Kent Cooper · 1966
Kent Cooper was born in Columbus, Ind. on March 22, 1880, and from a $12-a-week after school reporter for the Columbus Evening Republican he rose to become a major force in the development of Associated Press.
The death of his father interrupted Cooper’s education at Indiana University and he returned to the Columbus Republican before moving to the Indianapolis Press in 1898. A short time later he joined the Scripps-McRae Press Association.
He conceived the idea of distributing news to rural newspaper editors by telephone circuit, and sold the idea to Scripps-McRae which had merged with United Press. He served as Indianapolis bureau manager for United Press until 1910 when he moved to New York and a job as traveling inspector of telephone circuits for Associated Press. He promised to resign if his system failed. In fact his telephone news service was an immediate success and his future with AP was assured.
In 1920 he became assistant general manager, in 1925 manager, and in 1943 executive director of AP.
In 1926 Cooper developed the idea of sending photographs by wire and in 1935 AP scored a Wirephoto scoop of the Will Rogers plane crash in Alaska.
Cooper broke the cartel of European news services in 1931 with the establishment of AP in Britain, and in 1934 in cooperation with United Press he broke the stranglehold of Great Britain’s Reuters expressed the view that, had the domination of Reuters been ended, and news freed from government control after World War I, World War II could have been avoided.
He served as president of the Press Association in 1940-51, Wide World Inc. 1941-51, and New York City Press Association 1942-51.
Kent Cooper was a man of many talents and could play 10 musical instruments. He wrote the operetta About That Girl which was produced in 1943, and Indiana University’s marching song Indiana Forever. He was the author of several books, including The Right to Know which dealt with the freedom of the press.
He received an honorary doctor of laws from Indiana University in 1941, and many other awards and honorary degrees. He established four journalism scholarships at Indiana University prior to his death on January 31, 1965.