The New York Daily News

In the first quarter of the 20th century, daily newspapers were one of the pillars of American society. These papers offered in-depth coverage of the day’s events and often included opinion pieces from a variety of viewpoints. Today, many of these publications have consolidated and some are struggling. However, some have continued to thrive and remain the premier source of information for many citizens. The New York Daily News is one of the oldest and most prestigious of these papers. It has been called “The Eyes, The Ears, the Honest Voice of New York City” and is known for its intense city news coverage, celebrity gossip, classified ads, comics and a sports section.

The Daily News was founded by Joseph Medill Patterson in 1919 in New York City as the Illustrated Daily News. The newspaper was one of the first tabloids in the country and became an immediate success. By 1925, circulation had increased to 1.5 million and the News was able to hire a staff of writers, illustrators and photographers to supplement its small advertising budget.

By the end of the 1920s, the Daily News had established itself as one of the most important newspapers in the world. It had even won a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary for E.R. Shipp’s piece on the welfare system and a second Pulitzer for Mike McAlary’s coverage of police brutality against Abner Louima. The News was also noted for its photographs and for its extensive travel and entertainment coverage.

At its peak in 1947, the newspaper had a circulation of 2.4 million daily and 4.7 million on Sundays. This was largely due to the fact that it had become an early adopter of the Associated Press wirephoto service, and employed a large number of photographers. It was also known for its brassy pictorial style that set it apart from other city newspapers.

In 1948, the Daily News established what became WPIX (Channel 11 in New York) with call letters based on its nickname of “New York’s Picture Newspaper.” The News also purchased what eventually became WFAN-FM, which is now part of CBS Radio. In addition, the newspaper owned an interest in the television station WNEP-TV and shared offices with city hall and One Police Plaza.

By the 1970s, however, the Daily News had begun to deteriorate. In 1975, it rolled out what would be its most famous headline: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” The editorial was a response to President Gerald Ford’s speech the previous day vetoing a bankruptcy bailout for the City of New York.

In the late 1990s, under the editorship of Pete Hamill and later Debby Krenek, the paper developed a reputation for defending the First Amendment rights of its readers. It also began to emphasize social issues, reversing its long-standing conservative bias. In 2021, an anonymous Yale College alumnus donated a substantial gift to help fund the ongoing operation of the Daily News Historical Archive. In its current form, the Archive provides free online access to more than a century of the Daily News and is an integral part of the University’s digital collections. Ad Fontes Media rates the Daily News as Skewed Left in terms of bias and Reliable, Analysis/Fact Reporting in terms of reliability.

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