Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 8 - Page 11 & Section 1 Page 15, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, June 29, 2012

Page 11

Journal Included With AP Pioneers History of Association Is Reviewed

Editor’s Note: On the 100th anniversary of The Muscatine Journal we are pleased to present the following brief history of news-gathering in the United States, prepared after much research by The Associated Press. The Associated Press – or AP as it is familiarly known – is a non-profit, cooperative news gathering association of 1.400 members newspapers. It has been gathering news for 90 years and this is one of its old and respected members.

Photo ~ Press Headquarters. In Rockefeller Center, New York City, is located the Associated Press building, pictured above, which provides general headquarters for the world’s largest co-operative news gathering organization. The 15 story structure houses the general offices of The Associated Press and likewise the New York AP bureau.

By Ben Wiskersham
(Associated Press Staff Writer)

Hardly had the Black Hawk war come to its conclusion in 1832 and the westward migration of the hardy American pioneers begun in earnest toward Iowa’s rolling prairie plains than a trading post – Muscatine – was set up on the banks of the Mississippi river.

This was in 1833, the year after the Indians, under Black Hawk, suffered one of their many defeats that marked America’s winning of the west. Sam Strajack With Journal for 47 Years.

And this was still 11 years before Prof. Samuel F. B. Morse invented his telegraph, still more than a dozen years before the Mexican war, nearly two-score ten years before the Civil war and a whole generation before Custer’s massacre at Little Big Horn. Sam Strajack With Journal for 47 Years.

Newspapermen Go West.

But newspapermen already had moved west with the wagons. In Iowa, newspapers were established in Dubuque in 1836, in Davenport in 1838 and in Bloomington (later Muscatine) in 1840. It was on Oct. 27 of 1840 that Thomas Hughes and John Russell issued the first edition of The Bloomington Herald, later to become The Muscatine Journal. The settlement was incorporated as Bloomington in 1839 and chartered as a city under its present name in 1851.

Four years after the founding of The Muscatine Journal the obscure Prof. Morse began operation of his “electro-magnetic telegraph” and started a series of events that led ultimately to the founding of The Associated Press. In that year, 1844, the first telegraph line was completed between Washington and Baltimore and the historic first message – “What hath God Wrought?” – was sent.

By 1847 the wires had been run to a dozen cities, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis among them, all located along the important rivers which were the highways of many of the early westward moving pioneers. It was Horace Greeley who inspected the new telegraph and said prophetically, “You are going to turn newspaper offices upside down.” In effect, this is what happened.

Telegraph Expedited News.

The telegraph made it possible for editors to get news from far away cities in a matter of a few hours. Just as the frontiers of the nation were being pushed further and further westward, so were the news frontiers extending outward in ever-widening circles from the office of each newspaper that used the telegraph.

James Gordon Bennett, founder of the New York Herald and a man who pursued his newspaper work with vigor, characteristically lost no time in taking advantage of this new means of communication to further increase the already swift pace of his news gathering activities. He hired “telegraph reporters” along the ever-lengthening lines of the telegraph and his news sources as a consequence widened as the wires were built. The other New York newspapers were forced to follow suit or be left in the ruck. It was not long before the infant telegraph was jammed with an overload of news copy for the half-dozen New York newspapers most active in its use. Costs for each individual newspaper soared. A practical solution to their problem was necessary if they were to continue to use the telegraph, or to continue in business, for that matter.

The answer came in the formation by these six newspapers of an organization to divide the cost of transmitting the news by telegraph. Dr. Alexander Jones, medical man and world traveler, was hired at $20 a week as general agent to provide for delivery of the news coy from the telegraph terminal, then across the Hudson river in Jersey City. These men called their organization The Associated Press.

The young association represented the first noteworthy attempt at the systematic gathering of news for newspapers and newspaper owners throughout the United States began to turn to this enterprise, privately owned, as a means of getting their news.

As the list of subscribers to the news service set up by the New York City publishers increased, the publishers gathered together in loosely formed groups based on geographical lines to facilitate business dealings with the New York Associated Press, and to make easier the task of transmitting the news to newspapers in each depression.

Journal Among Clients.

Among these were the Northwestern Associated Press and its parent organization, the Western Associated Press. The Muscatine Journal, during the years that marked the major part of the westward expansion and the growth of the west obtained its news from the Northwestern Associated Press. This group was formed in 1867, a year after the formation of the Western Associated Press, to serve newspapers in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

It was during these years too that disturbing developments were taking place in the west that were to change the whole basis of systematic news gathering in the United States and many of the west’s leading newspapers had a part in writing this phase of the nation’s newspaper history.

Members of the Western Associated Press, one of the groups that obtained its news from the New York Associated Press, began a struggle for equality with the New York organization, a struggle for an equal voice in the management of the news gathering work as well as an equal shore in the expense. All of the groups were subservient to the New York Associated Press, a privately owned organization, and the New York association was in no mood to relinquish its excellent financial position, or to let outsiders share in the direction of its work.

This struggle for recognition and an equal footing went on for many years between the Western Associated Press and the New York Associated Press until an impossible stage was reached in 1892. The New York organization during these years threatened to have complete control of all news gathering and to be in a position to force all newspapers to pay heavy tribute for their news service.

The Western Associated Press led a revolt. It sought and obtained the support of the Southern Associated Press, the New England Associated Press, the New York State Associated Press and kindred groups. Together they formed the modern Associated Press under the laws of the State of Illinois. The plan was for each paper to pay a fair share of the total cost of collecting and distributing the news and for each paper to have a voice in the management of the organization’s affairs.

