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The New York Herald Tribune

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The New York Herald Tribune

New York Herald Tribune
Founded 1924 (1924)
Ceased publication 1966
Headquarters New York City

The New York Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald.

Other predecessors, which had earlier merged into the New York Tribune, included the original The New Yorker newsweekly (unrelated to the magazine of that name), and the Whig Party's Log Cabin.

The paper was home to such writers as Dorothy Thompson, Red Smith, Richard Watts, Jr. and Walter Kerr and begat the International Herald Tribune and New York magazine.

The New York Herald Tribune ceased publication in August 1966.

Origins

The New York Herald and the New York Tribune were established in 1835 and 1841, respectively. The papers were very different: the Herald was a penny press newspaper whose editor, James Gordon Bennett was a firm Democrat and a pioneer in reporting crime. The Tribune, founded by Horace Greeley, was a Whig (and later Republican) newspaper sold as a sober alternative to some of the excesses of the penny press.

The Herald was the largest circulation newspaper in New York City until the 1880s (when Joseph Pulitzer's World overtook it), while the Tribune's weekly publication was circulated throughout the United States.

The Tribune went into decline in the 1870s, after Greeley died. The paper was taken over by Whitelaw Reid, who used it to further his ambitions in the Republican Party; circulation gradually declined under his leadership. The Herald, taken over by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. in 1867, continued to perform well through the century. Bennett had a strong commitment to international news, and financed Henry Stanley's expedition to find David Livingstone. He later founded the Paris Herald as an English-language paper for Europe.

Bennett moved permanently to Paris in 1877 following a scandal in New York: the publisher, arriving drunk at a party in the mansion of his fiancee's parents, reportedly urinated in the fireplace or the piano (the exact location differed in witnesses' memories). The engagement was broken off, and Bennett remained a bachelor into his 70s. Despite the move, Bennett continued to direct New York operations, usually by telegram, and his distance hurt the overall quality of the paper.

20th century and merger

Whitelaw Reid died in 1912 and was succeeded as publisher by his son, Ogden Mills Reid. The younger Reid devoted more time and resources to his newspaper and gradually started increasing circulation. Bennett died in 1918, and his paper was sold to Frank Munsey, an inveterate collector of publications, who developed a reputation for selling or merging newspapers to the animus of the newspapermen around the country.

Neither the Herald nor the Tribune was doing well in the 1920s, but the Herald, with its larger circulation, was in better shape than the Tribune. A merger was expected, with the widespread belief that the larger paper would absorb the smaller one. It came as a surprise, then, when Reid purchased the Herald from Munsey in 1924: at the Herald, a sign was hung up that said "Jonah just swallowed the whale."

New York Herald Tribune

The newly merged paper was not profitable, and the Reid family had to subsidize the paper in its first few years of existence. But the Herald Tribune quickly began establishing a reputation as a "newspaperman's newspaper", with literary writing encouraged by city editor Stanley Walker. After losing $650,000 in 1932, the Herald Tribune turned a marginal profit the following year, and would remain relatively healthy for the next two decades. Unlike other pro-Republican papers, such as Hearst's New York Journal-American or the Chicago Tribune, which held an isolationist and pro-German stance, the Herald-Tribune was more supportive of the British and the French.

After the death of publisher Ogden Mills Reid in 1947, the Herald Tribune, despite some star writers and columnists, went into a decline under his widow, Helen Rogers Reid, and sons, Whitelaw Reid II and Ogden R. Reid (later a congressman). Many of the staff felt there was too much focus on circulation at the expense of the paper's editorial standards, for example the new push for puzzle contests such as Tangle Town, which was given credit for a rise in weekday circulation of 60,000 to bring the total to over 400,000.[1][2] Its Paris edition became the home-town newspaper of Americans in postwar Europe, while nurturing the careers of expatriate journalists like the humorist Art Buchwald.

