Chapter 18

CHAPTER XVIII.

MONEY IN NEWSPAPERS.

Fortunes in Printers’ Ink—Value of the New York Herald Plant—Story of Mr. Pulitzer’s Struggles—From a Park Bench to a Newspaper Throne—Alfred Harnsworth, the Greatest Paper Man in the World—Serving the News Hot—Secret of the Springfield Republican Success—A Prophet as Well as an Editor—How Reporters Earn Big Salaries—Motto, the Penny Reform—Seven Papers in One—Some New Advertising Schemes—Magazines for the Million.

A newspaper undertaking is a great financial risk, but at the same time it is one of the richest lodes of success if the proprietor has the capital and the qualities needed. Mr. Whitelaw Reid has amassed a fortune in the New York Tribune. James Gordon Bennett, proprietor of the paper originated by the senior of that name, estimates his plant as worth $22,000,000. Mr. Pulitzer, of the New York World, was a poor boy who slept on the park benches. He got an idea, a little money, formed new plans, and struck out on an untrod path. He rattled the dry bones of his contemporaries, and he is to-day a millionaire many times over. Dana made his fortune on The Sun by his fearless, outspoken editorials, using the plainest Anglo-Saxon. Hearst, of the New York Journal, succeeded by his sensationalism. Alfred Harnsworth, an Englishman and a very young man, began the publication of a paper called Answer with very small capital. Before the age of thirty he became a millionaire. Now at thirty-two he is the chief proprietor of seven dailies and twenty-two other periodicals, and is the head of the largest publishing firm in the world, with a total weekly output of more than 7,000,000 copies. The author of this work has formulated over 200 plans for newspaper success. He is sure that the majority of these plans are absolutely new and perfectly feasible, but the scope of the work will not permit of the insertion of more than ten. The following ten are selected with the firm belief that if they are followed up with ordinary zeal and skill the paper cannot fail to have a very large circulation.

News and Editorial Department.

  1. The News in One Minute.—We live in electric times; men must have their news served hot. We want to swallow the day’s doings while we cross the ferry. Have an index on first page containing every item of news, and showing in what columns it can be found. Then, one can get the summary in a minute, while if he likes he can spend hours in the details.
  2. Nutshell News.—You may be sure that the paper which can give the news the quickest and neatest is going to the front. Some people care more for quantity than quality. A vast variety of news from all parts of the country, and each item condensed into a few lines, makes more impression on many people than a page devoted to a single tragedy. The Springfield Republican owes its success to its remarkable number of small items.
  3. The Bulletin Forecast.—Most daily papers give out a bulletin. Thousands stand on the street and read the free bulletin, but do not buy the paper. Have a forecast bulletin to read, “To-morrow’s News.” Then a speculation or prediction of what it will probably be. Put it in a sensational and interesting way. Thus: “The Bugle will tell you all about it to-morrow. Buy the Bugle.” In the paper, conclude each important item of news with the editor’s forecast of how the matter will turn out, thus giving it the interest of a continued story. Editors often treat a news item in an editorial, but a vast proportion of the readers never look at that page. Put the cream of the editorial, and especially several pointed questions, after the news item, with the information that the paper will try to solve the problem to-morrow.
  4. Bottom Facts.—Readers want facts, not reporters’ fancies nor embellishments. It is well known that in many papers reporters are allowed to invent when they have no facts in the case, and as they are paid by the piece it is for their interest to make as much of an item as they can. Hence, our news is adulterated, distorted, and often falsified. We know some reporters who have invented columns of so-called “Facts;” others who have made sensational, highly-colored stories out of the most insignificant occurrences; and still others who have invented fake reports of sermons, lectures, and other public utterances, when they had not time to obtain the originals. Have it clearly understood in large headlines as a part of the policy of the paper that no reporter will be allowed to invent or exaggerate, that he will be instantly discharged if it can be shown that he has in any way distorted the cold facts. In this way tens of thousands who are now disgusted with what is dished up for them as news but know not where to turn for better service, will be drawn to your paper, and you will establish the reputation for absolute truthfulness of statement and bald exactness of form.
  5. The People’s Paper.—Let it be understood that your sheet is distinctively a people’s paper, and is not the organ of any party, class, or corporation. Announce that you will publish letters from anybody, regardless of grammar, sentiment, or position, with the only limitation of decency and personality. Advocate persistently cheap and honest public service. Let one of your mottoes be: “A penny a letter and a penny a mile,” that is, the conviction that a letter ought to be sent anywhere in the United States for a penny, and that a man ought to be able to travel all over the country at the rate of a penny a mile. Have such mottoes as: “All the People Well Off,” “Equal Rights for Everybody,” “No Nepotism, no Partiality, no ‘Pulls.’”
  6. The Big Seven.—We have heard of the “Big Four” in railroading. Let your paper be seven sheets rolled into one, having one comprehensive name. Let the seven sheets each have a distinctive and peculiar title as if of a separate paper, and let each be devoted to a particular field. The Art Mirror will contain the pictures; the News Bureau will contain the crispiest news; the Sword and Pen will contain the most pungent editorials; the World Joker or the New York Clown will contain the comical things. Then there should be a “stock paper,” a “sporting paper,” etc. Let it be known that when a man buys The Earth for three cents, or for a penny, as the case may be, he really gets seven papers.

Advertising Department.

  1. Free Wants.—In establishing a paying paper you lose nothing by what you give away. You can well afford to give away space that costs you nothing. Before your circulation is large enough to attract advertisers, you must devise some other means of attracting them. Advertise that on a certain day you will insert everybody’s wants free. This will introduce your paper to a large number of persons, who will not only buy the copy in which their want appears, but will in many cases be ready to pay a little when they next need the services of your sheet.
  2. Bargain Bureau.—Have a bargain bureau on the first page or in some other prominent place, and let it be understood that you will each day in this bureau call attention to the bargains especially advertised for that day, and to any new or special feature contained in the advertising columns. You will thus please and draw advertisers, and at the same time attract readers who want to know what, where, and when to buy.
  3. Reserve Space.—Have a large blank square or rectangle with the announcement that “This space is reserved for —— ——.” After two or three days people will begin to wonder who will fill the great blank. It becomes by far the most prominent and valuable advertising space in the paper, and should command a good round sum. Make a profitable bargain for a month or year for the filling of the space. If withdrawn, announce, “This space will now be filled by —— ——.” The first advertiser’s rival will pretty surely want it, a result which No. 1 will hardly permit if he can help it, and so between competitors in business your blank will always be, filled and you can raise your price if competition becomes sharp.
  4. The Page Contract.—When your advertising patronage becomes large and you find it necessary to employ assistants, you will find it to your advantage to let the advertising out in contracts to your subordinates. Instead of paying your helpers a salary, you tell them that they can have a page for $50 or $500 (according to the size of the page and the number of the circulation). They then secure the advertisements themselves and make what they can. They and not you take the risk. Many assistants would not be willing to do that, but others would prefer the opportunity to work for themselves in this way.

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