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Front Page » November 5, 2009 » Carbon County News » Partisanship was common in early days of newspaper
Published 2,168 days ago

Partisanship was common in early days of newspaper

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In these modern times people often complain that one news source or another is biased towards the left or the right. Some label newspapers as left leaning, while most talk show hosts get accused of right leaning, and in the world of television there seems to be a network for every point of view. Some of these outwardly say what they are, others do not.

While this seems like a fairly new phenomenon to those that grew up in what some considered a "news neutral" environment that supposedly existed during the last 60 years, it is nothing new.

In the early days of widely circulated newspapers it was not unusual for them to declare themselves as dedicated to one political cause or another. That is the reason why many papers in the United States are called names like the Daily Democrat or the Republican Observer. In the case of Carbon County, no paper that came forth in the early days of the 20th century used the names of parties, but that still didn't preclude them from saying which parties they supported.

When the News-Advocate was formed from the Carbon County News and the acquisition of the name of the Eastern Utah Advocate, the owners immediately announced that their paper would be Republican in its stance on politics.

By the early 1920s this stance was becoming more important as they began to publish more and more about Republican politics and seldom had any news of Democrats in the area.

On January 15, 1920, the mark was struck even deeper as then editor and manager of the News-Advocate ran four front page stories touting the Republican party. They included stories headed by "Republicans gather on Lincoln Day," Utah Republicans cheer as chairman Hays tells of 1920 duties of party," and a piece headed by the words "The Republican Platform." That fourth story, however, was of the most interested in those that look to newspapers reporting without bias. It was titled "Editors organize to aid GOP."

The week before during a state Republican gathering the aforementioned (William Hays) met with "Republican editors" from around the state to find ways to help the GOP be more successful. The article stressed that "he talked informally for about a half hour with the newspaper boys pointing out how they could help the Republican party gain a victory in county, state and nation and thus serve their country." Hays further urged the editors present to start a state organization that would support the GOP through the press.

The editors went over a set of bylaws that had been adopted by a similar organization in the state of Indiana and decided to form a preliminary committee to form it. Editors included in the committee and named to leadership posts included one from the Ogden Standard Examiner, The Park City Record, the Iron County Record, the Logan Republican, the Provo Post and the Kaysville Reflex. Most interesting to Carbon residents was the fact that the president of the new organization was to be H. W. Cooper, the manager and editor of the News-Advocate.

Over the next few weeks it was reported in Cooper's paper that the state had taken kindly to an offer that was put together in the newspaper office to have the state Republican convention that year in Price. Plans were made, an invitation forwarded to the state party and once accepted by the state organization, a huge committee of local Republicans joined in to accommodate the convention. Cooper ever reported in the January 29 issue that "even Democrats in the county will be glad of an opportunity helping to entertain so big a convention as that of one of the two leading political parties."

In the beginning R.W. Crockett, who had run the Eastern Utah Advocate and later, after losing that name to the Carbon County News via a legal miscalculation, had declared his paper as neutral in its politics when he took over in 1908. When he lost the papers name he just began publishing The Sun, which was really a just an extension of his previous newspaper; he even had the subscriber list and they didn't miss an issue.

Over the years his politics had changed, but while he was not willing to declare The Sun as a "Democratic" paper, he was drawn into the conflict by the very fact that Cooper did take sides. The rancor between the two papers had already been bad for five years, and now it was about to get worse.

This is one in a series of articles concerning the history of the newspapers in Carbon County that will run through the end of 2011 when the Sun Advocate will be celebrating its 120th year in business.

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