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History of American Journalism

History of American Journalism

William Randolph Hearst in History of American Journalism

William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) was the owner and editor of the San Francisco Examiner and the New York Journal, and the architect of one of America's largest newspaper chains. He was the son of George Hearst, a mining tycoon who made his fortune in California, Nevada, Montana, and South Dakota. William Randolph Hearst attended Harvard but was expelled before graduating. At the age of 24, his father named him editor of the Examiner, launching his newspaper career. In 1895, William Randolph acquired the New York Morning Journal and transformed it into a more successful penny paper as the New York Journal.

Hearst modeled his papers after the successful New York penny papers of James Gordon Bennett and Joseph Pulitzer. Sensational coverage of scandal, crime, and political corruption contributed to large circulations in both San Francisco and New York. But Hearst also used his father's massive fortune to recruit talented reporters and innovative graphic artists. In 1898, his exaggerated coverage of the Spanish-American War provoked criticism and charges of "yellow journalism."

Building on his success in San Francisco and New York, Hearst began to acquire more newspapers after the turn of the century. By 1930, he had built a chain of 28 newspapers including papers in Los Angles, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Seattle. While he benefited from continuing access to his father's wealth, Hearst applied the principles of consolidation emerging within the business community to improve production efficiencies within his newspaper empire.

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