Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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On Sept. 14, 1905, Republican Party activist James F. McCoy and Kansas journalist J. R. Brady published the first issue of the Tulsa World, a daily newspaper. Entrepreneur George Bayne bought the paper in 1906 and later brought in his brother-in-law, Charles Dent, as a partner. Dent and editor Eugene Lorton bought out Bayne in 1913, when the World had approximately seventy-five thousand subscribers. Four years later Lorton became sole owner of the newspaper, and the World Publishing Company, and the Lorton family have retained ownership since that time.

A Missouri native who had operated papers in Kansas, Idaho, and Washington state, Lorton professed nonpartisanship on local matters while remaining staunchly Republican on national issues. He feuded with many of Oklahoma's early governors, most notably Charles N. Haskell. A long, bitter, but ultimately successful campaign to build a fifty-five-mile water conduit to Tulsa from a reservoir on Spavinaw Creek cemented the World's credibility. Completed in 1924, the Spavinaw project gave Tulsa its first reliable water source and eliminated a major obstacle to its growth.

A campaign against the Ku Klux Klan contributed to Lorton's split from the Republican Party in the 1920s. An unsuccessful GOP U.S. Senate candidate in 1924, Lorton endorsed Democrat Alfred E. Smith in the 1928 presidential election and was one of the first prominent Oklahomans to endorse Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. The World supported him again in 1936, but Lorton opposed a third term for Roosevelt and returned to the Republican fold in 1940. In 1941 the newspaper entered into a joint operating agreement with the Tulsa Tribune. Under this arrangement the World and Tribune remained editorially independent but combined production and support functions under the Newspaper Printing Corporation.

Eugene Lorton's grandson, Robert E. Lorton Jr., became president of World Publishing Company in 1968 and publisher in 1988. In 1992 the World bought the Tribune's interest in the Newspaper Printing Corporation. The Tribune then ceased publication. In 1997 Robert E. Lorton III became president of World Publishing Company with his father, Robert Lorton, retaining the title of publisher. At the turn of the twenty-first century the Tulsa World had a circulation of between 160,000 and 220,000 and remained one of the nation's largest independent newspapers.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Edward Carter, The Story of Oklahoma Newspapers, 1844 to 1984 (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1984). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 29 June 1941."Newspapers Tulsa World," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "Newspapers–Tulsa World," Vertical File, Tulsa City-County Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 31 August 1913 and 1 August 1992.

Randy Krehbiel

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