In 1958, the Reids sold control to John Hay Whitney. Under Whitney, the paper regained some of its lustre, deciding that since it could not compete with The New York Times in sheer volume of news, it would be faster, feistier and funnier. In this period, the Herald Tribune was radically re-designed under editor-in-chief John Denson and executive editor Freeman Fulbright, and new writers like Tom Wolfe were encouraged to contribute. But the key to success was still advertising dollars, and on that count The Times was the leader. A series of strikes throughout the 1960s did not help the paper's balance sheet.

In 1966, Whitney attempted to organize what would have been New York's first joint operating agreement (JOA) with the Hearst-owned New York Journal American and the Scripps-owned New York World-Telegram and Sun; under the proposed agreement, the Herald Tribune would have continued publication as the morning partner, and a merged Journal-American and World-Telegram would have been the afternoon paper. The JOA was to take effect on May 1, 1966, but the unions immediately threw up a strike, and as the months dragged on, a compromise three-way merger was arrived at on August 15.[3]

The result was the short-lived afternoon New York World Journal Tribune. The first weeks' editions were dominated by the input of the Hearst and Scripps papers, but after a time, the "Widget" (as the merged publication was nicknamed) took on the appearance and style of the late-era Herald Tribune. However, the paper was not a success and folded for good on May 5, 1967.[4]

Following the collapse of the World Journal Tribune, The New York Times and the Washington Post became joint owners with Whitney of the Herald Tribune's European edition, the International Herald Tribune, which is still published under full ownership by the Times, which bought out the Post holdings in 2003.[5] In 2013, the Times annoounced it would be renaming it to the International New York Times. New York magazine is also a descendant of the Herald Tribune, having originally been the Herald Tribune's Sunday magazine, a livelier version of The New York Times Magazine. Following the death of the World Journal Tribune, New York editor Clay Felker organized a group of investors who bought the name and rights, and successfully revived the weekly in 1968.

In Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), the student and aspiring journalist Patricia (Jean Seberg) sells the New York Herald Tribune along the Champs-Élysées. It is also the major focus of the 1952 thriller Assignment Paris, with Dana Andrews as an aggressive New York reporter sent to the Paris newsroom and then Budapest. In the popular Danny Thomas Show on CBS from 1957 to 1964, the main character, Danny Williams (Thomas), a New York nightclub comedian, can be clearly seen in several episodes reading the New York Herald Tribune.

New York Herald Tribune Syndicate comic strips

Harry Staton became the editor and manager of the Syndicate in 1920, with Buell Weare stepping in as the Syndicate business manager in 1946.

Awards

In the 1920s, the New York Herald Tribune established one of the first book review sections that reviewed children's books, and in 1937, the newspaper established the Children's Spring Book Festival Award for the best children's book of the previous year, awarded for three target ages groups: 4–8, 8–12, and 12–16.[6] This was the second nationwide children's book award, after the Newbery Medal, and vied with the Newbery for most prestigious for many years.[6]

The "Dingbat"

For more than a century, the logo of the New York Herald-Tribune, and its later successor, the International Herald Tribune, featured a hand-drawn "dingbat" between the words Herald and Tribune, which first originated as part of the frontpage logotype of the Tribune on April 10, 1866. The drawing included a clock in the center, set to 6:12 pm, and two figures on either side of it, a toga-clad thinker facing leftward and a young child holding an American flag marching rightward. An eagle spreading its wings was perched atop the clock. The dingbat served as an allegorical device to depict antiquity on the left and the progressive American spirit on the right. The significance of the clock's time remains a mystery.[7]

References

Further reading

  • Kahn, Roger. Into My Own: The Remarkable People and Events that Shaped a Life. New York: St. Martin's, 2006. ISBN 0-312-33813-9.
  • Kluger, Richard, with the assistance of Kluger, Phyllis. The Paper: the Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune. New York: Knopf, 1986. ISBN 0-394-50877-7.
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