribute to Otto Greenhood, "the whole thing or push on the Telegram" before its reorganization under Moffett. Greenhood had had full charge of the local news. He was, as Barrett describes him, a most picturesque character: Tall, slender, almost of bone-showing thinness, with a face of patronizing dignity, dominated by an immense nose and crowned with grayish hair, illuminated by big blue eyes and finding expression through a mouth that had a peculiar quirk, dressed always immaculately, and usually wearing a high hat and spats, carrying a cane, he strode about Portland like a king, and was known to everybody from the newspaper urchins to the greatest bankers and society women." This odd newspaper figure, Barrett wrote, was "always helping those in distress, even to the extent of eliminating his meals at the end of the month when his salary payment for the last month was exhausted."
Edward Lathrop (Jerry) Coldwell goes into Barrett's record as "the one great historic reporter of the Oregonian." What Scott and Pittock were to the editorial and business departments, Coldwell, 25 years on the Oregonian, was, in the opinion of many, in the news department. "As he went daily from city hall to post office, the county court building, and to the various political and business headquarters, he was the living embodiment of the Oregonian walking about," Barrett wrote. "Somewhat tall and portly, always carrying an umbrella in his hand, he might easily have been mistaken for the owner rather than the chief reporter of the Oregonian. I believe that he knew in those days every man, woman, and child in the entire city and a good part of the population of Oregon. His regular column or columns in the Oregonian were sacred to him. Even Mr. Scott and Mr. Pittock hesitated to put in them any item of a news character without consulting him."
Celebrities interviewed by Barrett while on the Telegram included Sarah Bernhardt, who upset the conservative New Englander with a resounding smack and an embrace that made him blush; Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving, Mary Anderson, Sol Smith Russell, James J. Hill, Vice-President Stevenson.
On the Evening Standard, which was slowly dying in the early 80's, were Anthony Noltner, editor; J. B. Fithian, Sidney Dall, and John Milliken as reporters.
Members of the Northwest News editorial staff after 1883 included, as Mr. Reed recalls them, Adam S. Collins (for a short time); Sam Connell, who became a manufacturer and banker; Frank D. Cusick; Henry S. McGowan, later to become active and prominent in salmon fishing and canning; A. A. Ritchie, and Samuel R Frazier. John G. Egan, who started as foreman of the News, later became city editor. He and his brother Martin were famous reporters. Jack Egan later became connected with the firm of J. P. Morgan & Co. in New York. Another reporter on the News was Herbert S. Johnson, son of J. W. Johnson, first president of the University of Oregon and himself one of the early graduates (class of 1887).
After several years' absence as clerk of the circuit court and in private real estate business, Reed returned to the Oregonian, doing special work, December 1, 1896, remaining until October 1, 1901, at which time he was assistant city editor under N. J. Levinson.
On the Telegram during this period were Paul and Carl Kelty. Paul R. Kelty later was editor of the Oregonian, the position so long held by his uncle, Harvey W. Scott, for seven years. Carl Kelty is a financial broker in Los Angeles.
EVOLUTION OF NEWSWRITING
If the reporting and newswriting on early Oregon newspapers seems incomplete and formless, this need not be attributed entirely to inexperience of personnel or to pioneer environment.
The Oregon papers were not lagging far behind those of the eastern states in their newswriting technique. Twentieth century readers are so accustomed to having their news given them in the first sentence or the first paragraph that it is hard for them to realize that this manner of putting-the-best-foot-forward in the "lead" and thus "selling the story to the reader" has not always been the American style. The change has come gradually. Certainly it was not here when the Morning Oregonian began publication in 1861.
At the time of the founding of the Oregonian, in 1850, the New York Herald was in its eighteenth year. It was a four-page paper, with six 15-em (2½-inch) columns to the page. (Of the 24 columns, 11 were occupied by advertising, some of it of the most objectionable kind, most of it, however, the general run of retail store advertising.) News still was largely a rewriting of what the papers brought in on the steamers from Europe.
The kind of newswriting which was serving as a model for early western reporters is indicated in the amateurish, chronological telling of a fire story in the Herald of April 11, 1851:
Tremendous Conflagration—Great Destruction of Property, &c.
