Television grew rapidly in the early and middle 1950s, presenting newspapers with a new competitor both for advertising revenue and for consumers' time. While the continued prosperity of newspapers seemed to minimize the threat of the new medium at first, publishers and editors took greater notice of television's competition for advertising and newsgathering as the 1950s wore on. Television's potency as a rival became clearer just as publishers were growing increasingly concerned with steadily rising costs and narrowing profit margins. By decade's end, television's vast audiences had forced newspapers to adjust to a new media marketplace.
While television would ultimately be one of the greatest competitors to newspapers in the fifty years following World War II, print journalists were slow to come to terms with the new medium, particularly in the early postwar years when television seemed to affect newspapers only minimally. Especially in the late 1940s, television posed little threat to newspapers. Publishers and editors were confident that they could come to terms with television just as they had with radio in previous decades. "Fifty-four million buyers of newspapers prove every day that newspapers are indispensable to the people," boasted Frank Tripp, publisher of the Elmira, N.Y., newspapers and general manager of the Gannett newspaper chain, in a 1948 column. "In the face of every development which bade fair to harm them, newspapers have risen to an all-time high in readership, and continue to climb." Television would prove a greater threat to magazines and to radio than to newspapers, Tripp predicted.(1)
With newspapers enjoying a postwar boom and with only a few television stations on the air, the new medium seemed more a curiosity than a competitor in the late 1940s. The prosperous newspaper business, predicted New York Daily News executive editor Richard W. Clarke in 1947, could easily meet any newsgathering challenge from television. Print journalism, after all, seemed "far more fascinating, far more varied, and offers far greater possibility of financial reward" than ever. But Clarke added that newspaper companies were nonetheless wise to hedge their bets and buy into the new medium. Newspapers owned six of the fifteen television stations broadcasting in 1947.(2)
The earliest television attempts at presenting the news certainly provided little cause for alarm among print journalists. In the 1940s and early 1950s, television stations and networks put little effort into covering day-to-day, routine news. Television news developed slowly as the early pioneers adapted radio news and newsreel techniques to the new medium. Network newscasts began in 1948, but the newscasts were only fifteen minutes long and included little original reporting. The television networks employed correspondents and film crews in a few major cities but otherwise depended upon stringers and newsreel companies for film. Television news was in its infancy. "Pictorial news is great when it is great," said television news director Paul W. White of San Diego, Calif., in 1953. "But more frequently it ranges from the dull to the mediocre--and even more frequently it's painfully slow and inadequate." Television, White said, turned in only a "lackluster performance" in explaining the day's in-depth news.(3) Critics dismissed early television news, as Sig Mickelson of CBS News put it in 1957, as "a hybrid monstrosity derived from newspapers, radio news, and newsreels, which inherited none of the merits of its ancestors."(4)
In the 1940s, a few special events were televised as much for their novelty as for news value as television networks experimented with the new medium's potential for covering special events. Newspapermen ridiculed some of these very early, crude efforts, as when memorial services commemorating Abraham Lincoln's birthday were telecast February 12, 1946. The television industry had hyped the event because it was to be broadcast over a network of several stations, but it lacked editing and appeared unprofessional, as when "some dumb cluck" walked in front of the camera, complained Editor & Publisher reviewer Jerry Walker. Television had wasted a day's effort on an event that would have rated only a picture and a caption in the newspaper. "The big show fell flat," Walker concluded.(5)
In 1948 the major television networks televised both the Democratic and Republican presidential conventions on the few television stations on the air. Both political parties had chosen Philadelphia as their convention site out of consideration for network television's technical requirements, and the conventions were broadcast to fourteen Eastern television stations in thirteen states. The convention attracted a television audience of ten million, a sizable achievement given the technical limitations of the networks and the youth of television.(6) Newspaper correspondents at the convention regarded the new medium as an amusing but harmless nuisance. The earliest live broadcasts, critics noted, did not seem particularly informative. But the bulky equipment and bright lights of the television crews had threatened to turn convention press conferences into "Hollywood side shows," lamented Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert E. Kennedy after the Democratic National Convention. "The correspondents are being used for props and for free, too," Kennedy said. "But at the same time the gimmick is so new that they go along against their better judgment."(7)
