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New York Post

The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continually as a daily, although -- like most other papers -- its publication has been interrupted by labor actions. Since 1993, it has been owned by Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which previously had owned it from 1976 to 1988, and is one of the 10 largest newspapers in the United States. Its editorial offices are located at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, in the New York City borough of Manhattan.

Paper's history

The paper was founded by Alexander Hamilton with about US$10,000 from a group of investors in the autumn of 1801 as the New-York Evening Post, a broadsheet. Hamilton's co-investors included other New York members of the Federalist Party, such as Robert Troup and Oliver Wolcott, who were dismayed by the election of Thomas Jefferson and the rise in popularity of the Democratic-Republican Party. The meeting at which Hamilton first recruited investors for the new paper took place in the country weekend villa that is now Gracie Mansion. Hamilton chose for his first editor William Coleman, but the most famous 19th century Evening Post editor was the poet and Abolitionist William Cullen Bryant. So well respected was the Evening Post under Bryant's editorship, it received praise from the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, in 1864.

In 1881 Henry Villard took control of the Evening Post, which in 1897 passed to the management of his son, Oswald Garrison Villard, a founding member of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union. Villard sold the paper in 1918, after widespread allegations of pro-German sympathies during World War I hurt its circulation. The buyer was Thomas Lamont, a senior partner in the Wall Street firm of J.P. Morgan. Unable to stem the paper's financial losses, he sold it to a consortium of 34 financial and reform political leaders, headed by Edwin F. Gay, dean of the Harvard Business School, whose members included Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Conservative Cyrus H. K. Curtis—publisher of the Ladies Home Journal—purchased the New York Evening Post in 1924 and briefly turned it into a non-sensational tabloid in 1933. J. David Stern purchased the paper in 1934, changed its name to the New York Post, and restored its size and liberal perspective.

Dorothy Schiff purchased the paper in 1939; her husband, George Backer, was named editor and publisher. Her second editor (and third husband) Ted Thackrey became co-publisher and co-editor with Schiff in 1942, and recast the newspaper into its current tabloid format. James Wechsler became editor of the paper in 1949, running both the news and the editorial pages; in 1961, he turned over the news section to Paul Sann and remained as editorial page editor until 1980. Under Schiff's tenure the Post was devoted to liberalism, supporting trade unions and social welfare, and featured some of the most popular columnists of the time, such as Drew Pearson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Max Lerner, Murray Kempton, Pete Hamill, and Eric Sevareid, in addition to theatre critic Richard Watts, Jr. and Broadway columnist Earl Wilson. In 1976 the Post was bought by Rupert Murdoch for $30 million. The Post at this point was the only surviving afternoon daily in New York City, but its circulation under Schiff had grown by two-thirds.

The Murdoch years

While in the past the newspaper had been a long-established politically liberal stalwart, in recent years the paper has adopted a conservative slant, reflecting Murdoch's politics.

Murdoch imported the sensationalist "tabloid journalism" style of his British tabloid papers such as The Sun, typified by the Post's famous April 15, 1983 headline: HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR. In its 35 year anniversary edition, NY Magazine listed this as one of the greatest headlines ever.

Because of the institution of federal regulations limiting media cross-ownership after Murdoch's purchase of WNYW-TV to launch the Fox broadcast network, Murdoch was forced to sell the paper for $37.6 million in 1988 to Peter S. Kalikow, a real estate magnate with no news experience. When Kalikow declared bankruptcy in 1993, the paper was temporarily managed by Steven Hoffenberg, a financier who later pled guilty to securities fraud; and, for two weeks, by Abe Hirschfeld, who made his fortune building parking garages. The Post was repurchased in 1993 by Murdoch's News Corporation, after numerous political officials, including Democratic New York Governor Mario Cuomo, persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to grant Murdoch a permanent waiver from the cross-ownership rules that had forced him to sell the paper five years earlier.

Under Murdoch's renewed direction, the paper continued its conservative editorial viewpoint. In 2008, the New York Post endorsed the Republican candidate John McCain for president.

Highlights

The paper is well known for its sports section, which has been praised for its comprehensiveness; it begins on the back page, and among other coverage, contains columns about sports in the media by Phil Mushnick.

The New York Post is also well known for its gossip columnists Liz Smith and Cindy Adams. The best known gossip section is "Page Six", edited by Richard Johnson. Feb. 2006 saw the debut of Page Six: the magazine, distributed free inside the paper. In September of 2007, it started to be distributed weekly.