About one o'clock this morning a disastrous fire broke out in the store No. 180 Broadway, occupied by Messrs. Hudson & Robertson, which spread with such rapidity that in a comparatively short time the whole building was in flames. The firemen, with their usual promptitude, were on the spot as soon as the alarm was rung, but notwithstanding their vigorous efforts, the flames got ahead of them. The next store being Cooper's gun and pistol shop, the firemen entered it for the purpose of removing any gun-powder that might be contained therein. On investigation they found only twenty pounds of that dangerous article which was contained in tin kegs. As soon as this was removed, they commenced playing upon the Howard House, which was in imminent danger, and which, it was seen, would soon become a prey to the fire, if the flames, which were then favored by the wind in that direction, proceeded much further. Soon it was discovered that the adjoining building, Howard's Hotel, was in flames, and the boarders therein took the alarm. Boxes, trunks, band boxes, and other articles, were immediately hurried out; and as usual in such cases, more damage was caused by the breakage than by the fire. The terror of the inmates was extreme; and the consequence was, the usual amount of breakage. The powder, however, having been taken from Cooper's store, the firemen felt no apprehension of danger. They worked like beavers in com bating the flames; but the fire, notwithstanding their exertions, got ahead of them; and it was not until the rear portion of the building in which it originated fell, that they were able to control the fierce element.
At about 2 o'clock the house next the corner of John street fell with a most awful crash, and the thousands that congregated in Broadway in front of the burning edifices, rushed away with screams which affrighted the whole crowd; but whether anyone has been buried beneath the ruins, we have not yet ascertained.
An efficient police force was in attendance during the fire, who maintained order, and enabled the firemen to per form their arduous duties.
Our reporter was not enabled to learn whether the stores destroyed were insured or not. The Howard Hotel was saved, although the building sustained serious injury. As soon as it was discovered by the inmates of that hotel that the whole building was in no danger of being destroyed, they hastened to bring in their property as expeditiously as they took it out on the first alarm. Many of them being strangers to New York did not know but that the hotel would be wholly destroyed. Besides the store in which the fire originated, the next house, occupied by J. D. Chevalier, on the corner of John street and Broadway, and No. 4 John street, occupied by Mr. Bambridge, engraver.
At the time of our going to press, the flames were nearly subdued and no further damage was apprehended.
The New York Weekly Tribune of May 26, 1860, telling the story of Abraham Lincoln's nomination, put the fact of the nomination in the second division of the heading, under the top line label "The Chicago Convention" and ran the nomination, in which the Tribune's editor, Horace Greeley, had had a prominent part as a proxy delegate from Oregon, buried deep, taking its chronological place under the head of Third Day's Proceedings.
Another example: When Japan, in 1860, sent its first ambassador to the United States (it had been only a few years since Commodore Perry had persuaded Japan to mix with the rest of the world), the Tribune gave nearly two whole pages to the event. The heads were labels, and the whole account was chronological.
Important city business transacted by the New York board of aldermen was regularly run in chronological sequence. For instance, in the Tribune of December 21, 1860, such an article begins with the paragraph:
A regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen was held last evening, President Peck in the chair.
Then, several paragraphs down:
Mr. Boole offered a resolution that a committee of three from the Board of Aldermen, and a committee consisting of the same number from the Board of Councilmen be appointed to confer with a committee from the Board of Supervisors to take into consideration the erection in the Park of suitable buildings for Courts. Laid over.
It is easy to imagine what a modern reporter would have done with as important a matter as a proposition to erect "suitable buildings for courts."
