Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New York Newspapers

Shortly after I wrote about the political leanings of The New York Times, past and present, that newspaper carried this obituary.

Whitelaw Reid, who had held executive positions with the New York Herald Tribune, a newspaper that ceased publication during the 1960s, died this past weekend.

New York City has far fewer newspapers than it did a few decades back. The Times has the broadsheet market pretty much to itself. However, The Wall Street Journal, since its recent acquisition by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, has made moves to position itself to compete more directly with the Times. News Corporation also owns one of New York's tabloid newspapers, the New York Post. The Post's main tabloid competitor is the Daily News.

In addition, a Long Island-based tabloid called Newsday has made on-and-off efforts to compete in the city market.

Those are more choices than one would get in the average American city. But, go back a century, and a New York reader had a few additional alternatives, including the Herald, the Journal, the American, the Tribune, the World, and The Sun.

The Herald and the Tribune merged in 1924. Whitelaw Reid's family had run the Tribune, and continued to control the Herald Tribune, until it was sold to John Hay "Jock" Whitney, in 1958.

The Herald Tribune had strong Republican leanings. Democratic President John Kennedy reportedly canceled all White House subscriptions to the newspaper for a period of time, in retaliation for negative coverage of his administration.

The Herald Tribune repeatedly had financial problems throughout its life. Nowadays, newspapers' financial problems largely stem from the rise of the World Wide Web, and have been exacerbated by the current recession. Earlier generations of communication technology also had an adverse effect on newspapers. Radio and television competed as sources of news, and outlets for advertising.

Then, unions staged a strike against the New York newspapers from December 8, 1962, to March 31, 1963. The Herald Tribune resumed publication but never fully recovered.

In a last-ditch effort to save a handful of struggling papers, the inelegantly-named New York World Journal Tribune was formed from a 1966 merger. When it went out of business the next year, several long-time newspaper lineages came to an abrupt end.

Yet another example of the fine things that unions accomplish for working people.

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