Tucson, Arizona , United States
|| March 16, 1909
|Died||July 08, 1999
|Last Modifed||Mr. Matt|
Mar 08, 2013 11:45pm
|Info||The (Phoenix) Journal's founder, Robert Morrison, is a onetime California farmer who migrated to Arizona during the Depression, studied law, served two terms as state attorney general, and in 1958 stood as Democratic candidate for Governor. |
During the campaign the staunchly Republican Republic unwrapped several dubious chapters from Morrison's past. His real name, reported the Republic, was
Berj Mosekian—until he had it legally changed. He had served jail time in California for passing bad checks. His first wife had divorced him for desertion and nonsupport. Morrison lost. Retired to private law practice, he blamed the Republic for his defeat, dreamed up ways to stage a comeback. Finally, he decided that the best way to do it was to start an opposition paper.
Paring Costs. After years of listening to the one-note Republicanism of Pulliam's two papers, even Phoenix Republicans were eager for another tune. When Morrison offered stock shares in his new publishing venture, the response was reassuring. Some 10,000 Arizonans have invested $1,500,000 in Arizona Newspapers, Inc. Of the investors, 95% have holdings of $200 or less; Morrison's personal investment—about $75,000—is the largest single block, but it represents only 5% of the total.
To pare both starting and operating costs, the Journal filled its plant with the latest mechanical equipment—much of it leased to avoid a heavy capital investment.
Some $350,000 in offset press equipment, for example, is leased from R. Hoe & Co. of New York City, on terms that permit the paper to pay off its debt over a period of ten years.
Morrison has also recruited his fellow stockholders as unpaid Journal promoters.
For a month before the paper's birth, he brought them in, in groups of 150, for nightly tours of the new plant, and gave them all the same Morrison pep talk: "Now I want you folks to aid our advertising department. Whenever you folks trade in any store, please say to the person who waits on you, 'I hope you people are advertising in my paper.' Be sure to say 'my paper.' " This relentless pressure has already convinced more than one wavering account.
Losing the Urge. As the infant Journal got over its birth pangs, it took on the look of a paper that means well but still has much to learn. The news section adequately covered the highlights of local events, e.g., a current Phoenix bus strike and a hot dispute among state senators over committee appointments. As for its editorial policy, it was somewhat muted; the first issues confined themselves to praising the Journal's 10,000 investors and its new equipment. The militant voice of liberalism that Phoenix expected will probably issue most loudly from some of the Journal's syndicated columnists, among them Joseph Alsop, Doris Fleeson, Walter Lippmann and the New York Times' James B. Reston.
Somewhere between his political defeat in 1958 and assembly of the Journal's 45-man editorial staff (some of them castoffs from recently defunct dailies, e.g., the Detroit Times and the New Orleans Item }, bald, energetic Bob Morrison, 52, has lost the urge to get even with Gene Pulliam.
In its editorial salute to stockholders, the Journal took note of Phoenix need for "a new independent newspaper dedicated to the highest principles of fairness and objectivity." Said Democrat Morrison last week: "We'll support Democrats. But if they go haywire, we'll take them to the woodshed. We'll support Republicans and treat them the same way."
* The trouble did not end with the first issue. The second issue also did not get delivered until afternoon—and the third went down to a slim 16 pages, as press time on the Journal's four operating units was pre-empted for preprinting supplement sections of the Sunday edition.