Oregon Exchanges/Volume 5/Number 1
For the Newspaper Men of Oregon
BETTERING OF CONDITIONS TO BE GENERAL CONFERENCE TOPIC
IMPROVEMENT of newspaper conditions in the state of Oregon is the general theme of the Fourth Annual Newspaper Conference, to be held at the School of Journalism of the University of Oregon, January 13 and 14 next.
Information reaching Dean Eric W. Allen, in charge of the program, indicates a large attendance of those who believe that conditions in the business and profession in this state are not yet quite perfect.
Preliminary announcements sent out to the editors and publishers and others interested have given the rough outline of the program, which, as it appears now, is the most complete, comprehensive, and, it is believed, the most interesting yet offered in a newspaper conference here.
Special Meetings Called
The attraction of the Conference has been increased this time by the calling of special meetings of the Oregon State Editorial Association, the Oregon members of the Associated Press and the Oregon clients of the United Press. Virtually every phase of the newspaper publishing business will be represented in the pro gram and the attendance at the Fourth Conference. Advertising, as usual, will occupy a considerable share of the attention of those attending. Some of the leaders in the newspaper advertising field in this state, including a number of those who make a close study of advertising conditions, will discuss such topics as foreign advertising, the soliciting of advertising outside the home town, advertising plans for the future. An opportunity will be provided for all who have anything to offer on these and allied subjects to get before the Conference.
More intensive state organization for the newspapers of Oregon is another topic which will come up. A delegation from the Washington State Editorial Association will present their plan of state organization, which is warmly recommended by many Washington publishers. The plan will he described by Fred W. ("Pa") Kennedy, of the University of Washington, recognized as one of the country's best association organizers and doctors of sick newspapers. Those who know about Kennedy will want to come and hear him. Herbert J. Campbell, vice-president of the Conference, who since the last session has moved across into Vancouver, Wash., as publisher of the Daily Columbian, will be on hand with first-hand information, gained from watching Kennedy and his plan at work.
Newsprint, Libel, Ethics
The newsprint situation will be the subject of a report by George Putnam, publisher of the Salem Capital Journal.
William G. Hale, dean of the School of Law of the University, will report to the Conference his investigations into the libel law and other laws affecting newspapers.
Dean Colin V. Dyment, who was appointed by the convention of the Oregon (illegible text) has (illegible text) (illegible text) Wright (illegible text) City, editor of the (illegible text) publisher. Mr. Brown will give a forecast of the advertising situation for 1922. His qualifications for discussing this subject are recognized by those who know how closely the Editor and Publisher keeps in touch with all phases of the newspaper profession the country over.
Improving News End
The conference, however, is not to be confined to the commercial and physical features of the newspaper. Those who feel disposed to look more closely into the news and editorial end of their news papers will get a basis for discussion in the address of George P. Cheney, publisher of the Wallowa Record Chieftain. Mr. Cheney will give his opinion on what's the matter with the newspapers of Oregon from the point of view of their obligation to the reader. This is expected to be one of the most fruitful of discussion of all the addresses at the Conference. The usual entertainment features will be provided for the visitors, who, it is hoped, will include the ladies of the editors and publishers. An interesting time is promised. A committee made up of Mrs. P. L. Campbell, wife of the president of the University; Dean Elizabeth Fox, and Mrs. Eric W. Allen is making arrangements for this part of the Conference.
Banquets up to Standard
The banquet will be held Friday under the joint direction of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and the members of Sigma Delta Chi, men's honorary journalism fraternity. The luncheon Saturday noon, in which students in the School of Journalism will take a prominent part, will be in Hendricks Hall or in one of the new buildings opened since the last Conference.
The Conference sessions are to be held in the new $300,000 Memorial Hall, one of the most beautiful educational buildings in the country. Robert W. Sawyer, publisher of the Bend Bulletin, chairman of the Conference, will preside at the opening session.
The scope and interest of the program is further indicated by the names of those who, in addition to those already mentioned, will take part. These include: Ernest Gilstrap, manager Eugene Register; Paul Robinson, publisher Aurora Observer; H. L. St. Clair, editor Gresham Outlook; Hal E. Hoss, manager Oregon City Enterprise; Frank Jenkins, editor Eugene Register; Upton H. Gibbs, editor Eastern Clackamas News, and W. F. G. Thacher, professor of advertising in the University.
