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Lucius William Nieman, founder of The Milwaukee Journal, was born at Bear Valley in Sauk County, Wisconsin, on December 13, 1857. Two years later his father died and he was taken by his mother's parents, H. H. and Susan Cuppernall Delamatter, to live with them at Mukwonago. His grandmother's influence was felt throughout his life. "If there is any good in me" Mr. Nieman often said, "I owe it to Grandma Delamatter."
At 13, the boy set out to make his own way. Leaving school and home he went to Waukesha, where he found work on the Waukesha Freeman as a printer's apprentice. Almost immediately the fascination of a newspaper career claimed him.
He found time to attend Carroll College for awhile, became Waukesha correspondent of a Milwaukee daily, then a reporter in Milwaukee, a legislative correspondent-in Madison., city editor, and at age 20 was managing editor of the then largest newspaper in the state, The Milwaukee Sentinel. His nose for news, his grasp of the important events of the day and his unremitting energy had made him at this youthful age an important figure in the newspaper world of Wisconsin.
Mr. Nieman wanted a newspaper of his own and he wanted it in Milwaukee. In 1882, shortly before his 25th birthday (Nov. 16, 1882), he founded The Milwaukee Journal and become majority owner and editor-in-chief. He was, however, more than editor. He was reporter, office boy, and sometimes typesetter, working long hours and living on less than he was paying the men who worked for-him.
In establishing the Journal Mr. Nieman laid down its policy as "to furnish a channel for the expression of views not dictated by 'bossism' or corrupted by 'machine' politics will be the aim of The Daily Journal. In politics, The Journal will be the outspoken, independent organ of the people against all that is wrong or unworthy of support in public men and the legislation of the state and nation."
Nieman was a genius for scenting news and had a great appreciation of the people's interests. He wanted the newspaper to tell of acts of kindness, brutality to a child or an animal, and comical incidents.
Forty-two years later, Mr. Nieman summed up his philosophy of journalism in a speech made at the laying of the cornerstone of the present Journal building, April 12, 1924. He said:
"The Journal has grown up with the people of Milwaukee. It has lived close to them. It has never cared about classes, but about people. Children's interests have been close to its heart and baseball on the sandlots has meant more to it then the professional leagues.
One of its most important policies has been to get all the information it could about matters of importance to the public, giving them all sides of a question. It has never denied any man who had a case the opportunity to state it.
In its news stories it has kept up unceasingly the effort not to do injustice to anyone or bring into its stories what might hurt people innocent of all offense.
This we do not think of as something particularly virtuous but simply as trying to be square, a policy which makes a newspaper trusted and wins it a place in the life of the community."