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Weakest of the four papers is the Ledger. Its circulation is only 170,000 but it makes a petty profit (for 1938, around $10,000). Publisher since the resignation, under pressure, of John Charles Martin last winter has been good-looking young Gary Bok, who with stubborn Dutch pride is determined to make a go of the paper. Two months ago Publisher Bok hired the best-publicized (by himself) city editor of his time, Stanley Walker, away from the New York Herald Tribune to be the Ledger'?, editor. Editor Walker has pepped up the Ledger'?, treatment of news, put some life into its editorial page, installed a Saturday feature called Fellow Traveler ("An Unterrified Organ for Most Folks") in which he burlesques the staid old Bulletin's, features (see below).
Most noteworthy accomplishment of the Bok-Walker regime has been to cut the Ledger loose from the Republican organization of Sun Oilman Joseph Newton Pew. Though Gary Bok hates & fears the New Deal (his brother Curtis loves it), three weeks ago the Ledger declared its independence by knocking the reactionary record of the Republican Legislature, which had rejected a City Charter Bill for Philadelphia, failed to reduce taxes and emasculated the State's labor legislation. When Joe Pew hurried down to set Publisher Bok straight, Gary Bok called in President George Kearney and Editor Walker, introduced them as "the men who are running the Ledger"
Sedatest. In the corpulent 19203 the
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin made a profit estimated at $1,500,000 a year. Nowadays its net is nearer $100,000, but it is by far the most going newspaper concern in the city. The Bulletin gets more than half of all Philadelphia's advertising revenue (its lowest milline rate is 40¢, twice that of the other papers), has a circulation of 440,000. The nice old lady of Philadelphia journalism, the Bulletin has for many a year been distinguished for thorough, accurate and dull reporting, for full coverage of its vast circulation area (which includes South Jersey, Delaware and the Eastern Shore), for its sometimes insipid impartiality, its characteristically modest slogan ("Nearly Everyone in Philadelphia Reads the Bulletin"), its front-page jokes and weather box (including Delaware River tides), its three columns of English cartoons on the valuable back page, and its Ethical Problem letters.*
Even the Bulletin has lately been dolling herself up to meet the growing competition. Behind a new glass-brick building front diagonally facing City Hall is the most elegant, air-conditioned, soundproofed city room in the U. S. But the most significant change since Publisher (and A. P. President) Robert McLean took over after his father's death in 1931 has been in personnel. In 1936 Publisher McLean brought in an unknown ex-rewrite man from the west, Wisler Gable ("Bill") Zeamer, made him executive editor over the heads of many an oldtime Bulletin executive. Bill Zeamer has been handicapped by illness that keeps him away from work two or three days a week. Last week he chose his own assistant to carry on when he is away.