New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past

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The Press

NEW JERSEY editors put "first things first" and hoe their own row. Their determination to emphasize local news and features against the national and international content of New York and Philadelphia dailies has produced in an essentially urban State a prevailingly suburban type of journalism. Almost without exception, the New Jersey press daily declares its independence from its metropolitan rivals.

The majority follow the lead of the Newark Evening News in reporting not only the minutiae of their own cities but also social, political, and cultural activities of hamlets within a 50-mile radius. An example of the strong New Jersey sense of local importance was a News headline on November 2, 1937: "NEW YORK ALSO VOTES TODAY". The necessity for this provincialism, however, becomes apparent when circulation figures of New Jersey and out-of-State papers are compared.

Neighboring newspapers have made greatest inroads in the heavily populated suburban areas. One New York paper alone, a tabloid, has a weekday circulation of 199,000 and a Sunday circulation of more than 400,000 in New Jersey. Likewise, one Philadelphia daily sends to New Jersey 65,000 copies, an eighth of its total circulation.

In comparison, the 36 English-language dailies in the State, of which only a very few print Sunday editions, have a circulation of approximately 800,000 on weekdays and 218,700 on Sundays (including that of the Sunday weeklies). Improved delivery facilities are increasing the circulation of metropolitan papers in the State without causing a corresponding decline in that of New Jersey's own papers. Readers of out-of-State journals usually buy a local paper also.

This same influence of neighboring cities caused early New Jersey journalism to limp decades behind that of other Colonies. At the outbreak of the Revolution, the population of the Colony still looked to the nine Pennsylvania papers -- three of which were printed in German -- and to their four contemporaries in New York for information on the Old World and the New. James Parker's effort to establish a local publication,

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