Tabloid wizard’s first edition — on Wikipedia

This is an experiment… This afternoon I wrote a full page contribution to Wikipedia, one of the first times I have created a page there from scratch. Why? I saw an odd and misspelled reference to a 1920s newspaper editor on the Wikipedia page about the Hartford Courant, where I worked in the 1970s. Before I left I had become fascinated by that particular editor, Emile Gauvreau, who left Hartford to become editor of two of the nation’s most sensational tabloid newspapers of the Roaring Twenties.

At one point I even thought I might try to write a book about the guy.

He may have been a conscience-tortured scandalmonger, but he deserved to have his name spelled right. And after correcting the Hartford Courant wiki page, I noticed that turning his name into a link did not send it to a previously existing biography page… So I sat down and wrote one. Fatigue set in and I didn’t do as much as I could have.. The battles between him and Walter Winchell we’re amazing, with Winchell comparing him to Napoleon and calling him a cripple because he had a limp, and Gauvreau dismissing Winchell as a vaudeville hoofer who had risen above his station by destroying the English language and making an industry out of gossip. But to include those things from memory on Wikipedia would have meant dredging up some references and going through the tedium of formatting them properly for the Wikipedia reference system. I own maybe a dozen books by or about Gauvreau and the Graphic as well as a few 90 year old copies of the paper.

For Wikipedia, I pulled a history of the Hartford Courant and Gauvreau’s autobiography off my shelves and cited them as references, along with a Columbia Journalism Review article that is really little more than a extract from the autobiography.

I did not cite my own articles about the New York Evening Graphic, because I suspect Wikipedia frowns on self- citation. They consist of academic conference papers that I wrote in 1997 and 2003, and a web page I self-published, originally on a University of North Carolina server, so that I could share some of the Graphic’s controversial images with students and colleagues, while also demonstrating my skill at old school web page publishing.

Today’s contribution to the world’s knowledge is a brief Wikipedia biography of Emile Gauvreau, which, it being Wikipedia, does not carry my byline and can be immediately edited, improved, or vandalized by anyone.

That is where the “experiment” I mentioned in the first sentence comes in… I am pasting below the full text of the page as I left it after today’s editing session. There may still be a typo or two, and the things shown in italic on Wikipedia probably appear in a different font here. But the text should be just what I wrote. I hope to check back in a month or two and see whether anyone has added to it, edited it, fixed or unfixed anything I wrote.

Here it is:


Emile Gauvreau (1891-1956) was an American journalist, newspaper and magazine editor and author of novels and nonfiction books.

Born in Centerville, Connecticut, he got his start in newspapers at the New Haven Journal-Courier, before moving on in 1916 to the Hartford Courant, as reporter, legislative reporter, Sunday editor, and assistant managing editor, becoming managing editor at the age of 25.[1]

He launched the newspaper’s artgravure picture section and its Sunday magazine, and, according to the paper’s historian, John Bard McNulty, “developed a strong partiality for the banner headline.” The young editor’s style suited The Roaring Twenties more than the newspaper known as the “Old Lady of State Street,” and led to his dismissal in 1924 over a sensational series alleging that medical quacks were operating in the state with credentials from diploma mills. He was asked for his resignation, but wrote that he left with a healthy bank account thanks to his Hartford Courant stock. [2]

Having helped compensate for a lame leg with exercises from Physical Culture publisher Bernarr Macfadden, and having written confession-style stories for Macfadden’s True Story magazine, Gauvreau went to New York to inquire about more freelancing for the eccentric magazine publisher, but was surprised to be offered the opportunity to start a daily tabloid newspaper for Macfadden. It was to compete with the New York Daily News, America’s first tabloid, which was soon joined by Hearst Daily Mirror.

Macfadden had wanted to call his paper The Truth,but eventually settled for the name New York Evening Graphic, with Gauvreau as managing editor. Along with focusing on sensational crime stories, photos, and Macfadden’s health crusades, its experimental policies including first-person stories by ghostwriter assisted newsmakers, and composite photos that illustrated scenes for which the paper could not get a real photograph. In his autobiography, Gauvreau, who had drawn newspaper cartoons in his early days, took both credit and blame for the composograph, and admitted getting carried away with it, creating farcical bedroom scenes to a company’s stories about a sensational divorce case.

He also took some of the credit for discovering and promoting Graphic staff members Walter Winchell, Ed Sullivan and others. Both Winchell and Gauvreau left the Graphic for Hearst’s Daily Mirror, continuing a longtime editor-columnist feud into the 1930s. [3]

Gauvreau’s 1935 book about a trip to Russia, What So Proudly We Hailed, got him fired by Hearst, but he continued to write, and later edited a pictorial magazine, Click, for Moses Annenberg of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His books, starting with two quasi-autobiographical novels about “tabloidia”, include Hot News (1931), The Scandalmonger (1932), What So Proudly We Hailed (1935), Dumbells and Carrot Strips (with Mary Macfadden, 1935), My Last Million Readers (1941), Billy Mitchell: founder of our Air Force and Prophet Without Honor (1942), and The Wild Blue Yonder: Sons of the Prophet Carry On ( with Lester Cohen, 1945).

Gauvreau was profiled by Michael Shapiro for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2011, under the title The Paper Chase For tabloid king Emile Gauvreau, it took a lifetime to slow down.

[4]

  1. ^ John Bard McNulty, Older than the nation, The Life and Times of the Hartford Courant… Oldest newspaper of continuous publication in America. 1964 Pequot Press
  2. ^ Emile Gauvreau, My Last Million Readers, Dutton 1941
  3. ^ Emile Gauvreau, My Last Million Readers, Dutton 1941
  4. Michael Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review, 2011,The Paper Chase For tabloid king Emile Gauvreau, it took a lifetime to slow down|https://archives.cjr.org/second_read/the_paper_chase.php

note: some of the font and formatting messiness is because this entire blog post was composed on an Android smartphone, and so was the Wikipedia entry. I may come back to this page to add a sensational Evening Graphic image or return to the Wikipedia page to add a picture of gauvreau.

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories
Archives