But the "gimmick" of television had a vastly expanding audience in the early and mid 1950s. From 1952, the year the Federal Communications Commission resumed issuing television broadcast licenses following a four-year freeze, through 1957, the number of television stations jumped from 108 stations to 544.(8) By 1957, television stations were operating in 317 United States cities, and sales of televisions skyrocketed throughout the decade. In 1954, 1955, and 1956, more than seven million television sets were manufactured each year in the United States alone.(9) In 1957, 78 percent of all American homes included a television set. Television viewing increased throughout the 1950s, reaching five and a half hours a day in the average American home by the end of the decade.(10) As television viewing grew, so did television advertising receipts. The medium that had taken in only $57.8 million in advertising revenues nationwide in 1949 grew by 1962 to take in $1.74 billion.(11) Between 1949 and 1955, television's advertising volume increased an average of 61.5 percent a year, leveling off to a 6.3 percent annual increase between 1956 and 1962.(12)
Newspapers, by contrast, were having a prosperous but not spectacular decade. The number of daily newspapers held steady while circulation continued to hit new highs through much of the 1950s, reaching a high of 58,881,746 in daily circulation by 1960. However, yearly circulation increases were usually quite small--from one to two percent--and total circulation of all newspapers actually declined in 1952 and 1958, reflecting dips in the national economy.(13) Total daily newspaper advertising revenue was very healthy, climbing to $3.23 billion in 1956, dwarfing the $1.2 billion spent on television the same year.(14) Television had indeed cut deeply into newspapers' national advertising revenues, but newspapers' commanding lead in overall receipts seemed to diminish the upstart medium's potential advertising threat, particularly in the first half of the 1950s. Television had also benefited newspapers in two ways--directly through advertisements for TV programs and TV sets, and indirectly through newspaper ownership of TV stations.(15)
Television's on-the-spot coverage of special events came into its own in the 1950s and demonstrated television's power to a degree that gave many print journalists pause. Even before the Kefauver hearings or the national tour of General Douglas MacArthur on his return from Korea--both televised in 1951 to rapt national audiences--print journalists had marveled at television's unique power to transfix audiences. When 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus fell into a South Pasadena, Calif., well in April 1949, Los Angeles television station KTLA kept reporters on the scene for twenty-eight hours as rescuers tried to save the toddler. The story, transmitted to television stations in the Far West in a primitive network hookup and later picked up by stations nationwide, impressed newspaper reporters with its drawing power. "I haven't seen anything like this since the end of World War II," observed a telephone operator for the Salt Lake City Tribune. "Even tiny children, almost too young to talk, are calling for news about Kathy."(16) Los Angeles newspaperman Will Fowler remembered the story years later as a turning point for television news. "This was the first time that the cathode ray tube had out-and-out scooped the newspapers," Fowler said. "There was no argument, not even a rebuttal."(17)
The United States Senate hearings conducted in 1951 by Senator Estes Kefauver's Crime Investigating Committee provided a similar demonstration of television's prowess. At times the hearings into the problem of organized crime captured 100 percent of the television viewing audience.(18) The hearings transformed television overnight "from everybody's whipping boy" to a public benefactor, wrote the editors of Broadcasting magazine after the hearings. "Its camera eye opened the public's."(19) Print journalists took notice. "I was in New York at that time, and I admit you couldn't get any work out of anybody, your wife or your secretary or anybody else," marveled John Crosby, the New York Herald-Tribune's radio-TV columnist, in 1951. "They sat glued to that machine."(20) The melodramatic hearings had brought the shadowy world of organized crime to life. "The last week has demonstrated with awesome vividness what television can do to enlighten, to educate and to drive home a lesson," wrote New York Times television critic Jack Gould.(21) John W. Bloomer, managing editor of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger, said the Kefauver hearings "got a reaction that stunned even the most enthusiastic of the television drum beaters. TV suddenly came of age as a medium for dissemination of news."(22)