A big news story in the New York Herald of July 22, 1859, about the erection of a "New Monster Hotel in Fifth Avenue" contains a pioneer description of the newly-invented elevator, the work of Otis Tufts, of Boston. The reporter, none too sure that the new contraption, the "vertical railway," is feasible, allows some doubt to creep into his description:
One novel feature of this hotel is, that it will contain a vertical railway; that is, a carriage will move from the top to the bottom of the building, and from bottom to top. It will be forced upwards by the application of steam power, and the descent will be regulated by the assistance of hydraulic power, so as to guard against accidents. The car will be attached to a shaft, which, being turned by steam, will cause the car to proceed upwards, by means of a screw, or on the principle of an inclined plane. The car stops at each floor, and passengers are landed, and others taken in In the same way, in making the descent, it stops at each floor. It is stated that there be contrivances at each of these landings to prevent accidents. We should think something very effectual would be wanted to make this arrangement safe. The inventor is Mr. Otis Tufts, of Boston, who, suffering from the commercial convulsion, turned his attention to mechanical studies. In his case necessity was the mother of invention. The design is to equalize the stories in the building and make the sixth as desirable as the second or third.
Behind the vertical railway is a baggage elevator, moved by the same power. The object of this is obviously to save the necessity of taking trunks up and down the stairs—a great convenience.
The bigger the event, apparently, the more determined were the news writers of the 50's and 6o's to sneak up on it chronologically and get it moving with the minimum of jar or excitement-like a skillful locomotive engineer starting his train so gently as not to clink the dishes in the dining car. One of the big news stories of the whole '50-'60 decade was John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859. Here is the way the New York Weekly Tribune started this story in its issue of October 22, 1859:
Old John Brown, of Kansas fame, has incited an insurrection at Harper's Ferry. With 21 men he took possession of the United States arsenal at that place, last Sun day evening, and held it against the forces of Maryland and Virginia, until Tuesday morning, when it was stormed by United States marines.
The second section of the headline had read: "Old John Brown Shot." This important and interesting part of the story is not mentioned in the first thousand words. Instead the reporter goes on to sketch in the whole background before telling the news of the day.
This is how Horace Greeley's Tribune was telling murder stories in 1859, as indicated by an example from the issue of January 6 of that year;
Terrible Tragedy in Sullivan Street
A Spaniard Murders His Father-in-Law
He Stabs His Wife and Her Mother
Jealousy the Cause-Escape of the Murderer
Under the heading, which occupied an inch of space, the lead started out thus:
This (Thursday) morning, about 22 o'clock, a deliberate and cold-blooded murder was committed in the rear of premises No. 154 Sullivan street, Harmon Curnon, a colored man, being stabbed to death by Felix Sanchez, his son-in-law. Some seven weeks ago, Sanchez, who is a good looking young Spaniard, married Mary Jane Curnon, a sprightly colored girl, and latterly the newly-married couple boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Curnon at the above number. Sanchez, who is represented as an extremely vicious fellow, without cause became jealous of his wife, and a day or two since threatened to take her life.
Then follows the account of the actual killing, and the article ends:
Then . . . Captain Turnbull subsequently deputed Officers Baldwin and Wisebury to search for Sanchez, and the officials searched his old haunts, but without success. . . . It is believed the murderer will soon be taken. . . . Mfr. Curnon was a very respectable and industrious man.
The following article, published in the Oregon Statesman June 1, 1852, is apparently a fair average of the Oregon newswriting of that day:
Murder and Execution on Rogue River.
A murder was committed at Jacksonville, a small mining village on Rogue river, on the 2d of May, under the following circumstances: A young man named J. C. Piatt, slightly under the influence of liquor, challenged any person to run a footrace with him. Several bystanders selected a man of the name of Robert Maynard, who went by the name of Brown, to accept the challenge. Piatt said he was no kind of a man, and that he would not run with him; that he could beat him at anything—fighting or anything else; and that if he ran, he wanted to run against a man. Brown said he was insulted, and that he would shoot Piatt. He borrowed a revolver, and afterwards meeting Piatt in the street, told him that he had insulted him. Piatt denied having done so, but said that if Brown was disposed to "take it up," he could do so, at the same time taking off his coat for a fight. Hard words passed between them; Piatt said Brown was a liar and a thief; Brown forbade him repeating it; the language was repeated, whereupon Brown drew his revolver and shot him through the left breast. Piatt exclaimed, "the damn scoundrel has shot me—arrest him," and fell. He lived but three minutes. Brown was taken into custody, and on the following Tuesday tried. A judge and prosecuting attorney were appointed, and a jury summoned, and a fair trial given him.
