Patterson, family of American journalists. Robert Wilson Patterson, 1850–1910, b. Chicago, grad. Williams, 1871, became (1871) a reporter on the Chicago Times and after 1873 was attached to the Chicago Tribune. He married Elinor Medill, the daughter of Joseph Medill. After being successively assistant night editor, Washington correspondent, editorial writer, and managing editor, he became, upon the death of his father-in-law in 1899, editor in chief of the newspaper, a position he held until his death.
His son, Joseph Medill Patterson, 1879–1946, b. Chicago, worked (1901–5) on the staff of the Chicago Tribune, was elected (1903) to the Illinois legislature, and served (1905–6) as commissioner of public works in Chicago. His earlier socialistic views—recorded in the novels, plays, and articles that he wrote—gradually faded away after 1910, when he returned to the staff of the Tribune. By 1914, he gained part control of the Tribune, which was managed by his cousins, Joseph Medill McCormick and Robert Rutherford McCormick, and he remained as its coeditor until 1925.
Patterson served in France in World War I, and upon his return to the United States he founded (1919) the New York Daily News—the first successful tabloid in the country. By sensational coverage of sex and crime stories, and by extensive use of photography, the Daily News became the largest circulation newspaper in the United States. In 1925 he relinquished his holdings in the Chicago Tribune and then continued to expand the operations of the Daily News syndicate. He supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt until 1940, after which Patterson's isolationist viewpoint caused him to attack the Democratic administration.
His sister, Eleanor Medill Patterson, 1884–1948, b. Chicago, also was a newspaper editor. She inherited an interest in the Chicago Tribune and became attached to the New York Daily News. In 1930 she became editor of the Hearst syndicate's Washington Herald, which she leased, together with the Washington Times, in 1937. Two years later she purchased the two newspapers and merged them into the Washington Times-Herald. "Cissy" Patterson became well-known for her spectacular news presentation. Under the name of Eleanor M. Gizycka she wrote the books Glass Houses (1926) and Fall Flight (1928).
Joseph Medill Patterson's daughter, Alicia Patterson, 1906–63, b. Chicago, joined the Daily News as a reporter in 1927. In 1939, in conjunction with her husband, Harry Guggenheim, she founded Newsday in Garden City, New York. She patterned her paper after her father's tabloid but remained a firm supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a strong internationalist.
See J. W. Tebbel, An American Dynasty (1947, repr. 1968); biographies of E. M. Patterson by P. F. Healy (1966) and R. A. Hoge (1966).