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When the Transcript's wearied press rolls off the last copy next Wednesday afternoon, a hundred year landmark will fall from the ranks of Boston's better traditions. With its finale goes a profoundly respected paper, one of the few remaining which refuse to bend to the winds of sensationalism. Harvard will lose a friend, an ardent promoter of educational interests rather than sprawling headlines.
Finances spelled the Transcript's doom. Founded in 1830 to be "read in better homes after dinner," it has prospered on advertisements alone, its aristocratic circulation never approaching that of other Boston papers. But when the depression swept New England in 1929, advertisers withdrew, leaving a disastrous gap in the revenue. Finally in 1939 finances demanded a complete revision of format and policy. The Transcript under new management blossomed forth with the "Newscope," front page pictures, headlines and unfamiliar makeups, without the usual Jay ad in the left-hand corner. But the five cent tariff and fatter editions failed to offset the continued small circulation.
Always preferring the conservative approach in editorials and news, the Transcript has remained for over a century aloof from political intrigue yet eager to back solid government. In the able words of its editor Richard Johnson, "the Transcript has been closely interwoven with the history and traditions of Boston and America. Its roots have spread deep into the fundamentals of our community life. It has encouraged the development of the arts, sciences, education, and religion and has always given its full support to honest, fair and efficient government."
While the Transcript is primarily respected for its impartiality, tradition has played a leading part in its appeal. Fond Bostonians like to recall its stand behind the old Whig party, its Civil War crusade against slavery, its one-family hereditary editorship through Victorian times, and its ultra-conservative woman editor. Nor will Beacon Hill ever live down the day a Brahmin butler announced to madame "three reporters, and a gentleman from the Transcript."
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