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Jun 21

Klaxon horn, Ford, Studebaker, Maxwell early cars

May 6, 1916 Daily Telegram Automobile page

C.L. Day purchased the Daily Telegram after a journalism career working his way up to an editorship in Long Beach.  Clarence Leonard Day bought the failing paper in March of 1912 and took the title president. Founded as a temperance booster the Telegram  was now $7,000 in debt and the stockholders had spent $35,000 (according to US inflation calculator 1913-2010, $771,336.36).
The Telegram looked more like a weak newsletter than a newspaper, only getting excited when alcohol was on the table.
The dominant paper, the Tribune had several advantages. Benjamin Brooks, the editor had bought his paper under similar dire financial circumstances and turned it around. It was now the traditionalists paper, well connected with the Mission, Southern Pacific Railroad, Republican politics and real estate. Brooks had been active in bringing the railroad to town and boosting the idea of paved streets and sewers.  He was by profession an attorney, who had been involved in an early cable car system proposed in San Francisco and had worked for the Southern Pacific.
When Brooks visited family on the Central Coast, local Republicans convinced the bright young man to buy an interest in the paper in 1885. Brooks had been editor for 27 years when the upstart Day came to town. Brooks had outlasted other challengers and he knew most the major news makers in town on sight.
Brooks and Day will wage a sometimes bitter newspaper war for 13 years. Day’s competitive drive and design skill will revived the Telegram eventually becoming the circulation leader. The professional big city editor brought new ideas to a sleepy cow town. Day would his paper’s independence in the nameplate.
The Telegram would embrace a formula that worked for E.W. Scripps. Make the  paper readable with punchy headlines and tightly edited stories. The pages were easy to read with cartoons, and wire service features that catered to women in addition to hard news on the front page. Keep costs low and sell the paper at a low price so that working people can afford it.
Day also had pages that packaged articles and advertising together when he sensed a building new wave like automobile products. The Ford ad touts that there are over 1 million Fords on the road, over half. The days of downtown stables and horse tie ups were numbered. America was falling in love with the car.
The older Tribune, with all it’s old school connections, was slow to embrace new technology.
Meanwhile the Telegram would regularly have a page of local and wire stories combined with advertising on the marvelous new wonder.
Today Google places ads next to copy and calls it relevance. They laugh at the current tradition in print media that began sometime in the middle of the 20th century.
The advertising staff was put in a different part of the building than the editorial staff and efforts were made to keep a firewall between them.
Day walked the line proclaiming independence when it suited him and embracing advertisers when he thought their interests matched the readers. His independence would transform the Telegram from sinking underdog to circulation leader.
Newspapers would begin to consolidate in the 1930s and most often the survivor would be the paper that was more independent and covered news that readers found relevant and useful.

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