JOURNALISM IS LOCALby
Archie P. McDonald
Millard Lewis Cope
O’Neil reminded us that “all politics is local.” Millard Cope taught us that the
best journalism is local, too. |
Though I never met Mr. Cope, who served
as publisher of the Marshall New-Messenger for seventeen years, learning
about his contributions to East Texas and the world from the pen and prose of
Max Lale leads me to applaud and appreciate him.
Millard Lewis Cope was
born in Sonora, Texas, in 1905. He began
a career in journalism that lasted until his death in 1964 by setting type for
the local newspaper for “a nickel a stick,” or approximately two inches.
Cope worked on his school newspaper at Sonora High School, and also served on
the board of the Texas High School Press Association. He attended Baylor and Howard
Payne College before completing a degree in journalism at the University of Missouri
A position on the staff of the San
Angelo Morning Star was Cope’s first post-graduate job in journalism.
By 1930 he had become publisher of the Sweetwater
Reporter, moved to the Denison
Herald in 1936, and to the Marshall
News Messenger in 1945. In Marshall,
Cope found his “place.” Over the next seventeen years Cope became a national figure
in journalism. He served on the board of Associated Press and as president of
the Southern Newspaper publishers Association.
Shivers appointed Cope to the original Texas State Historical Survey Commission,
later renamed the Texas Historical Commission, and Governor Price
Daniel appointed him to the Texas Civil War Centennial Commission. President
John F. Kennedy appointed Cope to the advisory council of the Peace Corps in 1963.
appointment doubtless was requested by the Corps’ first director, Bill Moyers,
who began a career in journalism at the News Messenger, and who credited
Cope with teaching him how to be a journalist, especially one with ethics, as
he also had tutored Cissy Stewart, leading columnist with the Fort Worth Star
Telegram, and Jack McGuire, author of a syndicated column on Texas. Max Lale
also worked at the New Messenger for eight years in what he calls “The
Millard Cope School of Journalism,” and later became publisher of the Greenville
Said Moyers, “In a way [Cope] was to small-town publishing
in the 40s and 50s what William Allen White was to small-town editing, although
White’s reputation spread through his writing, and Millard Cope’s through personal
© Archie P. McDonald |
26, 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association.
Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books