cover image All the News Is Fit to Print: Profile of a Country Editor

All the News Is Fit to Print: Profile of a Country Editor

Chad Stebbins. University of Missouri Press, $34.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-0-8262-1163-7

Small-paper editor and publisher Arthur Aull spent a lifetime chronicling the gossipy ins-and-outs of Lamar, Mo. (pop. 2300), in his Democrat. With shocker headlines like ""He Was Eaten by Hogs"" and ""To Go to Hell vs. Don't Give a Damn,"" the country editor ran a rag worthy of the New York Post in its heyday. But Aull, as this biography shows, strove to fill his pages with fresh, local copy daily and never let competitors or danger sway him from printing the truth--except when he refrained from printing the names of participants in a horrifying lynch mob, the saddest episode in his paper's history. When Stebbins, who teaches journalism at Missouri Southern State College, focuses on Aull and the life of the town, he paints a lush, detailed portrait of a man of whom even his competition wrote, ""He lived by the sword and died as far as is known stanchly [sic] holding to his convictions. He asked favors of no man and extended none... his species is extinct."" Stebbins falters, however, in the sometimes repetitive and superfluous attempts to summarize Aull's life or when he tries to enliven a local business battle between Aull and his rivals that colored the newspaperman's early ownership of the Democrat (he bought it in 1900 and ran it until his death in 1948). When the author follows the example of his subject--sticking to the basic facts, while allowing for reasonable ""embellishment""--he delivers a gripping story that every armchair reporter and news junkie can enjoy perusing. 15 b&w illustrations. (May)