In the last half of the nineteenth century, explosive urban growth and an influx of immigrants resulted in many large cities around the nation becoming a breeding ground for unethical and dishonest leadership. These “bosses” and their cronies were more interested in building personal fortunes than in pursuing interests beneficial to their communities. Memphis had Boss Crump, Louisiana had Boss Huey Long, New York had Boss Tweed, Cincinnati had Boss Cox, and the list went on and on.
By 1906, when Odd arrived at The Cincinnati Post, it had been a voice against political corruption in Cincinnati for many years. However, owner Edward Willis Scripps found that when the newspaper aggressively exposed Cincinnati corruption, Boss Cox would force businesses to withdraw advertising. In Scripps’s words, the Post had been “compelled to a course of persistent compromise” and had “kept its hands off of enough to still enjoy a large amount of advertising.” Those living in cities like Cincinnati, especially the poor and other vulnerable citizens, suffered as issues like childhood education, health and safety, and transportation went unaddressed.
As the public demand for muckraking journalism grew, Scripps saw an opportunity to solve the Boss Cox problem once and for all. He encouraged the young editors and reporters at the Post to go after the city’s biggest problem and get rid of Cox once and for all.
During those years, Odd worked side by side with some of the most talented writers, journalists, and artists ever brought together to work on one newspaper at one time. He experienced first-hand the power of a group of young people coming together with a common cause, using journalism as a tool to right some very egregious wrongs.
Odd loved the newspaper business before he arrived in Cincinnati, but during his years working at the Post, he developed a deep appreciation and admiration for newspaper men and women that would last for the rest of his life.
Out of the free and easy camaraderie of the old Post days grew some of the finest contacts I have ever known. There isn’t—to be mawkish for the moment—an old Post man who wouldn’t, in the Broadway vernacular, ‘go to the route for a pal.’
O. O. McIntyre
The men and women of The Cincinnati Post continued the fight against the Cox machine. They reported the news, wrote editorials, and drew cartoons. Occasionally, reform candidates won an election here and there, but for the most part, Cox retained much of his power. It would take many years, and hundreds of hours of investigative reporting by many talented journalists, before Cox finally fell from his throne, and even longer for the machine he had built to grind to a halt.
Odd wasn’t there to see it happen. He left in 1911 and headed to New York for a job at Hampton’s Magazine.
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