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June 11, 2008 - Sunny Day
Chains and Consolidation. Eventually the large number of newspapers in this country succumbed to consolidation by larger chains of newspapers. In the first half of the twentieth century the number of newspapers began to decline and of those surviving, more and more were owned by large national newspaper chains rather than local citizens.
Reducing the number of newspapers in a city or area had advantages for those that did survive - where there were once 20 daily newspapers in New York city, by 1940 there were only eight and in that year 25 cities in the US with a population of more than 100,000 had only one daily newspaper.
E.W. Scripps created the first large newspaper chain in the U.S. and by 1929 they were publishing 25 newspapers under the new name of Scripps-Howard.
William Randolph Hearst began a similar chain and by 1904 he owned six newspapers and added more at the rate of one a year from 1917 to 1921. He then added seven more.
By the end of 1922 Hearst owned 20 daily newspapers, 11 Sunday editions, 2 wire services, 6 magazines and a newsreel company.
Many newspapers which have survived over the years are now owned by similar large national chains. Gannett owned 83 daily newspapers in 1993; Knight-Ridder owned 29; Newhouse owned 27; Scripps-Howard owned 20 and so on.
These type conglomerates wielded considerable political power and were considered unhealthy, but some would grow even larger as the years advanced.
Interestingly while there were large numbers of newspapers printed, many groups felt they were not covering their points of view or interests. Immigrant groups, still more comfortable with their own language, began to publish their own newspapers. One of the first foreign-language newspapers was one Ben Franklin helped to start in Germantown, near Philadelphia. Our country has seen newspapers printed in French, Spanish, Yiddish and the first native-American newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix was printed in Georgia in 1828. In 1914 the U.S. had 160 foreign-language dailies and by 1917 the number increased to 1,323! Amazing!
In ending this series we want to leave you with these thoughts about daily newspapers in particular - We are a brand new product each day. We begin with 24, 36, 48 or more sheets of newsprint and create for our readers an enjoyable and informative journey through the city, the area, the country and the world. We bring you detailed reporting on events that are of interest and importance to your life.
The power of the printed word is formidable and we take that responsibility seriously.
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