Back in the day, it was called “Americanism.”
It topped the Ketchikan Alaska Chronicle’s platform, the principles under which the newspaper conducted business in 1921.
The nine principles appeared daily on what would be equivalent to today’s Opinion page in a most-often, 8-page print publication that served a community with a population of about 2,500.
Americanism, which indicates an allegiance to the traditions, institutions and ideals of the United States, means basically the same as patriotism, which is the most popular way in this day to describe one’s devotion to country.
Now, like then, the local newspaper remains true to the republic, determined to do its small part to maintain the democracy. Toward that end, it reports the good and the not-so-good — not unlike other small-town community newspapers across the nation.
Second to Americanism on the list of principles, the Chronicle in 1921 endorsed “a square deal for both capital and labor.” The term “a square deal” describes a sense of fair play for all. The press started using the term in the 1870s, and President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s employed the term for his domestic agenda, which included creation of the Tongass National Forest.
Third on the list demonstrated the support of industry and infrastructure for Ketchikan and Southeast: “Paper mills, pulp mills and development of power sites.”
It also recognized the importance of good government, listing fourth: “Business-like management of municipal and territorial affairs to assure Ketchikan and Alaska the best and most economic service.”
Cleaning up the town was a frequent topic on the pages of the newspaper 100 years ago, and, when discussed it usually had to do with eradicating bootlegging and prostitution. The fifth principle on the list demonstrated a desire for a family town: “A clean town, free from vice; a city of homes.”
Also at the time, Ketchikan depended on fishing and mining to economically uphold the community. The newspaper supported rules to support the industries that would guarantee their survival. Sixth on the paper’s platform: “Government encouragement and proper regulation of fisheries and mining, that the industries may flourish instead of decay.”
Building Ketchikan streets and territorial roads rated seventh and eighth on the list of principles — understandably a priority when dirt and wood had not yet given way to asphalt and cement.
Closing out the list, the Chronicle reiterated its support for a family friendly community with its sights on the future: “School buildings and facilities sufficient to guarantee youth its heritage, an education; and the nation, a better citizenship.”
As much as things have changed over the past 100 years in Ketchikan, the main principles have remained the same. Under the American flag, not only the local newspaper, but the community continues to support the ideals of infrastructure; multiple thriving industries, housing for all and family welcoming conveniences and opportunities.
This week — National Newspaper Week — the Daily News once again acknowledges the principles that have stood the test of time.