Following is the program in full, so far as arranged at present:
FRIDAY, JANUARY 13
10 A. M., Men's Smoking Room, Memorial Hall
Meeting of the Associated Press.
Paul Cowles, of San Francisco, Superintendent of the Western Division, presiding.
10 A. M., Women's Reception Room, Memorial Hall
Meeting of the United Press.
Frank A. Clarvoe, Northwest Manager, presiding.
FRIDAY, JANUARY(illegible text)
1:30 P. M., League Room,(illegible text)
Meeting of the Conference. Robert W. Sawyer, (illegible text)
Program: General Topic: Advertising.
Why I Solicit Advertising Outside My Town. Paul (illegible text) Aurora Observer.
Issuing Twice a Week—Its Effect Upon the Business of a Newspaper. H. L. St. Clair, Gresham Outlook.
Some Developments in Advertising in the last Year. G. Lansing Hurd, Manager of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
Essentials of Successful Advertising Work. Ernest Gilstrap, Advertising Manager of the Eugene Register.
Securing Foreign Advertising. W. R. Smith, publisher Myrtle Point American and Powers Patriot.
What the Advertising Agencies Tell Us About the Oregon Papers From Their Point of View; Letters From the Big Advertisers. W. F. G. Thacher, Professor of Advertising, University of Oregon.
General Discussion: Led by Hal E. Hoss, Oregon City Enterprise.
1:30 P. M., Alumni Hall, Memorial Building
Reception to wives of visiting Newspaper Men. Mrs. P. L. Camp bell, Dean Elizabeth Fox, Mrs. Eric W. Allen and ladies of the University.
6:30 P. M., Osburn Hotel
Banquet under auspices of Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Undergraduate students in School of Journalism directed by Sigma Delta Chi.
President P. L. Campbell, toastmaster.
Address of Weleome. L. L. Ray, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Music by Glee Club.
Advertising in 1922. James Wright Brown, editor of the Editor and Publisher, New York City.
Some Big Neglected Opportunities in Journalism as a Small-town Editor Sees Them. George P. Cheney, publisher of the Enterprise Record-Chieftain.
Newspaper Ideals. B. Frank Irvine, editor Oregon Journal, Portland.
Present Newspaper Tendencies. Edgar B. Piper, editor, Portland Oregonian.
Three-minute addresses in answer to roll call.
 (illegible text) ANUARY 14 (illegible text) A. M. (illegible text) mbined with Special Meeting of State (illegible text) called by Elbert Bede, president. (illegible text) Newspaper—What I Have Learned in Three (illegible text)country Newspaper Offices. Fred W. (“Pa”) (illegible text) ennedy, University of Washington, “doctor for sick newspapers.”
Doubling the Publisher’s Efficiency—What a Close State and District Organization Can Accomplish and How. Herbert J. Campbell, vice-president of the Conference, publisher of Vancouver Columbian.
What Happened to the Newspapers in North Dakota under the Non-Partisan League. Harry Dence, Carlton Sentinel.
The Small Weekly as I Have Found It. Upton H. Gibbs, Eastern Clackamas News, Estacada.
Running a String of Country Weeklies. Mark A. Cleveland, publisher Stanfield Standard, Boardman Mirror, and Umatilla Spokesman.
Code of Ethics. Report of Committee Appointed at Meeting of State Editorial Association last summer at Bend.
Action on Proposed Code. Elbert Bede, President of Association, in the chair.
Report on State of Newspaper Law in Oregon. Legal Code Committee, Dean W. G. Hale, University of Oregon Law School.
Report on Newsprint Situation. George Putnam, Salem Capital Journal.
Practicability and Expense of State News Service by Wireless; Result of Some Personal Investigations. Frank Jenkins, Eugene Register.
Discussion of Service of American Press Association, Autocaster Service, etc., Elbert Bede, R. W. Sawyer and others.
Plan for Future Conferences. Eric W. Allen, Dean School of Journalism.
Election of Officers.
12.-15 P. M., Hendricks Hall. University Luncheon
Toastmaster: The Newly Elected President of the Conference.
Speakers: Members of the Student Body of the University and School of Journalism.
