AN INTERESTING LESSON ON RELATION OF
NEWSPAPERS AND THEIR READERS
BY N. D. COCHRAN
What the people give they can take away again.
Hearst is finding this out in Chicago. He is learning a lesson that will
prove to be a mighty expensive lesson to him. Other publishers who can
see may save themselves a similar experience and much money.
The war in Chicago between Hearst and organized labor is one of the
most interesting struggles between a newspaper and the people who built it
up I have ever known.
When Hearst started the Chicago American thirteen years ago he had
made some record as an advocate of labor and friend of the oppressed. Or
ganized labor in Chicago bad been at the mercy of the trust press so long
that Hearst was welcomed with open arms as a deliverer.
Labor took to his American at once and did everything it could to
boost its circulation. The growth of the American was phenomenal. Mer
chants who wanted to reach purchasers among the workers used .the
American as an advertising medium.
The success of the American was, followed by the establishment of the
Examiner in the morning field, and that paper was successful, too.
At the time of the lockout of union pressmen by the Hearst papers,
May 1, 1912, the American led tjie evening papers in circulation and the
Examiner led in the morning field.
And Hearst's greatest obligation for his great success in the Chicago
field was to the working class.
Some time before the lockout, however, he had joined the local pub
lishers' trust; and when the trust was ready to spring the trap on the union
pressmen the Hearst papers pulled the string.
Hearst had gone clear over to the capitalistic side. Having used labor
he turned around and kicked it in the- face.
Then began an interesting and instructive war. Labor deddedto fight
back. The Chicago Federation of Labor, ope Of the most progressive labor
bodies in the world, fought the devil with fire.
Instead of putting all of ihe papers in the publishers' trust on the unfair
list and making d. losing fight, the federation shrewdly singled out the
Hearst papers and put them an the unfair list
This made it possible for union workers to read any .of the. other papers
while not reading the Hearst papers. And it enabled labor to concentrate
its fire on one publisher.
Even before the present agitation over the deal between Hearst and
Simon O'Donnell, labor had put the News ahead of the American in the
evening field, and the Tribune ahead of the Examiner in the morning field.
There was a big slump in the circulation of both Hearst papers. And
a big slump in newspaper circulation means a big slump in advertising
patronage, as fast as merchants get onto the circulation slump.
Feeling this slump keenly, Hearst started every old scheme to bolster
up falling circulation. There were coupon schemes, trips to the Panama
canal, trips on the baseball tour abroad, coat trips, gifts of houses and lots,
and finally a suffrage special edition and a so-called trades union edition.
Hearst was trying to eat his cake and have it He wanted to get the
workers again and still run his pressroom non-union. He captured a few
labor leaders in the Chicago Building Tradep Council and with these as his
lieutenants started in to attack, organized labor from the inside.
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