Here, Griffith (History/Villanova) sees William Allen White's career as a ""window"" for understanding the ""role of...

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HOME TOWN NEWS: William Allen White and the Emporia Gazette

Here, Griffith (History/Villanova) sees William Allen White's career as a ""window"" for understanding the ""role of journalism in American culture,"" and examines the small-town ethos served and promoted by White's Emporia (Kansas) Gazette from the mid-1890's through the 1920's. White was an enthusiastic ""booster"" of Emporia's local businesses, social order, and culture, and one who excoriated the mail-order companies and chain stores for draining away local money. He also used his paper to further the cause of temperance and condemn drunkenness, gambling, and sexual immorality. A supporter of the status. quo, the Gazette revealed names when a member of the working class strayed, but usually protected the gentry. By the 1920's, when articles and folksy short stories published in national magazines had made White renowned as the ""Sage of Emporia,"" he turned day-to-day operations of the Gazette over to younger hands--who made it considerably more cosmopolitan, less dependent on Republican Party patronage, and an advertising vehicle for national brands and the automotive industry. White never severed his small-town roots, however, continuing to laud the self-reliant, neighborly aspects of small towns even as he tried to make Emporia intellectually and materially ""up-to-date."" According to Griffith, ""His boosterism prevented him from fully understanding how such efforts to keep abreast of urban trends undermined. . .the importance of local life."" Assiduously documented; but Griffith fails to breathe life into White and into Emporia. Of interest mostly to historians, journalists, and Americana buffs.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0195055896

Page Count: -

Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988