The Gilded Age Press, 1865-1900

By Ted Curtis Smythe | Go to book overview

9

The Yellow Press, 1896-1900

When Pulitzer invaded New York in 1883 he was virtually presented with the city by his most formidable competitors. Charles A. Dana rejected Grover Cleveland and supported General Benjamin Butler in the presidential campaign. This decision allowed Pulitzer to attract Democrats to the World. James Gordon Bennett's two-year war with news dealers over the wholesale price of the Herald left many readers without the most comprehensive newspaper in the city. His decision to raise advertising rates at the same time was inexplicable. The World filled the reading void, at two cents a copy, and enticed advertisers by keeping its rates below those of the Herald.

Pulitzer, with these examples deeply embedded in his consciousness, ignored them upon Hearst's arrival, and he repeated the errors of both the Herald and the Sun as 1896 unfolded. He later confessed to having made the errors and reflected, “I wonder why, in view of my experience?” 1

At the time of Hearst's purchase of the Journal, the newspaper was considered inconsequential in journalistic circles. Even Hearst was largely unknown, as the Tribune proved inan editorial in which it claimed the radical Democrat from California might be Republican and therefore would change the politics of the newspaper. 2 Upon announcing his ownership, Hearst telegraphed to Sam Chamberlain to come to New York and take charge of the newspaper. Chamberlain had worked in New York before going to San Francisco. It was a homecoming for him. Others on the Examiner were invited to New York: Homer Davenport, cartoonist; Arthur McEwen, mercurial writer; Winifred Black, whose pen name was “Annie Laurie”; and F. L. H. “Cosey” Noble, who became the first city editor of the newspaper under the Hearst regime. Hearst, a hands-on executive editor when he was on the scene, immediately copied the World in style and dropped the Journal's price to one-cent, as it had been most of the time under Albert Pulitzer. Only now the newspaper would be a sixteen-page general-circulation, sensational, politically independent newspaper vigorously supporting the Democratic party, purposely designed to reach a large working class au-

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