Magazine article American Journalism Review

The Great Newspaper Panic of '95

Magazine article American Journalism Review

The Great Newspaper Panic of '95

Article excerpt

When the Knight brothers were building the company that later joined the Ridder newspapers to become Knight-Ridder, Jack Knight often credited brother Jim with the strategy that won Miami. It was a victory that gave Knight total dominance of an emerging big city in a fastgrowing state, and it put multimillions of dollars into the Knight profit margins.

The strategy, said John S. Knight, was fairly simple. The time was World War II. Newsprint was rationed. The Miami Herald was up against Cox's Miami News in a battle that probably would leave only one major daily in town. The Knights decided to forgo immediate profits, turn down advertising, expand the news hole and win circulation.

The Herald rapidly became dominant and in a few years it had almost four times the circulation of the News, and its advertising after the war outpaced that of the News by even more.

I remember at least one year when the Herald provided 49 percent of the Knight company's profits, almost as much as the combined total for the Knight papers in Detroit, Akron, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Tallahassee and elsewhere.

This powerfully shrewd strategy would be inconceivable in the publicly owned newspaper companies of today, and that includes almost all the big ones. They eat their seed corn, as John Morton pointed out in his AJR column last month. They have not adjusted to anything like normal profit margins, as Phil Meyer notes in this issue (see "Learning to Love Lower Profits," page 40).

One of the most vital forces required by a democratic society has been drained by "public" ownership, which means in some cases drained by people who contribute little to the economy and exist mainly to manipulate securities. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.