News for an Empire

There was evidence in this first issue that the journalists from Chicago were anticipating a scrap. With chip-on-the-shoulder emphasis, they told their readers: “The owners of THE SPOKESMAN are the men who edit and publish it,” and warned outside publications, “This is our huckleberry patch.”

Ten days after this spirited challenge, the owners of the Review started their new plant and building, to cost upwards of $100,000, a figure that spoke volumes as to the kind of competition The Spokesman could expect from their Portland-controlled rival.

The Chronicle had also become a competitor to reckon with. Just the month before, J. J. Browne, one of the Chronicle’s founders, had bought it back from its current owners, W. D. Knight and J. S. Dickinson. The price was $30,000. No longer could one start in the newspaper business in Spokane Falls on a shoestring!

A former school superintendent of Multnomah County, Oregon, and ambitious to be elected to Congress, Browne bought the Chronicle to advance his political fortunes. He could well afford what the paper cost him. In the nine years that had passed since he had helped launch the Chronicle as a four-page weekly he had become wealthy from a big law practice and the skyrocketing values of his real-estate holdings. The year after he bought the evening Chronicle the Spokane county assessor calculated the value of Browne’s realestate holdings in Spokane County as $690,650.

Reaching the shrewd conclusion that the Chronicle should have an editor measuring up to the standard set by his morning rivals, Browne installed able, twenty-seven-year-old Simon R. Flynn as his managing editor. As delegate to the constitutional convention at Olympia in July, the year before, Browne had met Flynn, who was covering the sessions for the Tacoma Ledger, and had bid him away from Alfred Holman, since 1888 editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Before coming West as “special agent on Indian depredations,” Flynn had been news editor and special writer for the Washington (B.C.) Capitol, in charge of the Government Advertiser, on the Washington staff of the Baltimore Sun, and then special correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, New York Herald, Boston Herald, and Chicago Tribune.

Also published in Spokane Falls at this time were the Evening Globe, successor to the Sunday Globe; two monthly papers, the Investor’s Journal and the Frontier, and five weeklies the West Shore, the Mining and Lumbering Journal, the Spokane Post, the Industrial World and Spokane Falls Echo.

This was a sobering array of competition. To meet it there was crying need on The Spokesman for additional capital, but none was in sight. Unfortunately, the politicians that promoter Horace Brown had counted on for support had failed to come through with financial aid.

But no one would have suspected the shortage of capital from the kind of paper put out by The Spokesman. It gave readers features and services which were a novelty in Spokane Falls at that time.