3 P. M.
IF YOU DIG DEEP ENOUGH YOU'LL GET YOUR GOOD STORY
BY FRED LOCKLEY, Assistant Publisher, Oregon Journal
[The article which follows is Mr. Lockle-y's summary of his address before a class in Newswriting in the School of Journalism of the University of Oregon. It was the purpose of the instructor to inspire the students with the spirit of a real mixer whose skill in the gathering of interesting newspaper stories is widely recognized. The article is printed in Oregon Exchanges in the hope that it will be of value to many newsgatherers who are on the lookout for ideas and who are willing to profit from the suggestions and experiences of others.]
IT IS what you are, as well as what you do, that determines whether or not you are to be a good reporter. You can’t put human interest into your story unless you yourself are interested in it. If news-getting and news-writing are drudgery to you, take up some other line of work. The man who is “a servant of duty and a slave of routine” cannot put originality and human interest into his work. If your job is merely a bread ticket, take up work that you like better. Writing, more than almost anything else, is an expression of one’s own personality. The secret of success in your work is to put your soul into your work. Work without soul is mechanical, dead. Hamilton Wright Mabie was right when he said, “The men who give their work character, distinction, perfection, are the men whose spirit is behind their hands, giving them a new dexterity. There is no kind of work, from the merest routine to the highest creative activity, which does not receive all that gives it quality from the spirit in which it is done. Work with out spirit is a body without soul,-there is no life in it. Everything that lacks spirit is mechanical; everything that contains spirit has life. To put spirit into one’s work is to vitalize it—to give it force, character, originality, distinction. It is to put the stamp of one’s own nature upon it and the living power of one’s soul into it.”
No Dearth of Material
In J. M. Barrie’s story of Sentimental Tommy, when Tommy apprenticed him self to an author, and was asked if he liked his work he said, “Where the heart is, there shall the treasure be also.” If you have real zest in your work, there will be no difficulty in finding plenty of material. Here in the West, human interest stuff lies all about us. Drop into any hotel, and almost every man you meet is a story. In the course of a month you will meet pioneers who have come west by ox-team, packers and freighters, prospectors who have made and lost for tunes—and are still following the golden lure. Sourdoughs from Alaska; cow-men who went to the Inland Empire when “the law of the forty-five” was the law of the land. You will meet reclamation engineers, forest rangers, men who hunt and trap wild animals for the government, and a score of other pioneer types.
Hunter's Good Story
Not long ago I dropped into conversation with one of the men who are en gaged in killing predatory animals. “I had a peculiar experience recently,” he said; “I set a trap for a cougar. When I made my rounds, both cougar and trap were gone. The cougar’s tracks led to the trap, which I had placed beneath a large fir, but there were no outgoing tracks. After hunting half an hour and circling the tree in an ever-widening compass, I came to the conclusion I had trapped a winged cougar and that it had flown away with the trap. I sat down on a log not far distant to puzzle the matter out. I happened to glance upward; and there, near the top of the fir, I saw the cougar hanging from a limb, while the log that I had fastened to the trap was suspended on the other side of the limb. The mystery was solved.”
In every community you will find members of the “has-been club” who can tell you interesting stories of their experiences in politics. Your readers will peruse with interest stories of old-time baseball players, early-day firemen, pioneer photographers and other equally interesting characters. Another theme of perennial interest is the telling of the stories of the men in your community who have been successful and by “being successful” I do not mean mere money grubs who have large balances in the bank. I mean the tracing of the development of a man’s character from boyhood on, and the describing of how he has met the testing times in his life and how he has served, or failed to serve, his fellow men. There is no community anywhere, no matter how small, in which you will not find plenty of human interest material if you are intent on finding it.
Story in Colored Mammy
I dropped off at Albany the other day. After finishing my business I had a half day on my hands. I ran across an old colored woman, Amanda Johnson, 92 years of age, who had come to Oregon in 1852 and who, as a girl, had been given away as a wedding present. Though she had been a slave nearly twenty years, she was proud of the fact she had never been bartered for, nor sold, and that all of her brothers and sisters had been given away to the various members of the family as wedding presents. An hour later I discovered J. H. B. Miller, a brother of, and from him I obtained a lot of hitherto unrecorded facts about the boyhood experiences of the poet of the Sierras.
