The Daily News

The Daily News, founded in 1919 as the Illustrated Daily News and acquired in 1927 by Joseph Medill Patterson’s Tribune Company, was the first successful American tabloid newspaper. Its success was due to its sensational coverage of crime and scandal, lurid photographs, and cartoons. At its peak, the News had the highest circulation of any newspaper in the country.

The News established its reputation as a tough, investigative and entertaining paper in the 1930s, when it led the nation in circulation, as well as with its coverage of the Second World War. It was also an early user of the Associated Press wirephoto service, and employed a large staff of photographers. In 1948, the Daily News established its own television station, WPIX, whose call letters were based on the newspaper’s nickname of “New York’s Picture Newspaper.”

By the end of the decade, the Daily News had built a massive headquarters at 220 East 42nd Street near Second Avenue, designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood. The building is an official city landmark and served as the model for the Daily Planet building in the Superman films.

But the News’ darkest days were yet to come. In 1975, the News rolled out what was to become its most famous headline—“FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” The News was referring to President Gerald Ford’s speech the day before that criticized his predecessor’s bankruptcy plan for New York City. The front-page rebuke was widely interpreted as an important factor in Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election.

The Daily News began losing money in the 1970s, and in 1978 it shut down for three months because of a multi-union strike. The News was able to publish using non-union replacement workers, but the financial damage had already been done, and it lost 145,000 of its subscribers.

In 1990, the News was again the subject of controversy when its ten unions allied with the Allied Printing Trades Council to launch a five-month strike. The News was able to continue to publish during the strike, but at a significant cost: in the fourth quarter of 1990, labor costs consumed 44 percent of the newspaper’s revenues.

In 1996, the Daily News launched the quarterly (later monthly) insert BET Weekend for African Americans. It also began publishing its own edition of the internet, called New York Online, in 1997. In 1995, the Daily News left its home of 65 years, the News Building, and moved into a single-story office at 5 Manhattan West.