The tradition of newspapers vying for readers based on their divergent perspectives dates back to Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, who each found newspaper forums to use as their sounding boards.
Until the 1830s, newspapers were published essentially for the elite, but as printing techniques improved, the number of papers grew. In 1833, Benjamin Day founded the Sun in New York; the New York Morning Herald followed in 1835, founded by James Gordon Bennett. These two competing dailies led to the creation of a news gathering force known later as the Associated Press (AP).
The first modern game of baseball was played in 1846. Incredibly, it wasn't until April 15, 1947, that Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play baseball in the major leagues, breaking the “color line” — a practice of racial segregation dating to the nineteenth century.
In the early 1900s, Edward Wyllis Scripps formed the United Press Association, which in 1958, after a merger with International News Services, became United Press International (UPI).
The Printed Page Expands Its Coverage
By 1850, monthly magazines such as Harper's Monthly, the Atlantic, and the Ladies' Home Journal informed and entertained Americans. You could buy the Saturday Evening Post for a nickel by the end of the century. Around this time, a young California upstart made himself a success with the San Francisco Examiner, which he took over from his father. With this newspaper, William Randolph Hearst intended to take on another successful publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, whose newspaper empire (starting with the New York World) reached beyond New York City. Pulitzer had pioneered the newspaper business with the advent of sports pages, women's fashion section, and more. Hearst and Pulitzer tried to outdo each other from the comics to coverage of scandals, bringing forth the term “yellow journalism” to describe the sensational techniques often used to attract readers. Joseph Pulitzer donated $1 million to Columbia University for a school of journalism, founded in 1912, and funded Pulitzer Prizes.
Periodicals Establish Niches
Adolph Ochs kept steering his newspaper, the New York Times, founded in 1851, to serious news coverage with the slogan “All the news that's fit to print.” Tabloids began around 1919 as more easy-to-read newspapers profusely filled with illustrations and graphics. The New York Daily News was one of the first, followed by Hearst's Daily Mirror.
On May 5, 1906, a powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked San Francisco, causing three days of raging fires that destroyed many downtown and residential areas. Fortunately, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt and hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.
By 1922, Reader's Digest truly capitalized on the reading and news phenomenon. Published by DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, this small magazine featured informative but condensed articles that had previously appeared elsewhere. It remains successful with that tradition into the twenty-first century. The Digest, as some call it, inspired other magazine upstarts such as Time and Newsweek, and in 1925, the New Yorker, with its fine fiction, articles, and cartoons. Life hit newsstands in 1936 and proved that pictures could tell a story as well as words.