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E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and University Libraries celebrate E.W. Scripps Co. founding at centennial event

The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Ohio University Libraries are collaborating Nov. 2 to commemorate 100 years of journalism education at Ohio University with an exhibit titled “E.W. Scripps: Life & Legacy.”

The 3 p.m. exhibit opening on the fourth floor of Alden Library is the last of the school’s centennial events for 2023.

“E.W. Scripps was a late-19th century Cleveland publisher who created the first U.S. chain of newspapers that delivered the daily news to the working class,” said Dr. Eddith Dashiell, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. “His first newspaper, The Penny Press, which began publishing Nov. 2, 1877, was the beginning of a media empire that is now known as the E.W. Scripps Co. ”

Within 20 years of the Cleveland newspaper’s founding, the Scripps Co. owned newspapers from coast to coast, according to the company’s history posted to its website. Notable journalism firsts by the company include: founding of international wire service United Press (later United Press International) as a competitor to The Associated Press, the first wire delivery of photos, the first wire for radio, the first use of computers, the first transmission of news via satellite, the first TV news service and the founding of United Feature Syndicate (acquisition of “Peanuts” comic strip).

The exhibit will feature items from the E.W. Scripps Papers that coincide with important times and relationships in Edward Willis’ “E.W.’s” life. Specific items that will be on display include Scripps’ original correspondence, letter books, essays, as well as materials detailing his early career, his experiences during World War I and materials from his sister Ellen, who was a notable businesswoman, writer and philanthropist.

Dashiell said: “An important part of the Scripps Papers documents the political, social and journalism history of the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Our journalism program is proud to carry the name of E.W. Scripps and to continue his legacy of preserving journalism as a vital cornerstone of a democratic society.” 

The school was named after Mr. Scripps in 1982 following a national search by the Scripps family for a journalism school to receive the honor, according to the book “The Scripps School: Its Stories, People, and Legacy,” edited by the late Ralph Izard, a former director at the school.

The exhibit opening will feature a short presentation from Alexandra Hopkins, a sophomore studying journalism and an intern with the Mahn Center, and Greta Suiter, manuscripts archivist, who co-curated the exhibit and will explain what items were chosen and why.

Hopkins has been working on showcasing the legacy of Scripps’ newspapers and his life’s work since the beginning of fall semester.

“My experience has been amazing, and I’ve enjoyed working with the vast collection,” Hopkins wrote in an email. “I’ve always had an interest in history, so this is a great opportunity to be hands-on with archives.”

The Scripps collection is 187 boxes with a total of 70 cubic feet and more than 350,000 letters either to or from Scripps. The exhibit will not only highlight who Scripps was and what his life was like but also give viewers a chance to learn more about the history of newspapers and journalism with a personal touch.

“I hope that this exhibit will help put a face to the man that the journalism school is named after,” Hopkins wrote.

This is the third collaboration between University Libraries and the journalism school during the latter’s centennial celebration. The first was honoring D-Day journalists in a June 6 an exhibit titled “Commitment to Courage: Navigating the Everyday of World War II.” The second was the Oct. 6 celebration of the school’s Pulitzer Prize-winning former students.

October 26, 2023
Staff reports