Sales

The daily circulation of the Post decreased in the final years of the Schiff era from 700,000 in the late 1960s to approximately 418,000. A resurgence during the 21st century increased circulation to 724,748 in April, 2007, achieved partly by lowering the price from 50 to 25 cents. During October, 2006, the Post for the first time ever passed its rival, the Daily News, in circulation. The Daily News has since regained the lead over the Post.

One commentator has suggested that the Post cannot become profitable as long as the competing Daily News survives, and that Murdoch may be trying to force the Daily News to fold or sell out.

Criticism

The New York Post has been criticized since the beginning of Murdoch's ownership for what many consider its lurid headlines, sensationalism, blatant advocacy and conservative bias. In 1980, the Columbia Journalism Review asserted that "the New York Post is no longer merely a journalistic problem. It is a social problem--a force for evil."

Perhaps the most serious allegation against the Post is that it is willing to contort its news coverage to suit the business needs of Murdoch, in particular that the paper has avoided reporting anything that is unflattering to the government of the People's Republic of China. Murdoch has invested heavily in satellite television in China and wants to maintain the favor of local media regulators.

Ian Spiegelman, a former reporter for the paper's Page Six gossip column who had been fired by the paper in 2004 , said in a statement for a law suit against the paper that in 2001 he was ordered to kill an item on Page Six about a Chinese diplomat and a strip club because it would have "angered the Communist regime and endangered Murdoch’s broadcast privileges.

Critics say that the Post allows its editorial positions to shape its story selection and news coverage. But as the Post executive editor, Steven D. Cuozzo, sees it, it was the Post that "broke the elitist media stranglehold on the national agenda."

According to a survey conducted by Pace University in 2004, the New York Post was rated the least credible major news outlet in New York, and the only news outlet to receive more responses calling it "not credible" than credible (44% not credible to 39% credible).

There have been numerous controversies surrounding the Post:

  • In 1997 a national news story concerning Rebecca Sealfon's victory in the Scripps National Spelling Bee circulated. Sealfon was sponsored by the Daily News. The Post published a picture of her but altered the photograph to remove the name of the Daily News as printed on a placard she was wearing.
  • On November 8, 2000, the Post printed "BUSH WINS!" in a huge headline, although the election remained in doubt because of the recount needed in Florida. Like the Post, many other newspapers around the country published a similar headline after the four major TV networks called the election for Bush.
  • On March 10, 2004, the Post re-ran as a full-color page one photo, a photo that had already been run three days earlier in black and white on page 9, showing the 24-story suicide plunge of a New York University student, who had since been identified as 19-year old Diana Chien, daughter of a prominent Silicon Valley, California businessman. Among criticisms levelled at the Post was their having added a tightly-cropped inset photo of Chien, a former high school track athlete, depicting her in mid-jump from an athletic meet, giving the false impression that it was taken during her fatal act, despite the fact that she had fallen face up.
  • On July 4, 2004, the Post ran an article claiming to have learned exclusively that Senator John Kerry, the Democratic Party's Presidential nominee-in-waiting, had selected former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to be the Party's Vice Presidential nominee. The article, under the headline "KERRY'S CHOICE," ran without a byline. The next day, the Post had to print a new story, "KERRY'S REAL CHOICE", reporting Kerry's actual selection of Senator John Edwards of North Carolina as his running mate.
  • On April 21, 2006, several Asian-American advocacy groups protested the use of the headline "Wok This Way" for a Post article about President Bush's meeting with the president of the People's Republic of China.
  • On September 27, 2006 the Post published an article called "Powder Puff Spooks Keith" that made fun of Countdown host Keith Olbermann receiving an anthrax threat from an unknown terrorist. By reporting on the incident, the Post have actually broken the general Federal Bureau of Investigation protocol of not disclosing the event which could hamper their investigation. Keith Olbermann had some harsh words for the Post on his show after this.
  • On December 7, 2006 the Post doctored a front-page photo to depict the co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, in primate fur, under the headline "SURRENDER MONKEYS", inspired by a once used line from The Simpsons.
  • On April 23, 2008, the "Post" ran a story on Page 6 stating that there was a sex tape about to surface featuring actor/stuntman Bam Margera and Lindsey Hughes, fiancée of radio personality Gregg "Opie" Hughes, co-host of the Opie and Anthony Show. It also stated that Gregg Hughes was planning on taking legal action to prevent the tape from running on the Internet. Hughes himself said adamantly that there was no sex tape and he had never planned on taking any legal action against the phantom tape from surfacing. Also, on April 24, Margera confirmed during a phone-in to the Opie and Anthony Show that there was no sex tape and he had never met Opie's fiancée in his life. The Post printed a full retraction on May 5, 2008, after it was revealed that Chaunce Hayden of Steppin' Out magazine had supplied false information about the existence of the tape.