He was defended by D. B. Brenan, of Portland. An auctioneer, known by the name of "Tom Hyer," acted as prosecuting attorney. The trial lasted twelve hours, when the jury retired and after deliberating an hour and a half, returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. Brown was heavily ironed, and a guard of eight men placed around him. It was moved that he be allowed three weeks to "make his peace with God." The crowd rejected this motion by a large majority. It was then moved that he be allowed three days to prepare for the change, which motion prevailed. Accordingly on Saturday the 8th, he was taken on a cart about one mile from town, where a gallows had been erected, and hanged.
He has been sometime in Oregon, and we learn spent the past winter at Marysville. He talked freely upon the gallows; said he was not sorry for what he had done, on his own account, but he was sorry to afflict his parents and brothers and sisters. He said he should be hung and buried in that grave, (pointing to a grave near by, which had been dug), and that the traveler would point to it and say there lies a man who would not be insulted. He bid the crowd "good-by," and was swung off. He stated that his relatives lived in Illinois. He was twenty-one years of age.
The Statesman, however, supplies us with examples of both the good and the bad. For example, the following (February 9, 1858):
The jail here was set on fire Friday night, and was with much difficulty saved from destruction.
Also, the following week, in the same paper:
A revival of religion is in progress at the M. E. church. Meetings are held day and evening.
These represent no advance whatever over what the little Spectator had been doing twelve years before at the very birth of newsgathering in the West.
Describing a new bridge at Lafayette, the Statesman (October 9, 1852) said, in a news-editorial:
We are gratified to learn that the bridge across the Yamhill river, at Lafayette, is completed, and in use. It is a noble structure and a much needed convenience to the public. The public-spirited citizens of Yamhill deserve great credit for the energy and determination with which they commenced and carried on the enterprise in the face of misfortunes and embarrassments. They had it nearly completed last winter, when the freshet carried off one of their large abutments; but nothing daunted they commenced the work of reconstruction, and now have it finished, and, as they say, and as we trust, beyond the reach of floods.
The date does not seem to make much difference in the quality of the newsgathering and newswriting in the Statesman of those earlier times. This excerpt from the issue of January 18, 1870, might well have come from the first issue, 19 years earlier:
Recovering.—We learn that the little boy who was so severely hurt by a horse last Sunday week, is so much better as to be considered out of danger. Mr. Farrens thinks that he was not kicked but struck by the forefoot of the animal a gentle mare. The dog was barking at the time, and it is supposed that the mare struck at him. The little fellow had a loud call, and we suppose the physicians attending him feel rather proud of their success. We hear it is more than they expected at first.
Good examples of the practice of combining news with editorial are found in the Oregonian in 1857, at the same time giving a line on the state of public order in Portland at that time."California rowdies" are blamed for disorderly conditions in Portland by Mr. Dryer in the course of a 200-word item telling of the shooting of a rioter by Marshal Holcomb in self-defense. The article concluded:
The permanent citizens of this city, and the country, will never, we trust, surrender the right of self-preservation, of property and life, to California prize-fighters, or reckless desperadoes.
Two weeks later, the Oregonian, concluding a 400-word editorial-news story on a "$3,000 Burglary," said:
There are a desperate set of thieves and burglars hanging about this city. The time has come when every citizen should protect himself by the adoption of some course which shall disperse these desperadoes, or confine them where they shall be harmless.
We submit the question, What shall be done? Let the people answer, or take the responsibility.
The story in the Oregon City Argus of April 30, 1859, of the Republican state convention held in Salem is an Oregon example of the reluctance of early-day newspapers to report a news item of any considerable size or to rewrite or boil down any news account sent in by a non-member of the staff. The usual policy of giving the facts in strict chronological order without reference to their importance and of omitting to emphasize any strong news feature in the beginning (lead) of the article is illustrated in the story, which began as follows:
Pursuant to the call of the State Central Committee, the Republican State Convention assembled at the Court House in Salem, Oregon, on Thursday, April 21, 1859, at 9 o'clock a. m.
