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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin

Chapter XVI: The press of Menomonie,   pp. 124-133

Page 124

The Dunn County News.-The intelligence of a community is to a large extent
reflected in its press. To conduct a successful newspaper the editor and publisher
must be quick to gauge the modes of thought of the public upon whom he depends
for support, and to ascertain their attitude with respect not only to local needs and
interests, but also in regard to the broader questions of politics, both domestic and
foreign, education, new inventions affecting civic or social interests, and many other
things that have more or less to do with the daily life of the average citizen, or
which may affect their children in years to come. To a certain extert he may act
as a guide or teacher, but not in an arbitrary sense regardless of public opinion, or
his public will soon desert him. His chief business is to print the rews, and sec-
ondly, in his editorial capacity, to at-c as a sort of intellectual filter in straining out
and presenting in its purest form the best and strongest sentiment of the ccmmunity,
with such modifications or emphasis as may be suggested by his own knowledge
and experience, which, after all, is but public sentiment condensed and clarified
through an individual medium.
All this is no light task when it is remembered that a newspaper is not merely
an educational, but a business institution, and must be made to pay.  Any serious
mistake may ruin its commercial success, and even when no such mistakes are
made, there are various other causes which may operate adversely and lead to
failure. Competition, the wealth or poverty of a ccrrrnunity, its average intelli-
gence and degree of business enterprise expressing itself through the advertising
columns, are all factors which enter into the matter and have to be taken into
consideration. When a newspaper, therefore, can point to its begin_,ning in a pio-
neer community and to 65 years of steady growth without an\ notable embarrass-
ment or misfortune, it argues exceptionally good managemnent, as well as reasonably
favorable conditions of operation.
On April 21, 1910, the Dunn County News published a "Semi-Centennial Edi-
tion," in which it reviewed its 50 years of history up to that time. From that re-
view the following account is taken nearly in full, such brief portions only being
omitted that are not essential to the main story, or which are more conveniently
printed elsewhere in this volume. Enough has been added to bring the narrative
up to date.
"Fifty years ago (65 this year, 1925) the reading public of Dunn County greeted
the initial appearance of their first newspaper. Like Menomonie's first industrial
enterprise, like nearly every important undertaking in the early days here, like the
the very community itself, it had its inception at the hands of those sturdy, saga-
cious builders who furnished the brain and sinew of the great business concern
known as Knapp, Stout & Co.
"Appropriately, the newspaper in its beginning was called The Dunn County
Lumberman. In those days nearly every material interest in this section, if not
actually bound up in, was at least related to, the vast enterprise whose character
was indicated by that title. As time went on the young community took on more
diversified interests. Lines of mercantile and industrial activity were developed
and a symmetrical growth was ere long manifest, in which many spheres of action
were in evidence. While the prosperity and progress of them all depended to a
great degree upon the central motive force which has taken form in the mammoth
mills upon the pond bank where the river currents bore down frcm the pineries
the potential sources of great wealth, at the same time the ramifications of ccmmu-
nity life gradually led to the feeling that the place was something more than a
lumber camp. It began as the years went by to assume the aspect cf a small city,
some pretentious in its appearance and its purposes as cities of its class were reck-

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