Similarly, the triumphant return of General Douglas MacArthur to the United States after his firing by President Truman attracted a large television audience. An estimated 44 million people watched some part of his four-day tour.(23) "We'll follow MacArthur from the time he arrives until he's down to his shorts in his hotel room," one television executive said, and the TV crews did almost that.(24) Television cameras followed MacArthur's arrival in Hawaii, his stop in San Francisco, his triumphant Manhattan ticker tape parade, and his address to Congress. Time magazine opined that "the MacArthur show was TV's biggest and best job to date."(25)
But the MacArthur speech also demonstrated a benefit to newspapers of television's live coverage of special events: Such events seemed to increase, not decrease, newspaper circulation. The Atlanta Constitution's Ralph McGill, in Washington for the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) convention, conducted a spot check of area newspapers after the MacArthur speech and found that street sales were up for every newspaper.(26) Televised news events seemed to increase readers' curiosity about those events, pushing them to buy the newspaper to read about what they had just seen. "Sensational news over radio and TV brings a flood of inquiries into our office," reported Ralph Anderson of the Eau Claire (Wis.) Leader at an editors' meeting in 1953.(27) Likewise, newspapers across the country consistently reported a boost in sales after televised special events. The New York Daily News, for example, sold 100,000 more copies than usual the day after the televised coronation of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. "It was nothing short of sensational," the Daily News reported.(28) Print journalists took such news as proof that television and newspapers were not direct competitors. "They are two media of information, just as bourbon and water are two liquids," noted Fort Worth Star-Telegram editor Phil North in 1951, "and as many editors know so well, neither will replace the other but they are fine together."(29)
"I do not believe," wrote New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger in 1951, "that television has decreased our circulation at all. If anything, it has stimulated it." Sulzberger said that serious newspapers like the Times, which emphasized news rather than entertainment, had the least to fear from television. The Times' executive editor, Turner Catledge, agreed. "We do not regard TV as a direct competitor of the type of newspaper we publish," Catledge wrote a colleague in 1951. But both Sulzberger and Catledge agreed that television might threaten those journals that relied upon entertainment and features to attract readers; their audience would be lost to their electronic rival, a far more effective and compelling entertainment medium.(30)
Other newspaper publishers and editors took comfort in surveys and studies showing that newspapers suffered far less from television's rapid rise than did other media."As for the reading of newspapers and magazines, the impact of the television medium apparently is so negligible as to be significant only to a statistician," wrote Gould of the New York Times in 1949.(31) NBC interviewed 7,500 people in Fort Wayne, Ind., and found that radio listening had fallen by 50 percent and magazine reading by 40 percent six months after the introduction of television in the early 1950s. But newspaper reading had declined far less, by only 18 percent, from thirty-nine to thirty-two minutes a day.(32) Other studies showed even less of an impact on newspaper reading time. Media researcher Leo Bogart concluded in 1958 that newspaper reading was protected from substantial encroachment by its importance as a local medium that readers habitually turned to.(33)
An editors' panel at the 1951 ASNE convention assessed "The Challenge of Radio and Television to Newspapers." Most panelists agreed that reaction to televised events of Kefauver and MacArthur had demonstrated television's power but doubted that newspapers' circulation and news dominance were threatened. "As a competitor in news, apart from Kefauver, apart from these special events . . . I don't think television is nearly as serious a threat as radio was," Crosby said. Other editors, however, were troubled, saying television should be considered a direct competitor and treated accordingly. "Yes, the battle is on, whether we like to admit it or not," said L.L. Winship of the Boston Globe. "It is a battle over the time it takes to watch television and the time it takes to read a newspaper. It's a battle for the revenue we need to keep our newspapers free and prosperous."(34)
As television's audience and influence increased throughout the 1950s, so did print journalists' respect for the new medium as a serious competitor that would require newspapers to adapt. Television's increasing influence was evident in the medium's coverage of the 1952 and 1956 national political conventions; television dominated the proceedings. The audiences for the televised events were far larger than in 1948, and the massive television crews the networks used to staff the conventions seemed for the first time to intrude on turf previously reserved for delegates and for print and radio reporters. More than 60 million people watched the 1952 Republican National Convention, the largest audience for a live television event to that date. The major broadcast networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, and DuMont--each sent crews of 300 broadcasters and technicians to the International Amphitheater in Chicago, selected as the convention site because it was the only hall in town big enough for the television equipment and cables. Newsweek magazine dubbed it the "television convention."(35)