The convention was called to order by the Hon. W. T. Matlock, chairman of the State Committee; and, on motion, Dr. H. V. V. Johnson of Washington county, was chosen temporary President, and A. A. Skinner, of Yamhill, Secretary.
A committee on credentials was appointed by the Chair, consisting of C. P. Sprague of Josephine, B. J. Pengra of Lane, W. D. Hare of Washington, Dr. Warren of Marion, and J. S. Rinearson of Clackamas. The committee, after a brief absence, made their report, which was amended and adopted as follows.
A line on what eastern papers were doing in newswriting in the 70's is obtained from the following interview, in the New York Herald, July 18, 1872, with Edward S. Stokes, just acquitted of murder after the slaying of Jim Fisk, partner of Jay Gould. The top line of the head read: "A Talk With Stokes," and the lower, section (deck) contains the statement that "He Denounces Thomas Hart as a Perjured Witness and States That He Was to Get a Thousand Dollars for His Evidence."
After a red-hot heading like that one would expect some fire works pretty early in the story, but here is the way it started.
On a hot day the Tombs Prison is not a relief to the eye. The fiery sun glaring on the granite walls reflects the heat, and it strikes the faces of the passers-by with ten-fold effect. To get into the Tombs you must apply at the entrance in Franklin street. Mark Finley, the keeper, is one of the best fellows in the world, and when a reporter calls he unbends himself and takes the visitor all around to see the sights. The lion of the Tombs just now is Edward S. Stokes. His trial, which has lasted for so many days; has made him famous, and the defense made by John McKeon has been traversed by all the journals in the land.
"Ask Mr. Finley for a ticket and then I'll bring Stokes out in the room to see you," said the good-looking and even-tempered man at the gate, who does not look like a human being who has been confined in prison walls: His face is too jolly looking for that. "You can't see him in his cell, but you can see him in the room right back here." An old man, with a white beard, went back in the prison yard to look for Stokes, and the reporter for a few moments sat down.
Stokes came out in his shirt sleeves, wearing white striped trousers. His mustache was shaved off. This made a great difference in his appearance. Stokes looked like an actor with his clean shaven face, and people who saw him said, "He looks like John Mortimer."
He shook hands with the Herald reporter and sat down to make his statement. Paper and a pencil having been produced, Stokes spoke in his peculiar manner, full of earnestness and vigor. He was in excellent spirits and talked freely.
He said, "Mr.—, there is one thing I wish to say to you. I shall not give any interview to any person but a Herald reporter. Some people come in here and say that they are reporters, and endeavor to speak to me, but still I do not desire to talk to them. I have been misrepresented so much that I have to be careful. Therefore, what I tell you is the only true statement that will be made; all the rest is false."
Having finally done full justice to himself and the Herald, the 1872 interviewer proceeds with the matter in hand. Reporter's questions include: "What is your opinion of the jury which tried you?" "What do you think of Mr. Garvin, the District Attorney?" "What do you think of Judge Ingraham?" "What have you to say in regard to the trial generally?" Stokes managed to make his answers pretty thoroughly foolproof. The overemphasis on non-essentials in the opening of the story appears obvious.
Some accident stories from the Eugene Guard, June 15, 1872, indicate some slight advance over the newswriting technique of the 50's:
Accident.—On Monday a team belonging to George Petty ran away about six miles south of town, throwing Mr. Petty out of the wagon and breaking one of his arms in three places between the elbow and shoulder. He was brought to town and his injuries attended to.
A few days since, Zimmerman & Co.'s mill team ran away, throwing the driver out of the wagon, one of the wheels of which passed over his thigh, lacerating the flesh in a horrible manner. No bones were broken.
A man named Garraty, who lives on Coast Fork, was recently kicked by a horse, his collar bone and shoulder bone being broken and other injuries inflicted.
And a little more of local "news" with the customary bit of editorial and a political dig thrown in (June 1, 1872):
"Dead-Beats"—During the past week our town has been over-run with a lot of scalawags and loafers who have no visible means of support. They are all Republicans and were brought here for the express purpose of voting the Republican ticket next Monday. Look out for them!