Pawnbrokers are a first class source of human interest. So are policemen. So are the occasional world travelers who drop into your community on business or pleasure. Stage drivers and garage men, conductors and brakemen, hotel clerks and telephone operators all can give you many a good news tip, providing you are a good mixer and show appreciation of their tips.
The trouble with most of us is that we overlook the stories around us. I have a friend here in Oregon, who went to Alaska when gold was discovered in the Klondike. He put in 20 years mushing all over Alaska and came home broke and discouraged, to find within a few miles of his own farm, a rich ledge of hematite iron ore, which will make him more money than a gold mine in Alaska.
Must Ask Questions
Do you remember when the school muster in Barrie’s story of Sentimental Tommy was angry and jealous because his long-time customers transferred their allegiance to Tommy because they preferred his letters to the dominie’s? When the dominie asked them the reason for having Tommy write their letters one of them said, “He asks us questions, and so he can write better letters than you do.” Tommy had happened on the secret of successful writing. Unless you are interested in the story, you will not ask the questions that will bring out all the facts. Some years ago I interviewed an old time trapper—a man who had trapped beaver with Kit Carson in the early forties. He was 92 years old. When I had secured my story, I said to his wife, who was much younger than he, “Tell me how you happened to fall in love with your husband.” She answered in a discouraged and dispirited voice, “I didn’t, mister. I married him so as to get a widow’s pension. I was 23 and he was 72 and he was getting a pension for being a soldier in the Mexican War. He looked kind of frail when I married him. That was 20 years ago. Looks like he never would die.”
No matter how much a man has been written up, there is always some unusual angle that you can get on his story if you have any real spiritual insight.
When I visited Billy Sunday some time ago he and Ma Sunday started to give me the regulation type of story, which had neither freshness nor originality and which would have proved a dud, if I had used it. Instead, I obtained a story of his experiences in a foundling asylum. and how he had broken into baseball. When Billy Sunday was young, there used to be intense rivalry between the hose teams of small communities. To prevent the running in of any professional foot-racers, a rule had been made that all members of the hose team must be residents of the town and must be working at some gainful occupation. The firemen in a nearby town wanted Billy as a member of their team, so they got him a job at driving a hearse. Saturday afternoons he used to play ball, and his skill as a small-town player attracted the attention of 'Pop’ Anson who took him on as an apprentice to his team.
Dig Deep; Story's There
I don’t care how big a man is nor how obscure he is, if you will dig deep enough, you will find a rich ledge of human interest. I have interviewed President Wilson, Thomas A. Edison, Sir Douglas Haig, Tom Lawson, and other men of this type and the stories I have got from them are interesting sidelights on their character and achievements, more or less off the beaten path of news-gathering.
I said, and I mean it, that you can get a story from anyone you meet. The other day I looked up from my work and discovered the Journal had a new office boy. I called him over to my desk, motioned to a chair and told him I was going to interview him. He had never been interviewed and was very much disconcerted. Before we had gone very far, I discovered that his father, now a butcher, had been a Rabbi in Russia, and that Sam, the new office boy, was next to youngest of all the Boy Scouts who attended the big jamboree in London. “When we were being reviewed in Brussels,” he said, “King Albert saw that I was one of the smallest scouts in line, so he came and shook hands with me and asked what the American Boy Scouts had done to help win the war. I told him we had sold Liberty bonds, and I showed him the medal I had been awarded for selling Victory bonds. He told me about the Boy Scouts of his country. He talked pretty good English for a foreigner and was very pleasant and friendly.”
Whether it is the president of a corporation or the office boy, the commander in chief of the Army or a buck private, if you can keep your freshness of view point, your interest and enthusiasm you can always find interesting people. Be brief. Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech as an example of brevity, lucidity and sincerity. If you are not wholesome, natural, and sincere you will not be able to impress others with the sincerity of your work. Keep your ideals. Don’t become cynical. Keep an open mind and heart. Be cheerful, courteous and courageous. Your own character is inevitably reflected in your work. To see the thing clearly and describe it simply is the secret of writing readable stories. Describe things with which you are familiar and if you are not familiar with them become so. Be eager to learn, stay out of the limelight. Let the reader see what you are describing. Cultivate tolerance and sympathy. Use short words so as not to confuse your readers. Use short sentences. Be accurate. Stick to your subject. Quit when you are through. Give the facts honestly, accurately, and let the reader draw his own conclusions.
