Oregon Exchanges/Volume 5/Number 4

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Oregon Exchanges  (1922) 
Number 4

Oregon Exchanges

For the Newspaper Men of the State of Oregon

Vol. 5
No. 4
Eugene, Oregon, May, 1922


By A. C. GAGE,

Editor and Publisher, Angora Journal, Portland

[Mr. Gage, who is himself a successful trade publisher, here analyzes the situation in Oregon from the point of view of his publications. The field and the opportunity for these papers is most interestingly treated. The subject of class and trade journalism, covering the vast number of specialties connected with industry, commerce, agriculture and all the varied interests of the work-a-day world, forms an important branch of the work of the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon, and will be one of the features of the annual Oregon Newspaper Conference next January.]

HOW many in the partial list of Oregon publications given at the bottom of this page are familiar to you? They are class, trade and group publications issued regularly in this state. Many of them are farm publications. It is with these that this article has largely to do.

There is always in the United States a wide horizon for those trained in newspaper experience. The business of making magazines or newspapers offers so varied a range of selection that the individual is sometimes puzzled which way to look. In whatever direction, there is opportunity, often close at hand. Usually newspaper preparation qualifies for magazine work, or for class and trade publication enterprises. It is not a long step from one to the other.

Oregon has good representation in newspapers, class and trade publications,

Western Breeders Journal
Pacific Homestead
Shipping Guide
Pacific Poultry Journal
Northwest Journal of Dentistry
Northwest Insurance News
Pacific Retailers Journal
Hardware World
Pacific N. W. Hotel News
Commercial Review
Pacific Drug Review
Pacific Banker
Automobile Record
Export and Shipping Journal
Oregon Grange Bulletin
Western Farmer
The Manufacturer
Oregon Teachers Monthly
Northwest Pacific Farmer
Poultry Life
North American Filer
Fountain Profits
Trade Register
Pacific Legion
Commercial Recorder
Better Fruit
Oregon Veteran
Angora Journal
Oregon Merchants Magazine
Tax Liberator

but produces no magazine of general literary and national character. The nearest approach made to that was the Pacific Monthly, which was absorbed by Sunset Magazine.

There are, however, a number of special class or trade periodicals that have attained high merit and financial success. These represent various industries, organizations, societies and groups.

The farmer as well as the city man likes to see his name in print. If Henry Jones has produced a bumper crop and made a good showing of live stock, he is proud to have it recorded; neighbor Brown likes to read about it and compare with his own achievements. Both are eager to learn of new and successful ways of doing things.

This is what makes the agricultural press a vital element and a force in any state. Oregon has a creditable list of publications giving this kind of information to the farmer. Live stock, farming, orchard and poultry people look upon these periodicals as a part of their industry. They read them, advertise in them, and write letters to the editors.

The agricultural weekly or monthly carries messages between widely separated men and areas. It tells a story, gives a remedy, describes a method or system, quotes market prices, reports sales, advises improvement of breeds, urges new ideas. It creates demand for better machinery and equipment, explains farm problems, reports meetings and prints articles and illustrations designed to help the man on the land.

In this work of publishing, trained minds are required. The editor of a farm publication, wise in his policy, not only sends his paper or magazine to the farmer, but goes himself to the farm, makes the problems of the farmer his own; meets him in his fields or home. In return the farmer gets to see the personal side of the editor and his viewpoint, or it may be the field representative who goes out, and the farmer feels more interested in the publication.

Naturally it is impossible for the publisher or his representative to meet all or even a small percentage of the subscribers, but contact is possible with the leaders—men who are doing things, such as producing the best cows, horses, sheep, goats, swine, poultry.

At county or state fairs, live stock shows, grange sessions, the energetic publisher meets the farmer, just as the newspaper man meets the merchant on the street or in his store; talks with him, as the managing editor of a city daily greets the banker or the politician.

Farm paper editors have an added means of making friends and widening their acquaintance by correspondence. They know as many farmers by their handwriting as they do by sight. The mail of the average editor who conducts a farm publication is heavy. In my own work there have been received over one hundred letters in one day.

Letters Bring Material

These letters nearly always carry some bit of news or information that is helpful in preparing the reading pages of the publication; nearly all require a reply, but they take the place of “reporting,” or the personal visit or interview, the conference at the bank or court house, or at the office of some lawyer—and they bring business.

The “nut,” the reformer, the extremist, the radical, the idealist, you recognize, just as one knows the city or town “man of one idea,” the genius who tells how to “run the sheet,” and the fellow who is press-agenting some pet theory. They are the same in the country as in the city. One stonehead writes a dissertation on collective bargaining, using the unprinted side of various circulars for “copy” paper. He encloses it in the envelope in which you sent back his last contribution, marks out his own name and address and sketches in a fist pointing to your return address in the corner. One wonders if he borrowed the postage stamp.

(Continued on page 13)


Copy Editor, Oregon Journal

[Mr. Swayze writes from the point of view gained in more than twenty years’ work on newspapers, large and small, in various parts of the country. He knows newspaper work from both the reporter’s and the editor’s particular slant—if there is any difference—and he has here analyzed the findings of his years of observation, so far as they affect the relation of the hard-shelled party newspaper to the people. Not every newspaperman will agree with Mr. Swayze’s opinion in toto; but perhaps most of them have done some thinking along the same line as he.]

LET this article begin with a flat statement, which it shall be my purpose to attempt to prove. That statement is this: During twenty years of an active career in the newspaper field the thing which impresses me most is the tremendous loss of respect which the party newspaper has suffered in its standing with the public.

I have seen this feeling grow from incipient doubt and through later indifference up to its present state of an utter lack of confidence—a state approximating secret and silent contempt and satirically expressed in the stinging phrase, “just newspaper talk.”

Twenty years ago that term was never heard. Today it is a tenant of almost every tongue, and is shamefully reflected in the party newspaper’s inability to influence public opinion. We newspaper men do not like to make the admission, but the bare, cold fact stares at us, nevertheless, that the influence of the press has come to be so negligible that it carries little or no weight with the thinking populace.

Touch With People Lost

Bond elections, legislation and office-seekers are not nowadays, as they used to be, swept into official acceptance by the bellicose thunderings of a party organ, but by the psychology of the multitude—a nebulous but none the less powerful factor which permeates, creates and guides modern thought despite flippant and superficial currents on the surface.

Because of its total blindness to the larger and more permanent virtues as distinguished from its full-eyed recognition of partisan issues and fleeting shibboleths, the press has lost communion with the spirit of most of the people. It is still a sort of “holy writ” for the subnormal, or illiterate poor, who do not and can not think, and the super-normal, or overly rich, who do not wish to be bothered with the luxury of thinking for themselves. But with the vast multitude between these two classes—a multitude which is at once the bulwark of the government and the mainstay of civilization—it has degenerated into an object of mere curiosity, to be picked up frivolously and as often thrown down in sickened disgust.

Let a few incidents be cited to prove the opening statement in this article.

When the Papers Failed

The first incident goes back to 1910, I believe, when Miles Poindexter was a candidate for United States senator from Washington. He was then labeled a “Progressive Republican.” His opponents were John L. Wilson, a former United States Senator, and Thomas Burke, a wealthy and distinguished lawyer of Seattle. Both were Republican stand-patters of the standpattest variety. WilPage:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/109 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/110 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/111 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/112 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/113 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/114 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/115 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/116 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/117 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/118 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/119 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/120 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/121 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/122 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/123 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/124 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/125 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/126 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/127 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/128 Page:Oregon Exchanges volume 5.pdf/129