Jack Foster Papers
Jack Foster was a journalist and editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado from 1940-1970. He changed the format of the newspaper to a magazine-style format in an effort to sustain it in the early 1940s. He also introduced an advice column, the Molly Mayfield column, written by his wife Frances. His papers include correspondence with Dwight D. Eishenhower, Roy W. and Jack Howard of Scripps-Howard News Service, and Richard Nixon, as well as typewritten copies of speeches presented to civic, educational and business organizations.
- Foster, Jack, 1906-1978 (Person)
Biographical / Historical
Jack Foster was born in 1906 in St. Joseph, Missouri, where his father was a city editor at the Gazette. He performed odd jobs for the newspaper as a boy, and began his career with Scripps-Howard at the age of 15, writing sports articles for the Cleveland Press. When Scripps-Howard bought the Rocky Mountain News in 1926, Foster was transferred to Denver, where he worked for the News as a reporter, feature writer and book reviewer. Three years later he was transferred to the New York Telegram, where he worked as the radio editor. In 1931 he was promoted to assistant city editor. He contracted tuberculosis in 1933, and was unable to resume his career until 1937, when he became a feature writer for the New York World-Telegram. He was later promoted to assistant executive editor.
While at the New York World-Telegram he met and married Frances Magnum, who was the paper's fashion editor. In 1940 the couple moved to Denver, where Foster assumed the reins of the Rocky Mountain News as editor and chief executive officer. At that time the News faced stiff competition from its rival Denver newspaper, the Denver Post, and was in danger of losing the fight. In 1942 Foster made a bold move to save the dying paper. After convincing the president of Scripps-Howard, Roy W. Howard, of the soundness of the plan, Foster changed the format of the paper from the traditional broadside to a tabloid, magazine-style format. The new format debuted on April 13, 1942, and is largely credited with saving the dying paper. At the same time, Foster introduced another novel idea, the advice column. The Molly Mayfield column was the first advice column of its kind, pre-dating Ann Landers and Dear Abby. Foster's wife Frances penned the column under the pseudonym. Instantly popular with the airmen at Lowry Field, it soon gained a city-wide readership, followed by everyone from housewives to university professors.
Foster had a long and illustrious career at the News. He was well-regarded in the newspaper business, influential in the Denver area and well-known in political circles. He served on the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Pulitzer Prize selection panel, and kept up a lively correspondence with Dwight D. Eisenhower for a number of years. Under his guidance the News moved from a paper on the brink of closing to one with the largest circulation of any Scripps-Howard newspaper.
Foster retired from the Rocky Mountain News at the end of 1970. He died in 1978 at the age of 71, and was survived by his wife Frances, who passed away in 1998.
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