Don't Overwrite It
Cultivate restraint of statement, and poise. Eliminate non-essentials. Avoid pleasing platitudes, glittering generalities and forensic fourflushing. Be honest with yourself and your readers. Don’t try to fool them or make a thing seem other than it is. See that nothing sidetracks your story. Let it travel steadily toward its goal. See that your terminal facilities are in working order, so that the story may not wander out upon some sidetrack and get lost. Don’t be satisfied with your work. Cultivate a divine discontent. Make your best a stepping stone for still better work. You must be willing to work long and hard and stick to the task for the joy of doing good work. If you are interested only in what is in your pay envelope and not in serving your fellow men and making this a better world for men to live in you will miss the real and permanent reward of service.
MARKET PAGE IN COUNTRY PAPERS
By HYMAN H. COHEN, Market Editor, Oregon Journal
FOR years I have tried to prevail upon many of the small city and country editors to establish a market page, but for some reason or other few have accepted my invitation, Market pages as they have been conducted by some, are a mere space-waster; but a real market page, one that is always
on the job, is almost indispensable to those that delve into the marts of trade. This is a big contract, for almost every one comes into contact with one of the marts of trade. For the small city daily it would be impossible to conduct a market page on as elaborate a scale as the big city dailies, but to the readers of the small city pub lication the market page can be made
In wheat-growing sections I have noted a dearth of news regarding the crops in
the very papers which cater to the producers of grain. I have looked in vain for news of the wheat crop even in papers
that consider themselves very good small city publications. Personally I have always tried to tell the truth in market reports. I have al ways felt that the subscriber who takes
the Journal, makes the paper his agent
to furnish news of certain commodities he is interested in. The paper would not be a good agent unless it furnished him the facts in each case, as it sees them. Moi
"Why Not the Others?"
Oregon Exchanges has received from
just as valuable. Market pages should be conducted to
Leslie Harrison, manager of the Tillamook Headlight, a request for the experience of Oregon newspapermen on a matter of journalistic ethical policy:
furnish information of vital importance to the agricultural and even manufacturing industries of a community. For in
stance, the newspaper in a mining com munity should have information of the metal markets and should be an authority upon all matters pertaining to that in dustry.
“One proposition has come up here late ly,” writes Mr. Harrison, “on which we
would like some opinions expressed, to wit:
“The Headlight recently undertook to take some steps to partly clean the moral conditions of this city and in doing so
The doings of the stock markets
in relation to the mining and metal shares as well as industries which utilize these commodities, should be carefully chronicled.
In communities where the growing of hops is the big interest of producers, the hop market and its allied industries should
published accounts of several prominent people here getting themselves into scrapes. We received much comment of
all kinds. Some readers claim that no good can be accomplished by publishing such things, while others told us to go to
be “played” to the limit. The same is true of livestock sections, or in fact all sections which specialize in
it. The latter seem to be in the majority. One thing is sure; the stories certainly
any one or more commodities.
helped the ’box office,’ for we sold all
tions in these districts should always have the first news of interest to the people. Accuracy is essential in all news, but more so in market reports than in the ordinary run of news. Market reports
whether other papers have tried the same thing, and the results obtained. We like to think that we are doing the community
touch every one’s pocket in some way,
some good by these stories.
therefore they should not only be inter
dog is always written up. others ?”
esting but accurate..
the papers we could turn out. “What we would like to
The underWhy not the
WHY I WRITE FOR THE TRADE PRESS—AND HOW
By NAOMI SWETT
[Mrs. Swett. of Portland, here describe for Oregon Exchanges her experiences in breaking into free-lance work, and the joy and satisfaction, as well as the profit, that have come to her since she found there was money in writing for trade publications. She also gives some helpful tips as to how a free-lance may develop salable ideas]
WRITING for the trade journals is not so very edifying in itself, far from thrilling or romantic, it’s plainly commercial, but the “long, thin” envelopes that carry friendly slips of blue, buff, and green bond compensate in a material way for the lack of fame and glory attached to the career of the trade journal writer.
I am asked to tell how I “did it.”