After covering the convention, some reporters were despondent at television's advantage over the printed word. New Orleans Item correspondent Thomas Sancton reported that print reporters "have come up against a machine that scoops them automatically, and can never itself be scooped." Newspaper reporters might still be needed to provide depth reporting and background, of course, but they seemed downright irrelevant at national events covered live by the television cameras. "I had one brief memorable insight into the impact of TV on the news business," Sancton recalled of covering the convention. "Standing in a massed group of reporters at an Eisenhower press conference, two TV receiving sets carried his image as he spoke--and also, in the background, our notebooks and moving pencils as we wrote."(36) The Manchester Guardian's correspondent, Alistair Cooke, was equally impressed. "An honest reporter can only admit that the incomparable mobility of the television camera has beaten him to an impotent standstill," Cooke said.(37)
Gould, the New York Times' television critic, wrote after the Republican convention that it had marked the maturation of television as a news medium. "The spectacular medium of TV last week really won its spurs as an original and creative reporter willing to stand on its own feet and not be pushed around," Gould wrote. "As such, it is a vital and welcome addition to the ranks of the Fourth Estate." Gould found that television coverage had provided viewers with insight into the workings of democracy in a personal, immediate way. Television had complemented, but not replaced, the in-depth coverage of newspapers. "Millions had the best seats in the house for a show that lived up to its advance billing," Gould said.(38) Television's performance in the 1956 conventions was equally impressive. More than 100 million people saw some part of the conventions, prompting broadcasters to claim that the public had now become accustomed to a new kind of pictorial journalism.(39)
At the conventions as elsewhere, print journalists resented the intrusion of the new medium into news events and were dismayed at television's rapid acceptance by newsmakers. The technical requirements of television combined with the new medium's glamour to give television correspondents the upper hand with some sources, particularly politicians. Much to print journalists' dismay, public men and women soon learned to like the new electronic medium for the control it gave them over their public utterances. McGill of the Atlanta Constitution complained at the 1956 Democratic National Convention that only the most famous newspaper writers could get any interviews; the politicians had much rather be on television. As one CBS producer put it, "The smart politicians just automatically seem to give us priority."(40) Walter Trohan, a veteran reporter for the Chicago Tribune, also noticed this phenomenon, which he said made it harder and harder for print reporters to do their jobs. "Reporters find their sources preferring to spill their secrets or make their observations over the airwaves," Trohan said, looking back at these years. As one United States senator once told Trohan, "I'd rather have one minute on a TV show than hit the front page of any newspaper, even in my hometown."(41)
Television's growing importance to public affairs was beyond doubt, and broadcasting's rising influence seemed to come at the expense of the print medium. President Dwight D. Eisenhower noted in 1955 that television was becoming more important than newspapers in fostering understanding of public issues. Broadcasting, Eisenhower said, could engage and involve viewers to a degree that cold print never could. "In many ways therefore the effect of your industry in swaying public opinion, and I think, particularly about burning questions of the moment, may be even greater than the press, although I am sure my friends here of the press will have plenty to criticize in that statement," he said.(42)
Eisenhower had recognized this increasing importance of television in 1953, when he suggested allowing television and newsreel cameras into his presidential press conferences. Print reporters were aghast. Editor & Publisher was speaking for many newspaper journalists when it editorialized against the proposal. The magazine's editors said that "to inject television with all its equipment and other handicaps into present White House press conferences would disrupt and alter the institution as we know it."(43) Over the objections of grumbling print reporters, filming was allowed beginning January 19, 1955. Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, defended the new practice and playfully reminded the print journalists that "we are in the 20th Century--the second part." The cameras did not prove to be disruptive, however, and about two-thirds of the first conference was later shown on film or on television, after the content was approved by the White House.(44)
