Volume 8, Number 3, Spring 1983
The very first newspaper in Springfield was the Ozark Standard, founded in 1839, by C. W. Stark and another unidentified person. Its name was later changed to the Ozark Eagle. The Springfield Advertiser was the second newspaper in town. It began on May 14, 1844, by Warren H. Graves and its content was limited to only hard facts about the Democrat party. "It was a folio four-column, four-page paper."1 It was published on Tuesday mornings and cost $1.50, in advance, for a one year subscription. To put and ad in the Advertiser cost $1 .00 per square, which consisted of twelve lines or less. The Advertiser had a simple motto that stated "uncompromising hostility to any and everything that is calculated to endanger the principles of true democracy."2 The contents of the paper consisted of political speeches, editorials, some local news, exchanges, and advertisements.
The Texas Democrat was the third paper that appeared, on January 1, 1846. It was an independent paper brought about to promote the election of J.P. Campbell to Congress. In 1847, the Texas Democrat became the Springfield Democrat. Then in 1848, the Springfield Democrat became the Springfield Whig. In 1849, the Whig was moved to Osceola and became the Osceola Independent.
The Advertiser remained in operation until the eve of the Civil War. The last
issue regretfully announced the beginning of the terrible event. The only papers published during the Civil War were of a military nature. "With the end of the Civil War, newspapers became news papers.3 The whole paper no longer consisted only of political essays and editorials.
The first Springfield paper after the Civil war was the Springfield Leader published on April 4, 1867. Its owner and publisher was Dan Kennedy, who probably wrote, sold ads, set the type, printed the paper, and then sold it on the street corner. Kennedy did not originally want to publish a newspaper. He had aspirations to become a lawyer, but because he was a Confederate soldier, when the war was over, the state refused to let him practice law. Kennedy therefore decided to write about it in hopes of improving the public awareness of the law and strengthening of the Constitutional right of freedom of speech. He was successful in fostering the growth of the Democratic Party during his tenure as publisher of the paper, a record of service that lasted until 1894 when H. S. Jewell purchased the Leader and proceeded to develop it into a profitable business.
On Sunday morning, November 18, 1900, Springfields residents were presented their first full-color Sunday comics. By May 4, 1933, Jewells news gathering enterprise was publishing three different editions; the morning Daily News, the afternoon Leader and Press, and the Sunday News & Leader.
The Day the News Went Up In Flames
The Springfield newspapers occupied their first building in 1933. It served the needs of the paper until March 27, 1947, the day the news went up in flames.
By 6:00 a.m., on Thursday, March 27, 1947 most of the employees had left for the morning. While making his rounds Marion Eulis, the papers watchman, discovered smoke coming from the rear of the building. When he approached the storeroom, he discovered it engulfed in flames. Euliss sounded the alarm at 6:03 a.m.
The fire quickly raged out of control through the engraving room, mailing room, and the photograph laboratory where it completely destroyed a wire photo machine. It spread through the pressroom, destroying two presses, and through the composing room, where it destroyed seventeen typesetting machines. The fire was finally brought under control when it reached a fire wall separating the south wing from the rest of the structure.
At 11:00 a.m., the alarm was once again sounded at the Boonville Avenue location. This time it was the south wing that was burning. While not destroyed by the fire, this part was heavily damaged by smoke and water. All that was saved was the front business office, warehouse, and the west part of the building. Before the smoke had settled preparations were being made to print the evening edition of the Leader & Press. While many local print shops offered their services, the type for the paper was finally set at the Inland Printing Company and there were 3,500 copies of a four page paper published late that evening.
No one ever found out how the fire started. The fire department reported, "They did everything they could do, but the fire had got its start."4 It is interesting to note that on March 27, the same day of the fire, the fire department was inspected and it was determined that their equipment was old, no longer in proper working condition,
and that "their training program was not what it should be, and the department was critically short of manpower."5 On June 19, a new photo-engraving plans was constructed, the first step in the process of rebuilding the paper office.
The News Does Get Around
The Springfield Newspapers employ a large staff of people. There are approximately 360 workers at the plant, besides 354 independent carriers. The payroll is more than five million dollars annually. The daily circulation of the paper reaches 72% of the homes, and on Sunday 77% of the homes are reached. The circulation department handles 75,000 homes daily. They also inform the carriers of new customers and any complaints about the delivery of the paper.
As is the case for most news gathering organizations, the newspaper runs on revenue. The advertising division is made up of three departments, advertising, retail, and classified or national. The cost of a full page ad, with no contract, is $3,164.80, and with a contract it is slightly less, $2,024.79. A classified ad is as small as $6.60. The classified department "has three outside sales people who work with car dealers, real estate agents, etc."6 They also have fourteen telephone operators to handle the large volume of call-in ads. They put them on a Harris Display Terminal that can recall the information at any time by the telephone number.
The retail advertising department has twelve outside sales people and a full time graphic artist, for creative services, designing layouts and logos.
The Dispatch Department is responsible for the reduction and enlargement of a picture to fit the space available . They then have a "copy put on a tape similar to keypunch tape. It instructs the machine,"7 which can type 3200 lines per minute in 900 different styles. The TXT phototronics has many discs and in a certain place a "beam of light flashes through the letter or number exposed on photo sensitive paper.8 After all this is completed, it is the right size and shape.
The press is a 64 ton, eight unit Goss Mark II. It produces 46,600-36 page papers in an hour or 24,000-128 page paper per hour. There are fourteen people who work in the press room, but only eight are actually operating it. It runs about twenty to thirty rolls of paper a day. Each roll costs about $509.00 a ton and it uses 7,000 tons a year. "All the newsprint used in one year in all newspapers would reach to the sun, that is 93,000,000 miles away."10 It takes 740 pounds of ink a day, that is 245,000 pounds a year. If thirty minutes is lost some place that means that two hours are lost when it gets all done.
When the average resident of Springfield and Southwest Missouri picks up their evening paper today, chances are they will not realize how much time, technology, and effort has gone into its production. However, they will be informed and entertained by what they read and that will make it all worth while, for that will surely continue to be the goal of a Springfield Newspaper in the making.
Ed: 1st place winning essay in the 1983 Historical Essay
Contest - Karen is a student in Alan Schmitts Local History class at Ash Grove High School.
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