A year prior to his death in 1962, Paul C. Edwards wrote of the philosophy of journalism and editorial leadership he followed for 56 years as editor of E.W. Scripps (later Scripps-Howard) newspapers:
"... the E.W. Scripps principles of editorial supremacy should control, that is, that the editor should be responsible for the entire contents of the paper, both news and advertising ... the paper should be independent politically and commercially, its special mission should be to champion the cause of the masses, the wage earners, farmers, and traders of small means. It was to print the truth and defend the rights of the public without regard to the effect of such policy upon advertisers, and to publish the news faithfully, fearlessly, and fairly.
Edwards learned to be a strong and committed editor from the two dominant editorial personalities of the Scripps organization: Robert F. ("Uncle Bob") Paine, and the great E.W. Scripps himself, who personally indoctrinated Edwards with his views of what constitutes an outstanding editor.
Born in 1882 in Knightstown, Ind., Edwards entered Stanford University early in the 20th Century. His first work as a journalist was with the student newspaper, and later as correspondent for several local papers. Edwards left the university after its disruption by earthquake in 1906 and joined the San Francisco News as a reporter and assistant to the editor. He stayed only a few months, however, before joining the San Francisco bureau of the UnitedPress, which had just been established by Scripps.
It was at UP that Edwards came under the tutelage and sharp eyes of Paine. One of Paine's many executive assignments was to watch for young men with the potential to be founding editors of new Scripps papers — a means of expansion Scripps employed successfully for 25 years.
By the summer of 1908, Paine had singled out Edwards as one of "his boys" and sent him off to be assistant to A.E. Anderson, then editor of the two-year-old Dallas Dispatch.Less than 10 months after starting work in Dallas, Edwards was given full responsibility for the paper while Anderson went on vacation for five weeks.
Early in 1911, Edwards was assigned to become the founding editor of the Houston Press, but to prepare him, he and his wife were called for a two-day stay on Scripps' ranch at Miramar, Calif.
On the first day of the visit, Edwards listened for three hours while Scripps talked in detail of his career and principles of editing. On the second day, Scripps summoned Edwards back to his study to dictate in his presence a long letter, which has been preserved as "Letter to A Young Editor"— one of the best known of Scripps' "Disquisitions."
Edwards recalled later in life that he applied these teachings with a "zeal almost holy," as evidenced with the establishment of a circulation record in his first year at Houston — a record that had not been equaled since the beginning of the Cleveland Press in 1878.
Under Edwards' leadership, the Press amazingly began to show a profit after just three years and a $48,000 investment.
He left Houston in 1916 to become editor of the Dallas Dispatch then moved again in 1919 to become Editor in chief of Texas Scripps newspapers and the Memphis Press.
In 1922, Edwards returned to California after a 13-year absence, first as editor in chief of Scripps papers in the state, and later as editor of the San Diego Sun in 1926.
He returned to his native San Francisco in 1933 as associate editor and chief editorial writer for the San Francisco News. It was there he spent the balance of his career — guiding the paper's editorial policies through the trying days of the Depression, World War II and postwar problems.
In addition, Edwards also stimulated a long period of outstanding investigative reporting by News staff members into city and state problems.
At Stanford memorial services following his death in 1962, University President J.E. Wallace Sterling characterized Edwards as having "... an unusually strong sense of commitment. To his profession as a newspaperman — a profession in which he achieved eminence — he brought not only skill as a writer and the keen observation of a reporter, but also the clear conviction of an editor. He regarded journalism as an opportunity and an obligation for public service."
*Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.*