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The Tacoma Times was one of several West Coast papers founded by Edward Willis (E. W.) Scripps. Scripps' approach was to provide minimal funding for printing equipment and facilities in small or mid-sized cities. Scripps left the day-to-day operation of his newspapers in the hands of ambitious young editors who were offered stock in the company. E. H. Wells, former editor of the Seattle Star, proposed the founding of the Tacoma Times in 1903 and was responsible for the paper in its early years of publication. Scripps was finally persuaded to provide $20,000 in capital to start the Times. He retained 51 percent ownership of the paper, with Wells holding another 25 percent. Wells launched the Times in a remodeled stable with used equipment from another Scripps paper on a shoe-string budget of $50.59 per day.
National content was distributed to Scripps’ newspaper chain through the Scripps-McRae telegraphic news service and combined with content about the local community created by the local editorial staff. In 1902, Scripps founded the National Enterprise Association, a service for distributing editorial cartoons, illustrations, and articles on specialized subjects such as fashion and sports. The Tacoma Times featured many of these graphics. Scripps’ newspapers served a working-class audience, and the Tacoma Times did occasionally cover labor issues between its lengthy descriptions of crimes and scandals. Significant events in Tacoma covered by the Times include the development of the port and the breaking of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s monopoly on the waterfront; the expansion of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Bases in the 1920s; the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940; and the evacuation of Japanese-Americans in 1942. The Tacoma Times also gained notoriety in some circles for its reporting of a UFO sighting on Maury Island in 1947. The Tacoma Times ceased publication in 1949.
Some of the early graduates from the University of Washington's journalism program served as editors for the Tacoma Times. Roy Pinkerton was part of the first class to graduate from the program in 1911 and began editing the Times in 1915. He left the paper in 1921 and after editing a few other Scripps papers founded the Ventura County Star in California in 1925. Another UW graduate, Ralph Benjamin, took Pinkerton's place in 1921. Benjamin had initially worked for the Olympia Daily Recorder before becoming editor-in-chief of the Scripps-Canfield League papers, a position he held into the 1930s. Benjamin quit the Tacoma Times to work as a supervisor of transportation, although his later involvement with the Teamster's Union led him back into the newspaper industry as editor of the Washington Teamster.
Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA