The Daily News

In 1919, Joseph Medill Patterson, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, established the New York Daily News with a mission to “aggressively defend the interests of America and its people.” The paper would be both a city and national newspaper, and it was the first U.S. daily to publish in tabloid format. In the ensuing years, it flourished and by 1947 had reached its highest circulation of nearly 2.4 million copies daily. The success of the paper is attributed to its brassy pictorial style and a willingness to go above and beyond in pursuit of a sensational story (one famous example was the newspaper’s use of a hidden camera to photograph Ruth Snyder mid-electrocution).

In addition to its regular news coverage, the Daily News also features a number of celebrity gossip and entertainment articles, as well as classified ads, comics, sports, and an opinion section. In recent decades, the paper has built a reputation for being fiercely protective of the First Amendment and the rights of the people of New York City. It was the first metropolitan newspaper to develop an entirely electronic publishing system, and its writers have won Pulitzer Prizes for such pieces as E.R. Shipp’s investigations of poverty and social issues, and Mike McAlary’s expose of police brutality against Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

By the 1990s, however, the Daily News had suffered serious financial troubles. A series of mismanagement scandals were uncovered, and by 1991 the newspaper was nearly bankrupt. It was rescued by a group led by editor-cum-interim publisher James Willse, who negotiated contracts with the Daily News’s ten unions. By 1993, the newspaper was owned by Mort Zuckerman, whose media empire also included The Atlantic and USA Today, and it was still housed in its iconic art deco 42nd Street building designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood.

Despite its financial problems, the Daily News continued to publish and to report on a wide range of political and civic issues. It also covered news from abroad, and its reporters frequently traveled to war zones, providing a unique glimpse into the lives of ordinary citizens who were caught up in extraordinary circumstances. During this time, the Daily News editorial staff was particularly concerned with the growing threat of nuclear proliferation and worked tirelessly to keep its readers informed about developments in the Middle East and elsewhere. Ultimately, the newspaper’s fortunes turned for the worse in 1996 when it was sold to the Tribune Company for $36 million. Maxwell died a month later, having left hundreds of millions in debt. The newspaper was sold again in 2000, and in 2013 it moved to Brooklyn. In the 21st century, the Daily News has remained a major metropolitan newspaper, but its circulation has been steadily declining. In 2016, the newspaper reported that its readership had dropped below a million for the first time since 1916. The Daily News has adapted by embracing digital platforms and adapting to a changing world in which the newspaper industry faces ever-increasing competition from online sources.