It all happened like this. After several years of real STRUGGLE, during which time I had been compelled to forget that I had ever written or wanted to write, I landed in a stenographic position where the work was light, and, best of all, the “boss” was out most of the time! My “previous experience” was some few years of correspondence and special work for the daily papers of Portland, and any one who has a “writing vein” but no time to let it flow, can appreciate what it meant to me, to receive my weekly salary check for $25 and still find time to write during this working day—more time than I had ever dared to hope for.
Took Writer's Magazine
The very first thing I did was to invest $3 in a year’s subscription to The Editor. Let me add that if I only had been able to do this several years sooner, I would have been spared the tedious years of mastering the difficulties of office routine, and weary weeks of looking for work.
My ambitions ran high, ever so high, nothing less than a book would do, and I spent two months of my spare time in the office writing a story of some 20,000 words. After two or three rewritings, I felt that I had polished it up quite beautifully, copied it on bond paper, fixed it up for lots of travel, and off it went to the Saturday Evening Post. You see, I didn’t believe in aiming low, as there is just as much room at the bottom as at the top, and it’s much quicker tumbling down than climbing up! Then I reeled off a 10,000-word story, and it went, too. Two 5,000-word stories, and off they went too. All were sent to leading magazines; naturally one with the nerve to send off such truck as I wrote would not get easily discouraged when my brain children came promptly home to mama, just as fast as U. S. mail could bring them. Then I wrote exactly seven jokes and wished them on various unsuspecting editors. All the while I was tumbling dizzily downward, soon to reach the bottom! I wrote two juvenile stories during this time, but sent them out in a rather perfunctory manner, as I felt that the bottom was, after all, really easier than the top to attain!
Trade Press Last Resort
All this while I dutifully read The Editor and became interested. (I’ll admit unwillingly) in articles that told young hopefuls to cater to the needs of the trade press, if they really would like to see some ready kale. At first I did not take these articles seriously, as I kept hoping that at least one of my sextette of stories would find a resting place, other than my own cubbyhole in the office desk. Four months had now elapsed since I commenced to “literate,” and I had nothing to show for it but an expenditure of $20 for postage stamps and stationery, and overstrained eyesight watching for the mailman. Half-heartedly, I decided to give the trade press a tryout.
To me, it seemed as though a sample story would be just about as good an introduction to the editors as a recital of my splendid qualifications. The next thing was to get the sample story. I was walking down Washington street one day, when I saw a pile of old shoes in the window of the Walkover Boot Shop. A large sign read, “$2 for Your Old Shoes.” “Go and get it!” I ordered myself, but my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth; it was years since I had approached a prospective “interview,” years of office subservience had humbled me, almost broken my spirit, and I had none of the self assurance that is almost a requirement.
First Trade Story Written
After walking around the Broadway entrance to the Washington street entrance two or three times, and even down to the middle of the next block, I retraced
wrote and completed the little story in less
than two hours. And also would I please write some more for them? Amongst my sextette of fictions was a series Written from my own experience in social work. These I had sent to Social Progress, and tumbling almost upon the heels of the precious $6.18 was a letter of acceptance.
with an invitation to send more. (Later I sold Social Progress a juvenile story, and two or three brief articles.) I had visions
of grinding out two juvenile stories a day; that would be $12.36, and my fortune would be made. However, after I had hatched out three or four more, which were promptly returned, I decided to be practical and cash in where the ready money trail led. For right while I was
on the path to juvenile story writing, I
began to sell my trade journal efforts. I’ll tell just exactly how. New FIELD Winsss
my steps, gulped and swallowed, and en tered the store, asking in muffled tones for the manager. Mr. Scherer kindly ex
plained the selling plan to me, and I went back to the office and wrote the idea up
in about 500 words. I hunted for a mar ket in the Literary Market column of The Editor; it happened to be the Merchants’
Trade Journal, Des Moines, Iowa. Off it went, and I didn’t know exactly what to do next. A few days later, I went into Green field’s shoe store to get some shoes for my little boy. I was immediately impressed with the attractively equipped juvenile department, and thought it good enough for a story. I found Manager Zing-leman a fine subject for an interview, he knew just what I wanted and with fine adept
ness went straight to the heart of their selling system, at the same time delving into a history of the business from the time that George L. Greenfield first came
The Merchants’ Trade Journal rejected my “$2 for Your Old Shoes.” However, the rejection contained encouragement;
they stated that they had used the same idea just a few months ago. I decided to give it one more chance and then ditch it.