The 80's still saw a considerable percentage of the news stories told in the chronological order, starting right at the very beginning, whether the beginning was important or not. Here's an Oregon example, from the week-old Daily Northwest News, January 8, 1883, which the reader apparently is expected to take at one gulp:
About 6 o'clock yesterday morning when Harry Brannon, a little newsboy, was passing the Chicago Exchange, on First street near Salmon, he saw a man fall heavily upon the doorstep, where he laid [sic] motionless. The boy thought the man was drunk and passed on about his business. Shortly after Policeman Putnam found the man, and after feeling his pulse, came to the conclusion that he was dead. Coroner Cooke was notified and took charge of the remains. The dead man was found to be John P. Savage, a barber lately employed at Gumbert's shaving parlors at First and hill streets. The following gentlemen were impaneled as jurors by the Coroner: A. B. Stuart, W. J. Prout, R. M. Stuart, J. M. Coulter, R. Gambert, and R. Gabler. The first witness examined was young Brannon, who testified to seeing the man fall. Dr. W. H. Saylor, called as a medical expert, after a careful examination of the body, gave it as his opinion that the man died from natural causes. The Coroner's jury brought in a verdict in accordance with the above facts. Savage was an Irishman, unmarried and about forty years old. He came to this city nearly seven months since and entered Mr. Gumbert's employment as a barber. He had conducted himself well up to Christmas day, when he took to drinking. He continued his dissipation steadily and especially for the last week. The frequency and quantity of liquor drank [sic] by him, together with abstinence from food, so weakened his system that his spree culminated in death. He was respectably clad, and $24.50 in coin was found in his pockets. He has a brother, who is also a barber, at Gilroy, Cal. Mr. Gumbert telegraphed last night to Gilroy to find out what disposition the brother desired to have made of the body, but no answer had been received up to a late hour last night.
This is below standard in so many respects that comment seems unnecessary. Other papers were more careful, but all of them tended to go outside the record to make unnecessarily defamatory statements—usually more grammatically than this reporter succeeded in doing it.
An example of a news item told in the chatty interview form with the effect of reducing the emphasis on the information given and leaving the reader with an impression of comment after the news rather than the news itself, is this one from the Daily Northwest News of April 7, 1883:
Items From the Front.
"Yes, sir," said genial Superintendent of Construction J. L. Hallett to a News reporter yesterday. "I am through with the Clarke's Fork division of the Northern Pacific railroad now, and I discharged all my men, 5,500 in all, on the 31st ultimo. The road is finished up to and track laid over the last crossing of Pen d'Oreille."
"How many miles are there yet unfinished?"
"About 266 in all, 143 of which are on this side of the tunnel and have been graded about half that distance during the past year by contractors. In my section, or rather in the Clarke's Fork division, all but eight miles had to be ballasted. In addition to this there had to be nine miles of trestle work put up."
"That must have taken a good deal of timber," said the reporter.
"Yes, about 10,000,000 feet of cedar and tamarack."
"How about that 123 miles of road on the other side of the tunnel?"
"That is also being worked upon with all possible dispatch. You see the tunnel will be the meeting point for the two opposite forces."
"When will the whole road be finished, do you think?"
"Oh, before the end of 1883, without doubt. Good day."
This seems to be an excellent example of how reporters frequently let the readers see the wheels go around in the gathering of a news story. For publication, one would say, the reporter is overemphasized, and the reporter did not really get down to the type of information or conversation which called for so thorough-going a resort to direct discourse. Finally, if all this is news, it was deserving of more prominence, a bigger heading, and more detail. If it is not news, the reporter should have followed it up with questions that would have brought out the "features" in the wake of the news and produced a colorful story. The article apparently comes under the head of missed opportunity.
Reporting of the mid-nineties is exemplified in the Oregonian's news story of the plunge of a Milwaukie electric car into the Willamette river in November 1893.
