History of Newspapers: New York Daily News Part 2

About the history of the United States newspaper The New York Daily News, information about the tabloid and some of their scoops.


The Daily News supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt, predicting a Roosevelt victory against Alf Landon in 1936, as did the Gallup poll and the Baltimore Sun. All others thought that Landon would be the winner by a landslide. To show its objectivity, however, the News printed a "Presidential Battle Page," in which arguments on both sides were presented.

Breaking with Roosevelt over foreign policy, in 1940 the paper became isolationist and conservative, swinging like a pendulum as far as it could away from where it had begun. It has maintained its conservative stance ever since, viewing Fidel Castro as "a little communist cockroach," the UN as "a glass cigar box . . . jammed with pompous do-gooders, nervy deadbeats, moochers, saboteurs, spies, and traitors," collegiate dissenters as "kooks and kookettes, Reds, Pinks, punks, and dupes," and liberals as "bleeding hearts."

Its headlines have remained sensational and clever. When Gina Lollobrigida's performance in a film was criticized by an Italian prosecutor, the headline read CHARGES GINA/WAS OBSCENA/ON LA SCREENA. And when, during the Profumo scandal, Mandy Rice-Davies bad-mouthed Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., the headline read QUEEN OF HEARTS CALLS DOUG A BUM.

Patterson died in 1946, but the paper is still faithful to most of his ideals, many of which seem old-fashioned to the new guard in the journalism field. As a Daily News employee said, reflecting on the growth in sophistication of the American public since the 1920s, "The trouble is there are fewer Sweeneys around to tell it to."

The Present. "New York's Picture Newspaper," the Daily News still has the highest circulation of any paper in the country. However, its circulation is falling, while The New York Times's circulation is increasing.

The Daily News has made efforts toward improvement. It now carries at least a full page of financial news in each edition, provides more science coverage, and has toned down its page format so that the headlines are not quite so large.

Headquartered in a modern building on 42nd Street, the Daily News employs over 600 newsmen, over 50 photographers, and 2 pilots to fly its photographers around--a total staff of about 5,000. It also has several full-time foreign correspondents, and a respected Washington bureau.

It maintains its breezy approach and conservative attitude. It is still against communism and liberals.

The News puts the best picture of the day on the 1st page, without regard to who took it--a staffer or a wire service. It retouches 95% of the photographs it uses. Sometimes this causes difficulty, as when in August, 1965, it doctored up a picture of a woman boarding Frank Sinatra's yacht to look like Jacqueline Kennedy only to find that the woman was not Mrs. Kennedy after all.

The Daily News constantly runs promotional contests, and it sponsors events such as art shows and science fairs for high school students, the Harvest Moon Ball in Madison Square Garden (an amateur dance contest), and the New York Golden Gloves amateur boxing contest. Thousands of people write in each week with bright sayings or household hints. Thousands more order the dress patterns and needlework books which are offered for sale.

Many of the paper's by-lines are false, in keeping with a Patterson belief that readers would be disappointed if a favorite writer retired or died. Nancy Randolph, Sally Joy Brown, Elinor Ames, and Kate Cameron are not real people.

The News avoids printing stories about the moral turpitude of religious figures, child molesters, and homosexuals. "There's nothing sexy about an unnatural sex story," a staffer has said.

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