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The Old Bulletin

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In April, 1847, Alexander Cummings founded Cummings' Telegraphic Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia to take advantage of new technology that brought news over telegraph wires, giving readers same day reports about from the battlefields of the Mexican War. 

     Under the five decade editorship of Gibson Peacock, The Bulletin grew in reputation, but remained modest in size.

Upon Peacock's death in 1895, ownership passed to William L. McLean. Under his leadership, the newspaper's circulation increased from 6,000 to 150,000 in just 15 years, and it remained the city's largest newspaper for some 70 years, reaching a peak of near 800,000 in the 1960s.

A third generation William McLean was at the helm in 1980 when the paper was sold to Charter Co., which closed it in January, 1982.

This page will tell more about Bulletin history as this web site develops.

bullbldg.jpg.jpg

     The new Bulletin Building,    1908                       
     Juniper & Filbert Streets                             

        The Story of the "Nearly Everybody" Slogan
 
    In April, 1947, Robert McLean, one of William L. McLean’s two sons, took part in a WCAU and CBS radio broadcast in observance of The Bulletin’s 100th anniversary, with PennsylvaniaSen. Francis J. Myers and Gov. James H. Duff participating.
   An article in The Bulletin describing the program included the following:
 
   The story of The Bulletin's startlingly conservative slogan was told in the form of a dramatic sketch, introduced by Robert McLean, president of The Bulletin Company. Senator Myers had remarked that he had often wondered how the slogan originated.
   “That’s quite a story, Senator,” said McLean. “It happened back at the turn of the century about five years after my dad, the late William L. McLean, purchased the paper. He was busy at his desk one afternoon --”
   The story from that point was dramatized, showing the elder McLean studying a layout of the front page reporting the passage by Congress of the budget when he was interrupted by his friend named Mr. Ireland.
    Ireland said he had a “great” slogan for the Bulletin. He had been impressed by The Bulletin’s rise in circulation from 7,000 to 133,000 in three years . . . and he thought the slogan should be “In Philadelphia, Everybody reads The Bulletin.”
     The elder McLean repeated the slogan thoughtfully.
   “Mmmm, not bad,” he said.
   “Hits the nail right on the head, doesn’t it?” said Ireland.
   “Not quite,” said the elder McLean thoughtfully. “You see, it isn’t entirely true. And here at The Bulletin, we’d rather not be charged with too much overstatement.”
    Ireland protested, “Gosh, chief, you’re splitting hairs. It’s nearly true.”
  “That’s it,” said the elder McLean. “insert that word ‘nearly’ and you have it. ‘In Philadelphia Nearly Everybody Reads The Bulletin.’”
   Robert McLean remarked that his father’s eyes always twinkled as he told the story.
 
   Mr. Ireland was probably Howard I. Ireland (1862-1922), a former newspaper reporter and advertising director of Strawbridge & Clothier, who started his own advertising agency in 1890. The incident would have taken place about 1905.

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                                     William L. McLean,  1852 - 1931

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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