The Daily News

The purpose of news media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – is to inform and educate. This is not to say that they should not entertain – they do that quite well through music and drama on radio and cartoons, crossword puzzles and the like in newspapers. The entertainment comes, however, from other sources – not the news itself. If a cow and a pig are both killed by a falling farm wall, this may not be a major news item in one society, but it will be a big news item in another. This difference is because the level of interest in an event varies according to the relative importance of cows and pigs.

Founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson, the New York Daily News found abundant subject matter for its newspaper in the 1920s: political wrongdoing such as the Teapot Dome scandal and social intrigue such as the romance between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII that led to her abdication. The newspaper also devoted much attention to photography; it was an early user of the Associated Press wirephoto service and developed a substantial staff of photographers.

By the 1970s the Daily News, by now locked in a fierce circulation battle with its rival tabloid New York Post and with a declining advertising base, was struggling to remain profitable. In 1975 the paper ran what would become its most famous headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead!”, referring to President Ford’s veto of a bankruptcy bail-out for the city.

The Daily News is still a large newspaper today, although its circulation is considerably lower than it was in the 1940s. The paper has continued to run a combination of intense city news coverage, celebrity gossip, classified ads, sports, comics and a strong editorial section. The Daily News has always tried to be unbiased, and its reporting is often controversial. In 1993 the paper was acquired by Mort Zuckerman, owner of The Atlantic magazine and founder of USA Today. Zuckerman shifted the newspaper’s focus away from being primarily a sensational tabloid and toward what he called a “serious news operation”; it made significant investments in color presses and began a rebranding effort centered on the phrase “The most New York of all papers”.

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