E. W. Scripps argued in his autobiography, Damned Old Crank: "I am one of the few newspapermen who happen to know that this country is populated by ninety-five per cent of plain people, and that the patronage of even plain and poor people is worth more to a newspaper owner than the patronage of the wealthy five per cent." His newspapers were low-priced and tended to support progressive causes and the trade union movement. He once wrote: "I have only one principle, and that is represented by an effort to make it harder for the rich to grow richer and easier for the poor to keep from growing poorer."
Throughout his career Scripps found that advertisers continually put him under pressure to drop his radical causes. He later recalled: "A newspaper fairly and honestly conducted in the interests of the great masses of the public must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class (the advertisers) which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper's income. It must occasionally so antagonize this class as to cause it not only to cease patronage, to a greater or lesser extent, but to make actually offensive warfare against the newspaper."
In 1911 he decided to publish a newspaper that was completely free of advertising. The tabloid-sized newspaper was called The Day Book, and at a penny a copy, it aimed for a working-class market, crusading for higher wages, more unions, safer factories, lower streetcar fares, and women’s right to vote. It also tackled the important stories ignored by most other dailies. According to Duane C. S. Stoltzfus, the author of Freedom from Advertising (2007): "The Day Book served as an important ally of workers, a keen watchdog on advertisers, and it redefined news by providing an example of a paper that treated its readers first as citizens with rights rather than simply as consumers."
Carl Sandburg was one of the journalists employed on the newspaper. Dorothy Day was one of those who read the newspaper and later admitted that it informed her about people like Eugene Debs and organisations such as the Industrial Workers of the World: " Through the paper I learned of Eugene Debs, a great and noble labor leader of inspired utterance. There were also accounts of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World who had been organizing in their one great union so that there were a quarter of a million members throughout the wheatfields, mines, and woods of the Northwest, as well as in the textile factories in the East." Though the Day Book’s financial losses steadily declined over the years, it never became profitable, and publication ended in 1917.
My brother Donald began his newspaper career on a paper called The Day Book. (The name had nothing to do with my own newspaper family but as I recall it was an experiment of Scripps-Howard.) It was the size of the dime novels we used to read, but it was lurid in another way. It told of the struggles in the labor movement and especially in Chicago. There were no advertisements, so working conditions in department stores, in factories and workshops were exposed with no fear of losing revenue. Carl Sandburg was one of the writers and this poet of the people sat on the copy desk and inspired my brother to look on the people as he did, with love and hope of great accomplishment. Through the paper I learned of Eugene Debs, a great and noble labor leader of inspired utterance. There were also accounts of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World who had been organizing in their one great union so that there were a quarter of a million members throughout the wheatfields, mines, and woods of the Northwest, as well as in the textile factories in the East.