Friday, April 28, 2017
“A typewriter means more to a newspaper than an adding machine”
- - John S. Knight
Jack Knight inherited the Akron Beacon Journal from his father, C.L. Knight, in 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression.
There was no money to meet the payroll. Employees received tokens they could take to local merchants who would accept them as IOU’s.
When he died in 1981 at the age of 86, Jack Knight had built a newspaper empire that was then the nation’s largest in terms of circulation. He was worth more than $400 million.
When JSK took his company public in 1969, he told stock analysts:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I do not intend to become your prisoner.”
25 years after his death, Wall Street got its revenge in 1974. An obscure money manager in Florida, trying to meet a profit target for his wealthy investors, forced the sale of the company. That was a sad day in American newspaper history.
JSK’s motto: “Get the truth and print it.”
In 1968, the year he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for his opposition to the Vietnam war and for his support of the free speech rights of dissenters on American campuses, his Detroit Free Press and Charlotte Observer also won Pulitzers, making Knight Newspapers the first publisher in history to win three in the same year.
The BJ often helped employees finance home and car loans. That came from the top.
Bill Catalona caddied at Akron area golf courses for JSK. Catalona was accepted to medical school but had no money to pay his tuition, JSK gave him the first John S. Knight scholarship. Dr. Catalona practiced in Muscatine, Iowa. They were friends for life.
Ken Krause provided Gene's gems. Reporter Clark Hoyt provided information used for this article.