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Contributed by Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records: State Library of Arizona
William H. Lyon, in his book Those Old Yellow Dog Days: Frontier Journalism in Arizona 1859-1912, argues that "politics was the great generative force of frontier newspapers." This certainly holds true for Phoenix's first newspaper, the Salt River Herald, which began publication on January 26, 1878. Territorial Secretary John J. Gosper, along with Charles Beach of Prescott's Weekly Arizona Miner [LCCN: sn82014897], established the paper, whose first issue was printed in the Miner's office. Beach secured the equipment for Editor Charles E. McClintock, who later became a co-owner. By 1879, the Salt River Herald had changed its name to the Phoenix Herald. Gosper and Beach were soon at odds as the semiweekly newspaper engaged in rivalries with other local papers, including the Arizona Gazette [LCCN: sn97060102], established in 1880 by former Herald foreman Charles H. McNeil.
Throughout its history, the Herald engaged its adversaries over politics, claims of plagiarism, and even discrepancies involving shared telegrams from the Associated Press. According to Lyon, in one incident, the Arizona Republican [LCCN: sn84020558] accused the Herald of printing "grapevine-baseless rumors," rather than actual news. Lyon also notes that name calling was rampant, with rival newspapers characterizing McClintock as "a silly puppy," describing the Herald editor as having "a cranium inflated with gas and entirely void of sense, perhaps caused by cerebropathy," and labeling the Herald a "dirty vilifying paper." McClintock responded in kind, calling the Miner, a newspaper with which the Herald had formerly been associated, an "antiquated pi-box" (which, Lyon explains, is a reference to the receptacle where unimportant or unused "pied" type is deposited). The mud-slinging was cut short when McClintock died in 1881, just after putting the Phoenix Herald on a firm footing. Gosper bought his interest in the Herald from McClintock's widow.
Nathan A. Morford succeeded McClintock as editor of the newspaper, now known as the Weekly Phoenix Herald, in 1882. Like Gosper, Morford would go on to become territorial secretary. During his editorship, Morford dealt with labor issues and wage disputes. According to Lyon, the Typographical Union's efforts to restructure the Herald were ineffectual, and the union only succeeded in raising workers' pay by minimal amounts. In 1890, Morford helped organize the Arizona Press Association, whose goals were to formalize relationships among editors, encourage newspaper writing, and create standard prices for newspaper services.
Financial trouble plagued the Herald. In 1891, the paper reported that its well-being was threatened because of substantial amounts of money owed it by the Weekly Republican [LCCN: sn89077832]. In 1896, Frank Murphy, president of the Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix Railroad, bought the Arizona Weekly Republican [LCCN: sn89077833] and hired Charles C. Randolph as editor. In 1899, the Weekly Republican in turn bought the Herald (now the Phoenix Weekly Herald). The consolidated newspaper became the Republican-Herald [LCCN: sn83025464], followed by the Arizona Republican [LCCN: sn83025465] in 1900, and finally the Weekly Republican [LCCN: sn83025466] in 1901.
Salt River Herald Titles Available on AMP
Salt River Herald
Years of publication: 1878-1879, Years digitized: 1878-1879
The Phoenix Herald
Years of publication: 1879-1882, Years digitized: 1879-1882
Weekly Phoenix Herald
Years of publication: 1882-1896, Years digitized: 1882-1895
Phoenix Weekly Herald
Years of publication: 1896-1899, Years digitized: 1896-1898