Abstract: "Just Enough of Everything": The St. Louis Argus—An African American Newspaper and Publishing Company in Its First Decade
Analyses of the black press in the mid-twentieth century often ignored the role of black newspapers as businesses and concentrated instead on the press's special mission to enlighten and inform the African American community. The attitude that black newspapers should not receive the same analysis as other business enterprises has obscured the fact that black newspapers struggled with the same economic issues, such as a shortage of capital and maintaining a customer base, that affected all businesses. In 1917, the editors of the St. Louis Argus promised its readers that it would be moderate, fair, and fearless in its journalistic efforts and "endeavor to publish the news; just enough of everything; not too much of anything." In this paper, I highlight the growth of the St. Louis Argus newspaper and publishing company during its formative years, 1915 to 1929, when the newspaper and company were able to stay in business despite vigorous competition and a changing political climate. One important ingredient in its success was its leadership, which included publisher and managing editor Joseph Everett Mitchell and his brother William, as well as the staff they brought together.