100 Years of Newspaper Ownership – Part 1Back to News

1905 Colonel Ira Clifton Copley, at the age of 41, bought his first newspaper, the Aurora (IL) Beacon, partly to help his political career. He began serving his twelve years in Congress that same year.

""1906 Frank E. Gannett earned his way through Cornell University by operating a news-correspondence syndicate, and was graduated with honors and $1,000 in the bank. His first paper was the Elmira Star-Gazette, of which he became part-owner in 1906 after managerial experience in Ithaca and Pittsburgh. Frank Gannett and a few associates plunged into debt to acquire the Elmira newspaper, and the Gannett Company was started. The company went public in 1967 and today is the world’s largest newspaper company.

1907 United Press Association was formed when E.W. Scripps merged three regional press groups.

1907 Ottawa (KS) Herald was the first daily acquired by Ralph Harris. The group has now grown to eight dailies, seven of which are in Kansas.

1908 The Christian Science Monitor was established by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church, as a daily selling at two cents. The Monitor was originally intended as a practical protest against yellow journalism.

1908 John Stewart Bryan, who had inherited the Richmond Times-Dispatch from his father, purchased its evening rival, the News Leader. Five years later he sold the morning paper and concentrated on the News Leader, which proceeded to justify its title. The company went public in 1966.

""1911 E. W. Scripps launched the Chicago Day Book — the first ad-less newspaper. His novel experiment ended five years later.

1911 Medill grandsons Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Medill Patterson took over Chicago Daily Tribune.

1912 Charles P. Manship became sole owner of Baton Rouge State-Times, and started the Morning Advocate in 1925.

1913 Josephus Daniels was appointed Secretary of the Navy.

1914 The number of newspapers reached the highest point in our journalistic history – 2,250 dailies.

1914 The number of weekly newspapers at the beginning of this period in 1914 was about 14,000; by 1940 it had declined to about 11,500, chiefly through consolidations.

1914 “Two Million Dollar Merger:" The Booth Brothers turned over their Individual Properties to Operating Company.

1915 Oscar Stauffer bought his first newspaper, the Peabody (KS) Herald for $2,250.

1918 On August 6 Robert Worth Bingham bought 2/3 interest in the Louisville (KY) Times and Courier-Journal for $1 million. He purchased the remaining interest over the next two years. It sold in 1986 to Gannett for $319 million.

1918 Harold B. Johnson acquired the Watertown Daily Times.

1919 One Day Captain Joseph Medill Patterson and Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick met “somewhere in France” and the former happened to remark that he had visited not long before with Lord Northcliffe, and had heard him say that his Daily Mirror was selling 1,000,000 copies a day. The great English publisher, indeed, had urged that Patterson try out the tabloid idea in the United States. Then and there the two cousins agreed that as soon as the war was over they would start such a paper in New York. So it was that the Illustrated Daily News appeared in New York on June 26, 1919, a morning paper of sixteen four-column pages, published by a subsidiary of the Tribune Company. In 1924, with 750,000, the Illustrated Daily News of New York attained the largest circulation of any daily paper in America.

1920 James M. Cox learned the printing trade as a boy in Dayton, Ohio. He was a reporter for some years on the Cincinnati Enquirer, and in 1908 came back to Dayton and bought the News. Five years later he purchased the Springfield, Ohio, News. Later he went to Congress, was Governor of Ohio for three terms, and Democratic nominee for President in 1920, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his running mate.

1920 The Detroit News established the first newspaper-owned broadcasting station when its WWJ went on the air August 20, 1920. In 1930 there were slightly under ninety stations owned by or affiliated with newspapers; in 1940 the number had grown to nearly 250, representing about a third of all radio stations.

1920 Harding had been a newspaper man, and still owned the Marion, Ohio, Star when elected President. He revived the press conferences, and twice a week he talked freely to his fellow-journalists.

""1920 S.I. Newhouse bought his first newspaper, the Fitchburg (MA) Daily News, for $15,000.

1921 Robert P. Scripps, working under his father’s rule that a third of the profits should go to enlargement of the chain, began founding and buying new papers, adding eighteen newspapers in the twenties, and three more in the thirties.

1922 On November 3, 1922, R.W. Howard assumed joint editorial direction of papers with Robert P. Scripps, and the company names changed from Scripps McRae to Scripps Howard.

1922 Moses L. Annenberg bought the Daily Racing Form and was soon head-over-heels in the business of furnishing tipster sheets and odds on pay-off prices to gambling rooms. His income from such business was said to run to over $2,000,000 a year.

1922 S. I. Newhouse bought 51% of stock of Staten Island (NJ) Advance.

1922 Booth Publishing Company acquired the Kalamazoo Gazette, bringing the group’s newspapers to eight.

1923 Only a month after Harding told the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention in 1923 that he would hold onto the Star “because I would rather be a newspaper publisher than anything else in the world,” he had sold the Marion Journal to an Ohio chain. He had purchased the Star at a sheriff’s sale in 1887, and sold it for $550,000.

1923 502 cities had two or more competing newspapers — 100 cities had three or more competing dailies.

1923 More than 39% of U.S. cities had more than one independently owned daily newspaper.

1925 The Chicago Tribune in 1924-35 erected a magnificent new building for itself at a cost of $8,000,000.

1925 Following the death of Victor F. Lawson, the Chicago Daily News was sold to a group headed by Walter A. Strong, the paper’s business manager, for $13,500,000 — then a record price for a newspaper sale.

1926-28 Denver newspaper owners Bonfils and Howard engaged for two years in one of the greatest throat-cutting competitive battles in the history of American journalism. Outstanding among the incidents of this contest was the gasoline-premium war, in which the rival papers offered as high as five gallons of gasoline free with every twenty-cent want-ad inserted in their Sunday issues. All Denver was riding on free gasoline; the Sunday papers went to over 100 pages, stuffed with classified advertising, and the Post and News lost money like drunken sailors. In 1928 a truce was signed, the News discontinued its evening edition and the Post its morning issue (founded for this fight), and comparative peace settled over Colorado. Fierce competition between these two dailies bubbled up from time to time until the dailies entered into a JOA in 2001.

1927 The Ridder family bought the St. Paul, MN Dispatch and Pioneer Press.

1928 Colonel Copley purchased the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune from the J.D and A.B Spreckels Investment Company, two years after the death of J.D. Spreckels. Copley purchased a total of 24 newspapers in the first half of 1928, investing $7,500,000 – probably no other publisher has completed so many newspaper transactions in such a short time.

1929 A pioneer effort to serve its circulation area by airplane was that of the McCook, Nebraska, Daily Gazette in 1929.

1929 By the late 1920s there were about 60 groups owning some 300 daily newspapers which accounted for a third of the total daily newspaper circulation.

1929 President Calvin Coolidge declined an offer to become Editor-in-Chief of the Denver Post.

1930 In the teletypesetter, the receiver is not a typewriter but a linotype; and the telegraphic sending machine in a central office may operate the keyboards of linotypes in as many offices as may be connected, whatever the distances. The first experimental use of the device was on a linotype of the Evanston, Illinois, News-Index in 1929. Early 1930 it was put into practical operation in the Macy newspaper chain in Westchester County, New York.