1978 vs 2008: Who were the biggest players?Back to News

Only seven of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies in 1978 are still on that list today. A number of energy and financial companies merged and moved up on the list. Other companies that remained in the same business segments and did not make significant acquisitions dropped off the list. Walmart Stores, which now tops the Fortune 500, wasn’t even on the list 30 years ago.

The same trends exist when looking at the 25 largest newspaper companies. In 1978, Knight Ridder was the largest newspaper group measured by circulation. It was largely absorbed in a purchase by McClatchy in 2006. Nine other companies on 1978’s top 25 list have been sold as well.

Gannett is the largest U.S. newspaper company today, moving up from fourth place 30 years ago. Gannett has more than doubled its daily circulation through the acquisition of larger dailies and the launch of USA Today. McClatchy is the fourth largest company today and didn’t even crack the top 25 in 1978.

Thirty years ago Knight Ridder’s daily circulation represented 6% of the total daily circulation in the country. Today Gannett’s daily circulation represents 13% of the total daily circulation.