An intensely detailed but still superficial chronicle of the media baron's life through early middle age.
Download William Randolph Hearst: The Early Years, 1863 1910 1998
Hearst newspapers didn't tell the news; they used it as a means for conveying a point of view William Randolph Hearst was one of the most colorful and important figures of turn-of-the-century America, a man who changed the face of American journalism and whose influence extends to the present day. Now, in William Randolph Hearst, Ben Procter gives us the most authoritative account of Hearst's extraordinary career in newspapers and politics.
Born to great wealth--his father was a partial owner of four fabulously rich mines--Hearst began his career in his early twenties by revitalizing a rundown newspaper, the San Franciso Examiner. Hearst took what had been a relatively sedate form of communicating information and essentially created the modern tabloid, complete with outrageous headlines, human interest stories, star columnists, comic strips, wide photo coverage, and crusading zeal.
He enrolled in Harvard College , where he studied for two years, never graduating.
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Nearly 20 years her senior, Hearst had been seeing her since she was Hearst became involved in an affair with popular film actress and comedienne Marion Davies — , and from about he lived openly with her in California. Millicent separated from her husband in the mids after tiring of his longtime affair with Davies, but the couple remained legally married until Hearst's death.
Millicent built an independent life for herself in New York City as a leading philanthropist , was active in society, and created the Free Milk Fund for the poor in Hearst died in Beverly Hills, Calif. Searching for an occupation, in Hearst took over the management of a newspaper which his father had accepted as payment of a gambling debt, the San Francisco Examiner. Giving his paper a grand motto, "Monarch of the Dailies," he acquired the best equipment and the most talented writers of the time.
A self-proclaimed populist, Hearst went on to publish stories of municipal and financial corruption, often attacking companies in which his own family held an interest. Within a few years, his paper dominated the San Francisco market.
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In , with the financial support of his mother, Hearst bought the failing New York Morning Journal , hiring writers like Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne, and entering into a head-to-head circulation war with his former mentor, Joseph Pulitzer , owner of the New York World , from whom he "stole" Richard Felton Outcault , the inventor of color comic strip. Hearst's was the only major newspaper in the East to support William Jennings Bryan and Bimetallism in The New York Journal later New York Journal-American attained unprecedented levels of circulation through reducing its price and publishing sensational articles on subjects like crime and pseudoscience.
Hearst used his paper to fight tenaciously to liberate Cuba from Spanish rule. He publicized the situation, trying to sell more copies than his rival Pulitzer. Both Hearst and Pulitzer published images of Spanish troops placing Cubans into concentration camps where they suffered and died from disease and hunger. The term yellow journalism , which was derived from the name of The Yellow Kid comic strip in the Journal , was used to refer to the sensational style of newspaper articles that resulted from this competition. In part to aid in his political ambitions, Hearst opened newspapers in some other cities, among them Chicago , Los Angeles , and Boston.
The creation of his Chicago paper was requested by the Democratic National Committee and Hearst used this as an excuse for his mother to transfer him the necessary start-up funds. Hearst also diversified his publishing interests into book publishing and magazines; several of the latter are still extant, including such well-known periodicals as Cosmopolitan , Good Housekeeping , Town and Country , and Harper's Bazaar.
Among his other holdings were two news services, Universal News and International News Service; King Features Syndicate; a film company, Cosmopolitan Productions; extensive New York City real estate; and thousands of acres of land in California and Mexico , along with timber and mining interests. As a newspaper publisher, Hearst promoted writers and cartoonists despite the lack of any apparent demand for them by his readers. The press critic A. Liebling noted that many Hearst stars would not be deemed employable elsewhere.
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Not especially popular with either readers or editors at the time, it is now considered by many to be a classic, a belief once held only by Hearst himself. The Hearst news empire reached a circulation and revenue peak about , but the economic collapse of the Great Depression and the vast over-extension of his empire cost him control of his holdings. It is unlikely that the newspapers ever paid their own way; mining, ranching, and forestry provided whatever dividends the Hearst Corporation paid out.
When the collapse came, all Hearst properties were hit hard, but none more so than the papers; adding to the burden were the Chief's now-reactionary politics, increasingly at odds with those of his readers. Refused the right to sell another round of bonds to unsuspecting investors, the shaky empire tottered.
Unable to service its existing debts, Hearst Corporation faced a court-mandated reorganization in From this point, Hearst was just another employee, subject to the directives of an outside manager. Newspapers and other properties were liquidated, the film company shut down; there was even a well-publicized sale of art and antiquities.
While World War II restored circulation and advertising revenues, his great days were over.
William Randolph Hearst : The Early Years, 1863-1910 by Ben Procter (1998, Hardcover)
Although he served two terms in the U. Congress, Hearst's political ambitions were mostly frustrated. A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives — , he narrowly failed in attempts to become mayor of New York City and and governor of New York He was defeated for the governorship by Charles Evans Hughes.
His defeat in the New York City mayoral election where he ran under a third party of his own creation The Municipal Ownership League is widely attributed to Tammany Hall , the dominant and corrupt Democratic organization in New York City at the time. Hearst's reputation suffered in the s as his political views changed. In , he was a major supporter of Franklin D.
William Randolph Hearst: the early years, 1863-1910
His newspapers energetically supported the New Deal throughout and Hearst papers carried the old publisher's rambling, vitriolic, all-capital-letters editorials, but he no longer employed the energetic reporters, editorialists, and columnists who might have made a serious attack. His newspaper audience was the same working class that Roosevelt swept by three-to-one margins in the election. In , after checking with Jewish leaders to make sure the visit would prove of benefit to Jews, Hearst went to Berlin to interview Adolf Hitler.
Hitler asked why he was so misunderstood by the American press. Because Americans believe in democracy , Hearst answered bluntly, "and are averse to dictatorship.
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As Martin Lee and Norman Solomon noted in their book Unreliable Sources , Hearst "routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events. Hearst's use of " yellow journalism " techniques in his New York Journal to whip up popular support for U. According to Sinclair, Hearst's newspaper employees were "willing by deliberate and shameful lies, made out of whole cloth, to stir nations to enmity and drive them to murderous war.