Modern newswriting was becoming standard in Oregon at that time, and the form used in describing this disaster would pass muster today. The story is introduced, appropriately, by what has become known as the "accident" lead, characterized by the summarizing of the main facts followed by a list of the casualties. This type of lead, it is observed, has been appropriated rather heavily for other types of news besides accidents, being employed by newswriters for any article in which a list of names of reasonable length is an important detail. Here is the way the story started:Here follows the list of names and identifications. The account of the accident occupied four columns in the paper, illustrated with three line drawings—one of the plunge, one of searching for the car, one of raising it.
Portland's second street railway catastrophe within a year occurred early yesterday morning, when the electric car Inez, bound from Milwaukie to this city, plunged through the open draw of the Madison-street bridge and sank in the river. There were 18 or 20 passengers aboard when the car started to cross the bridge, and all but seven of them saved their lives by leaping from the vehicle as it dived. Five corpses have been recovered from the water, and a man and boy are missing. The dead are:
The Oregonian carried an editorial condemning the motorman for not driving with his car completely under control on a track slippery with frost, and another editorial saying a stop should be enforced before every draw, whether the draw is open or closed. "What can be said in extenuation of his stupidity and recklessness?" asked the Oregonian. A coroner's jury later censured the motorman.
While this story and the date 1893 by no means mark the final arrival of "modern" reporting and newswriting (there were many lapses before this sort of thing became standard), this type of news-narration became more and more general until the opening years of the twentieth century saw it universal in metropolitan papers and usual in all but the most formless of the smaller publications.
Development of the headline from the old days of single-line heads at tops of column and side-heads in capital and small-capital letters through much of the paper down through the age of overdisplay to the present rather medium emphasis through headlines, can be traced through Oregon papers as well as anywhere outside of the great metropolitan centers of the country. Starting at the very beginning, for Oregon, in 1846(12), Printer John Fleming on the Oregon Spectator had nothing bigger to set on any of the news items than little side-heads of caps and small caps of the body type of the paper, except for a few bold-face heads, single-line, slightly larger, over the longer items. This can be attributed not only to the scarcity of space in the little four-column paper and the lack of big news but also to the fact that it didn't seem to have occurred to anyone anywhere else to use anything bigger—so there were few if any models of real headline display.
The New York Tribune of Greeley & McElrath in 1843 was using just about the same size and style of headlines; so were some of the other papers. New York city news was running mostly under side-heads, with the eight-point capital line "City Intelligence" at the top—and, as explained elsewhere, this word intelligence was merely a synonym for news and did not mean anyone's personal IQ.
A big murder trial in New York in 1843 was headed by the Tribune. Trial of Antone Gieser (one line), or on some other days there was merely a little hanging indention of two or three lines like this:Other papers were doing the same sort of thing.
Trial of Gieser for
Murder of a Family on
Not only were these headings unemphatic typographically but they made no particular effort, apparently, for emphasis or action in their wording. The label, actionless heading, brought over with other journalistic traditions, from England, was deeply rooted in American practice, and it took two or three wars to raise excitement over news of the day to the point where screaming action appeared to be demanded.
Of recent years, indeed, the Hearst papers and some others in America, having noticed an apparent over-dependence on verbs by American headwriters, have gone part-way back to the British label style; but they are trying to get strong labels. Forceful nouns and just the right adjectives have to be selected, and it is remarkable how well most stories can get along without verbs in the headlines if the right nouns are chosen.
One noticeable point in the 19th century heads is the emphasis on the way the news was obtained. The telegraph was young, and there was the same interest in anything obtained over the wire at that time that later attached to tuning in on Mexico or Paris, regardless of how commonplace the matter carried on the radio. This phase passed, for both wire and radio.
The New York Herald began writing them bigger and blacker. Behold a 17-deck head covering the news budget brought in by the steamship Africa from Europe (these vessel arrivals were always played up big, but Europe was just completing one of its big wars, and it took 17 decks (sections) to do all this world news justice).
Under the sprightly leadership of C. S. Jackson and John F. Carroll the Oregon Journal in 1903 went into the bright red on its headlines in order to get into the black in the bookkeeper's report. Phrasing was in harmony with the coloring. The vogue never took hold in Portland and after a few years was abandoned.