The Death of the Daily News

Daily News

The New York Daily News is an American tabloid newspaper that was once the most-read daily in the United States. Founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson, it was the first successful tabloid newspaper in the United States and achieved a peak circulation of over two million copies per day. The paper became famous for its sensational crime and scandal stories, lurid photographs, and other entertainment features. The newspaper also served as a platform for controversial social and political commentary. Many of its writers, editors and contributors have gone on to prominent careers in journalism or public life, including William F. Buckley, John Hersey, Lan Samantha Chang, James Cannon, Dick Young, and Strobe Talbott.

In the lobby of The News’ former building on East 42nd Street is a bench where, the story goes, countless staffers would sit to take their lunch break. The bench is engraved with the names of a number of them, including Jimmy Cannon, who wrote the legendary boxing article “Smoking” in 1995.

Today, The News is still owned by Tribune Publishing, which bought the Daily in 1993. But the tabloid has been in decline for decades, and it was merged with its rival, The New York Post, in 2017. It won (with ProPublica) a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for uncovering police department abuses of the eviction process, but that did not save it from losing more than half its revenue over the next year or so and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018.

The News regained some momentum after being saved by publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman, but the company’s debt burden proved too heavy, and Tribune lost control of the newspaper in April 2019. It is now owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Under its current owner, The Daily News has continued to cut staff and refocus on digital platforms, while reducing print editions and cutting its circulation.

In the wake of the sale, many observers are concerned about what will happen to local news in America. The story of how a newspaper in a small Pennsylvania city died is emblematic of what is happening nationally, and Andrew Conte tells it with deep reporting and empathy in Death of the Daily News.

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