( Originally Published 1913 )
THE syndicate publisher is a modern institution. Until quite recently he did not exist. The syndicate furnishes to newspapers of every class, every grade and kind of matter, presumably acceptable to the common reader.
The syndicate purchases an original manuscript, or the matter may have appeared in book form or in some magazine. If the latter, it obtains the privilege of selling it to one or more newspapers. The matter is set in type, and a number of proofs are taken of it. Most of it, however, is stereotyped, and is sent out in the form of plates or matrices.
The syndicate company usually pays either a lump sum for the newspaper rights of an article, or it may reimburse the author by giving him a percentage of the gross receipts.
The story or article in proof is submitted to the newspapers, but only one paper in a city, town, or territory is allowed to subscribe for it.
The newspaper pays a stated price for exclusive rights within the field of its circulation, this sum varying with the size of the newspaper and the importance of its territory.
Probably the highest sum paid by any one newspaper for a syndicate article or story has not exceeded three hundred dollars per chapter or article, but the average price is not more than one or two dollars, and occasionally runs as low as fifty cents. Even at the lowest price, the syndicate company may realize quite an amount, because, after the article is set in type, the expense is limited to the taking of proofs and postage, to which, of course, must be added the overhead cost of running the business. If it is set in plates, an extra charge is made.
Practically all of the matter appearing in- the average newspaper, other than news and editorials, including the great majority of the special articles, except those of local character, come from the syndicate company.
The establishment of the syndicate is both advantageous and disastrous to the writer: advantageous, because he is likely to receive a larger sum for his work than would be given him by any one newspaper; and disastrous, because it decreases the demand for literary productions.
It is obvious that no one newspaper, even if very successful, will pay an author a hundred dollars for an article or story when it can purchase as acceptable matter for a few dollars.
The public, however, is benefited, because by this arrangement it is able to obtain in the newspaper a higher grade of composition than would be likely to occur if the newspaper was obliged to pay the author's price.
Country newspapers seldom, if ever, pay the author directly other than for news. The great bulk of the matter in the country newspaper, outside of the local news and the editorials, comes in the form of stereotypes, which are furnished to the newspaper; or a portion of its con-tents is not only set, but is printed by an outside company. Some of this plate matter, other than news, is copied, the author of it receiving no remuneration from the plate-making company, or being paid for his work at very low rates.
Most of the miscellany, including cooking recipes and general advice, which appears in the country newspapers, is plate matter, usually pre-pared or compiled by one of the editors, or by outsiders who work by the column.
Most of the humorous articles, either wholly in text or with illustrations, which are carried by the newspapers, come through the syndicates, who employ artists as well as writers. It is said that one humorous artist receives as much as twenty-five thousand dollars a year for the work of his brush, combined, of course, with a limited amount of wording.
The great newspaper, however, carries on its regular staff one or more cartoonists, who in most cases give their entire time to the newspaper en-gaging them. These artists receive from one to ten thousand dollars a year, three thousand dollars being the average salary. Their local sketches are used exclusively by the newspaper employing them, but many of their cartoons and other work are syndicated by the newspaper, that the expense may be divided.
The syndicate business, including the handling of stories, has grown to immense proportions, and is a trade by itself. It offers little opportunity to regular reporters, as most of the matter paid for is either written by regular staff editors or by special-article writers.
This subject is discussed further in the chapters entitled " ` Patent Insides' or Cooperative Newspapers" and " News-Distribut'mg Companies or Associations."
The Handbook of Journalism:
A Nose For News
Writers Of Special Articles
News-distributing Companies Or Associations
Patent-insides Or Cooperative Newspapers
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