It went to the Pacific Coast Merchant. In my letter accompanying same, I asked the editor if he would be interested in a story on the Greenfield Shoe Co. He was slow in replying, so I sent the story to the Merchants’ Trade Journal. But a few days after it had left my hands I heard from the Pacific Coast Merchant, they were very glad to get the story on the old shoes, and would publish it shortly, after which I would receive payment. They would like very much indeed to get the Greenfield shoe story, as well as anything else that I might find interesting to send them from Portland. I wrote back at once explaining that the Greenfield shoe
to Portland. Then he gave me three photos of the interior of the store. During this time I had received a check
time, I wrote to the Merchants Trade Jour
for $6.18 from the David C. Cook Pub
nal, telling them that I had a call for the
lishing Co. for the second of the juve nile stories I had written. I believe that I
Greenfield story, and please, if they didn’t want it, rush the return so it
story was gone, but that if it came back
I would send it to them. In order to save
[1°] wouldn’t grow stale. They telegraphed acceptance and information that check was going out in the mail to cover. Then I wrote the Pacific Coast Merchant, and told them that it was sold, but I’d watch out for something else. They wrote back that even if it was sold I might rewrite it and send it to them anyway, that it was the usual thing in trade journal work. Of course they got the rewritten story with another set of prints by return mail, and incidentally I took the tip and sold the story in various forms to three or four other journals, in widely separated East ern cities. The Des Moines paper paid me $20, the Pacific Coast Merchant $15, another paper $15, one $8, one $3, and I forget the other amounts. At any rate the total receipts in cash resulting from the hour’s interview netted close to $75. This money, straggling in a check at a time, was about three months in accumulating its grand total.
Ideas Develop Rapidly
You can readily see why I forsook the juvenile story opportunity, with two acceptances out of about fifteen or twenty tries, against this almost certain market for my work. I began to keep my eyes open for retail stores that showed un usual pep in their methods of publicity, displays, etc. Sandy’s was one of them, Sandy was a gold mine to interview, brimming over with originality, and so much material available, that one just had to scoop off the cream and write it up. Sandy’s story brought me $20, right off the bat, with requests for more material. The Powers Furniture Co. made good material, and still is, with its huge advertising campaign, and efficient store system. The first story on Powers brought $20 from a furniture journal, and since then I have sold revisions of the same story in three other places for from $8 to $15 each.
One will wonder how I managed to interview these people, when I worked all day in the office. My office hours were from 8:30 till 5; it was between 5 and 6 that I managed to grab my interviews. Everyone was very nice to me, when I explained that I was working during the day, and without exception they put them selves out to give me what information I wanted.
Up till the time I left my office work, (December, 1920) I confined my output to feature stories of progressive business houses and their methods, “success” stories, they might be called. I could not undertake regular correspondence, as I was unable to handle specific assignments under such conditions. I’m going to be as frank as I can, to give a real idea of what this work brings in, to any one who might be interested. Here are my cash receipts for my work, during the time that I was in the office, spare-time money, as it were: July, $26.18; August, $62.90; September, $88.75; October, $60.35; November, $89.00; December, $100.15.
Everybody thought I was a fool to contemplate giving up the office work, when I had such a rare opportunity to write on the boss’s time. I came to the decision that when my writing income equalled my salary I would let the office go, and take a chance. I asked the advice of a couple of editors, who were strongly against such a step. One of them said that $30 a month was the maximum amount of my work they could use. (Very recently for this paper, I did a piece of work that netted me $166.80 in a single issue!) I had been saving every cent that I made by writing, and decided that I would quit the office and live on my savings: by the time my money was gone if I did not make a go of it, I could always go back to stenography. You see, the item of a six year old son to look after made my position somewhat more risky than for one who is unencumbered.
I left the office at the end of December, and my receipts for January were $89.65; my income was cut almost in half, you see. February went up to $156.47 and March, a month of utmost concern, brought but $44.95. April ran around to $167.20, May $178.65, June $262.30, and July $206.67.
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