The first president was Victor F. Lawson, publisher of The Chicago Daily News, and the first general manager Melville E. Stone, a former partner of Lawson’s. they laid down the rule that the association’s news, above all, should be accurate and completely free of bias or opinion.

In 1900 The Associated Press reincorporated under New York law because the laws of New York State better protected the non-profit, cooperative plan on which it was based. In that year the organization had 612 newspapers on its membership list and approximately 30,000 miles of telegraph wires under lease for the distribution of the news.

Journal, AP Linked.

On Nov. 12, 1903,W. L. Lane, acting for The Muscatine Journal, made application for this newspaper to become a member of the rapidly growing Associated Press and the paper was promptly admitted into membership. Thus for nearly 40 years it has remained as one of the old and respected members of “The AP” – the world’s only cooperative, non-profit news gathering organization.

By 1920, after the close of the World war, the association pointed to a membership roll of 1,181 member newspapers and to a total of 65,000 miles of leased wires for news dissemination. By this time also high speed automatic teletype printers began to supplant the older Morse telegraph circuits in most cities, increasing the ever-quickening pace of news gathering. During these years too the development of modern photography and the perfection of methods by which pictures could be printed made newspaper readers and editors alike picture-conscious.

When Kent Cooper became general manager of The AP in 195 he saw that pictures had become as important as words in the field of news. The Associated Press quickly set up a photo service to collect and distribute news pictures just as the organization had been collecting and distributing news stories. As pictures became more popular newspaper readers wanted to see the pictures of news events at the same time that they read the written account of the news. The telegraphic speed of news transmission made this impossible, however, and The Associated Press sought a means to speed the delivery of pictures to make it possible to publish pictures with the news, not days or weeks behind.

The problem was solved in 1935 when The Associated Press began operation of its Wirephoto network and became the first news organization to send pictures by wire, just as news is sent.

The Associated Press continued its growth until now, operating on a budget of $11,000,000 annually, it services more than 1,400 member newspapers and operates 285,000 miles of leased wires for the transmission of its news.

News bureaus are maintained in the great news centers across the nation, in Washington and in state capitals from coast to coast, in New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, New Orleans and in smaller cities along the way – everywhere necessary to provide The AP with sift coverage of the news of any particular territory.

Besides The AP’s own staff of hundreds of trained newspapermen and women, there are the staffs of the hundreds of member newspapers also contributing to the great task of reporting the news of the day because each member paper as part of its membership privilege provides the news of its area to the association.

And in addition to the huge domestic staff, American-trained newspaper men man the bureaus in the capitals abroad, in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berne, Budapest, Amsterdam, Madrid, Tokyo, Shanghai, Peiping. Others have roving assignments and go from place to place as the foreign scene shifts …

(Continued in Section 1 Page 15)

Section 1 Page 15

Journal Included With AP Pioneers

… so that newspaper readers at home can have first hand accounts written by newspapers from home.

Wire Network Utilized.

A huge network of wires criss-crosses the United States to carry the news to the member newspapers of the association. Main trunk lines radiate from New York, Kansas City and San Francisco touching all the major cities in between. Other “regional” wires parallel the main news wires to carry news of interest to a particular region, the south, northeast, southwest or west. Still more wires extend into the various individual states from headquarter bureaus within the states. In this way newspapers both large and small can receive news swiftly through the simple method of a system of quick relays across the country.

For instance, news of prime interest to newspaper readers in Muscatine occurs at Washington, the nation’s capital. Associated Press staff men get the story, accurately, without prejudice or bias toward the facts or persons concerned. Out of The Associated Press bureau in Washington the story speeds direct to the Journal and within a matter of minutes after the event occurs or the information becomes available the story is in the hands of the editor at Muscatine.

Stories from abroad come with equal speed. From The Associated Press bureau in London a leased cable gores direct to the foreign news desk in the New York office. News from London, or news telephoned by foreign correspondents in other European capitals in touch with London, travels directly over the transoceanic wire to the nerve center of The AP in New York for relay across the nationwide network of news wires. Cables running direct to New York brings news in from many of the other capitals.

Teletypes Speed Copy

In every case the news goes to the Associated Press member newspapers over high speed, automatic teletype printers which rap out the words of the news stories at the rate of 60 per minute. Three thousand of these machines are located in strategic bureaus and member paper offices to facilitate the news transmission.

The Associated Press news bureaus operate 24 hours a day pouring a volume of approximately 200,000 words daily into newspaper offices from coast to coast – items of state, national or international importance, politics, sports news, human interest bits of universal appeal, a daily cross-section of the world’s activities.

The Journal, through its membership in The Associated Press thus has an $11,000,000 organization in its employ maintaining a daily ‘round the clock watch on state, national and international affairs and reporting the news as it occurs. All these things are possible for The Journal because of its membership in The AP, a membership it has enjoyed for 37 years.

News is divided into two classes, the expected and the unexpected. The Associated Press with its world-wide staff anticipates the expected and is ready for any emergency he unexpected might bring so newspaper readers in Muscatine can have quickly comprehensive stories of these events.

In the nearly four decades during which The Associated Press has brought the Muscatine Journal the news of the world, the world has passed through some of its most momentous years. The faded, brittle files of countless of forgotten dispatches made up the daily chronicle of the march of mighty events – the Civil war, the winning of the American west, the rise of the United States to the rank of a world power, the surpassing achievements of science and invention, the cataclysmic World war.

And now the dispatches are recording another grim, momentous story – the new European war the outcome of which no one can foretell.

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