Stopping the Presses: The Murder of Walter W. Liggett

By Ferre, John P. | Journalism History, Autumn 1999 | Go to article overview

Stopping the Presses: The Murder of Walter W. Liggett


Ferre, John P., Journalism History


Woodbury, Marda Liggett. Stopping the Presses: The Murder of Walter W. Liggett. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998. 288 pp. $18.95. Assassination has long been a way to silence meddlesome journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 472 journalists were murdered between 1989 and 1998. That decade was part of an ominous trend. As many journalists were killed in that decade as in all of the preceding seven combined.

Stopping the Presses is the story of one of the slain--e iconoclast Walter Liggett, who was gunned down on a windy December evening in 1935 in front of his wife and ten-year-old daughter as they brought groceries to their Minneapolis home. His daughter is the author. Marda Liggett Woodbury, a retired reference librarian, spent ten years in research which culminated in a 718-page master's thesis for the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, out of which came this book.

Walter Liggett became a journalist in the era of the muckrakers. Early in his career, he wrote pulp fiction, but he made a name for himself producing expos6s for American Mercury, Everybody's, New Leader, and other magazines. Attracted by the prospect of helping the Farmer-Labor Party, he left New York for his native Minnesota to publish a newspaper of his own. Two years later he lay in the alley behind his house, blood pouring from five bullet holes in his chest.

Liggett courted danger by using his Midwest American to reveal connections between the criminal underworld and Minnesota officialdom. …

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