The Post and the Daily News often take potshots at each other's articles and their accuracy, particularly in their respective gossip-page items, saying that the juicy information printed about some celebrity or other has been checked, and that the celebrity or his/her publicist has denied it.

In certain editions of the February 14, 2007, newspaper, an article referring to Senator Hillary Clinton's support base for her 2008 presidential run referred to Senator Barack Obama as "Osama" (Bin Laden), the paper realized its error and corrected it for the newer editions and the website. The Post noted the error and apologized in the February 15, 2007 edition. Earlier, on January 20, 2007, the New York Post received some criticism for running a potentially misleading headline, "'Osama' Mud Flies at Obama", for a story that discussed rumors that Sen. Obama had been raised as a Muslim and concealed it. The story itself never mentioned the Saudi terrorist. On September 8, The Post endorsed Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, for the presidency of the United States

Trivia

  • The New York Post, established 1801, describes itself as the nation's oldest continuously published daily newspaper. The Hartford Courant, which describes itself as the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper, was founded in 1764 as a semi-weekly paper; it did not begin publishing daily until 1836. The New Hampshire Gazette, which has trademarked its claim of being The Nation's Oldest Newspaper, was founded in 1756, also as a weekly. Moreover, since the 1890s it has been published only for weekends.
  • When Rupert Murdoch once asked the chairman of Bloomingdale's why he was not buying ads in the Post, he was allegedly told "because your readers are my shoplifters." (This anecdote has also been told about other publications, and the Bloomingdale's chairman, Marvin Traub, has denied ever saying this about the Post.)
  • The Public Enemy song "A Letter to the New York Post" from their album Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black is a complaint about what they believed to be negative and inaccurate coverage African-Americans received from the paper.
  • In 2004, the Post received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

Fictional references

  • In the Spider-Man films, the Daily Bugle appears to be based on the Post. The Post explicitly takes the place of the Bugle in the Daredevil film.
  • In the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) makes a reference to the New York Post by telling her assistant Andie Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway) that Rupert Murdoch should cut her a check for all the papers she sells for him. She later says "Another Divorce splashed across Page Six" in reference to the Page Six Gossip Column.
  • A fictional paper, the New York Ledger, clearly modeled on the New York Post, with similar layout and loud tabloid style often appears on the television show Law & Order.
  • In the spy farce film Top Secret!, one of the villain's henchmen is introduced as "Klaus . . . a moron, who knows only what he reads in the New York Post." Actor John Carney, a large man with a blank, rather unintelligent looking expression on his face, is seen holding a copy of the New York Post bearing the headline "MANIAC STALKS OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN."
  • Throughout the animated TV series The Critic there is a running joke where most headlines of The New York Post is connected, in some way, to severed heads.
  • The Post has also appeared in such films as The Manchurian Candidate (the original version with Frank Sinatra), Men in Black and Working Girl.
  • In the 1988 film Married to the Mob, an FBI agent played by Oliver Platt holds up a newspaper to his partner, played by Matthew Modine. Although the paper is called the New York News, it is otherwise a perfect match for the Post. The headline, "HAMBURGER HOMICIDE", discusses a mob shootout at a fictional fast food chain called Burger World, in which a boss played by Dean Stockwell not only survived an attempted hit which killed his driver, but also killed the opposing hitmen, including the drive-thru attendant wearing the chain's mascot clown uniform and makeup, leading to the line, "Some clown just tried to kill me!"
  • In October 1984, a parody called "The Post New York Post" was published, ostensibly the issue from the day after the start of World War III. The front-page headline was "KABOOM!" The subhead read, "Michael Jackson, 80 million others dead.
  • In the show Entourage, there have been numerous occasions of the New York Post being seen.
  • In the Jay McInerney novel Bright Lights, Big City and the film based on it the main character (played by Michael J Fox in the film) reads the Post and becomes obsessed with an ongoing story about a baby in a coma.

See also

References

Further reading

External links

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