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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BAKER, ELBERT H. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BAKER, ELBERT H. (25 July 1854-27 Sept. 1933), was the "fourth founder" of the PLAIN DEALER. Born in Norwalk, Ohio to Henry and Clara Maria (Hall) Baker, his family came to Cleveland in 1865, moving to Kansas City in 1870. Baker returned to Cleveland in 1873, working for the CLEVELAND HERALD in 1877; moving to the CLEVELAND LEADER in 1882. In 1897, Baker followed CHAS. E. KENNEDY† to St. Louis to work for Joseph Pulitzer's Post-Dispatch, returning the following year to take over the Plain Dealer under a lease signed with owner LIBERTY E. HOLDEN†. Kennedy assumed editorial control, while Baker became business manager. Baker's reforms included compiling reliable circulation figures and adopting uniform advertising rates. He and Kennedy also eliminated partisan bias from news stories and expanded national and foreign news coverage.

When Kennedy withdrew in 1907, Baker also assumed editorial direction of the Plain Dealer as general manager. Baker personified the Plain Dealer and became an influential civic leader. He arranged the compromise that ended Cleveland's 10-year traction war under Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON†, and later twice orchestrated settlements between the city and the EAST OHIO GAS CO. of which he became chairman of the board in 1930. He was a director of the Associated Press and the American Newspaper Publishers' Assoc., and president of this group from 1912-14. Married in 1876 to Ida Smith, Baker had 2 daughters, Louise and Mary, and 3 sons, Frank, Elbert, and Alton. In partnership with 2 of his sons, he became co-publisher of 3 newspapers on the West Coast. Baker died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Kennedy, Charles E. Fifty Years of Cleveland (1925).

Shaw, Archer H. The Plain Dealer (1942).

Last Modified: 11 Jul 1997 02:26:51 PM

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