A brawny metro tabloid in its 20th-century heyday, the New York Daily News excelled at uncovering crime and corruption. It also provided intense city news coverage, celebrity gossip, comics, and a sports section. It won (with ProPublica) a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1993 for uncovering police abuse of eviction rules. Its newspaper building on East 42nd Street is a NYC landmark.
In its waning years, the News suffered from declining circulation and financial trouble, but it was still one of the country’s top newspapers. Its flamboyant and aggressive tone made it especially effective at exposing corrupt politicians and government agencies, particularly those involved in organized crime. In the 1980s, it even went as far as to publish the names of notorious mobster bosses and their family members.
The newspaper’s ill fortunes finally caught up with it in 2017, when it was bought by Tribune Publishing, the owner of several other newspapers and television stations, for $1. In an attempt to bolster its bottom line, the new management at the News began to slash costs and offer buyouts to journalists. In addition, it imposed layoffs at the other newspapers in its chain. The resulting turmoil—plus the possibility that hedge fund Alden Global Capital might take over Tribune Publishing outright—prompted some of its suburban papers to start campaigns asking local benefactors to “save” them.
Death of the Daily News is an obituary for journalism as we know it, but its message is a hopeful one. It shows what happens when a community loses its newspaper, and how citizens are discovering how to fill the void and reclaim their own news.
It is a powerful, insightful, and surprisingly hopeful book, and a must-read for anyone interested in the future of our democracy.
Yale Daily News is a student publication at Yale University and the oldest college daily in the United States. The newspaper is typically published every weekday when the University is in session. Its students have gone on to careers in journalism and public life, including William F. Buckley, Lan Samantha Chang, John Hersey, Joseph Lieberman, Strobe Talbott, Sargent Shriver, and Garry Trudeau.
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