To print reporters, television seemed in the 1950s to have taken over the press conference, a venerable institution whose very name reflected the extent to which it had long been dominated by newspaper reporters. Broadcasting first intruded on the press conference in the national political conventions in 1952. "The press conference is an instrument vital to democratic processes and it is being overwhelmed by paraphernalia," complained New York Times correspondent James Reston after the Republican National Convention in 1952. Reporters claimed that convention press conferences were being wrecked by the intrusion of showoff television correspondents accompanied by bulky cameras. The chaos brought by the new medium often eliminated the opportunity for important follow-up questions, and partisan audiences attracted by the television cameras violated decorum. Print reporters were now actors in a TV show, with TV reporters asking most of the questions. "It is difficult to pursue your question when someone is insisting on a phony entertainment angle," lamented William S. White of the New York Times. A group of print reporters proposed press conference ground rules to permit follow-up questions and forbid partisan audiences, but the proposals went nowhere.(45)
Broadcast coverage of press conferences remained a sore point for newspaper reporters throughout the 1950s. Print journalists complained that their broadcast counterparts were too often ill-prepared and entertainment-oriented at press gatherings, characteristics that interfered with effective journalism. The New York Times' United Nations reporter, A.M. Rosenthal, complained in 1953 that television cameras forced journalists to work in a "hectic, noisy, movie-set atmosphere." Television's presence led to "superficiality and phoniness" on the part of news sources, who in the presence of cameras tended to play to the television audience at home while refusing to provide print journalists with information. "Most American newsmen have no objection at all to TV's legitimate news coverage," Rosenthal said. "But they do feel that they are not under any obligation to cripple their craft to help television put on a `show.'"(46)
Print reporters resented the fact that their questions at news conferences elicited news that benefited the television crews, whose reports were then broadcast before the newspapers went to press. To newspaper reporters at least, broadcast journalists contributed nothing to news conferences except bright lights, softball questions, and frequent delays. "I look upon them as parasites," one New Orleans editor said of television reporters in 1957. Russell Harris of the Detroit News took an equally hard line, admitting with pride, "I've pulled many a plug out of the wall."(47) For a time in 1957, print reporters from three of the four Los Angeles newspapers refused to attend any press conference at which television news crews were present. Print reporters wanted the broadcasters relegated to separate sessions. "They should handle their own news instead of cashing in on our brains and experience," said the Los Angeles Times' city editor, Bud Lewis. "The TV people are afraid of separate conferences, because they just don't have the trained reporters to handle them."(48) The impractical proposal for holding separate news conferences never caught on, however.
As television audiences increased through the 1950s, newspapers editors and publishers were forced to adjust editorial content to take television audiences into account. Editors found that television viewing was changing the expectations that readers brought to their newspapers. Particularly, readers expected newspapers to flesh out the sketchy accounts they'd seen on television and to cater to interests that television had created. For example, since readers had seen many sporting events for themselves on television, sports writers began to write fewer play-by-play accounts in favor of feature and interpretive articles. Sports editors also began to increase coverage of sports that were given wider popularity by television, such as boxing and wrestling. Chicago Herald-American sports editor Leo Fischer declared in 1951 that sports fans would buy only the newspaper "that complements what they see on their TV screen."(49) Other editors agreed. A 1955 survey of 272 editors at Associated Press newspapers in forty-six states found that television had created more "casual" sports readers who were demanding to read more about what they had already seen. Editors surveyed said they believed that better, simpler writing and more human interest features were needed to appeal to this expanding readership.(50)
At the New York Times, the nation's leading daily newspaper, editors were mindful of television coverage in crafting their own coverage of an event. Robert E. Garst, the Times' assistant managing editor, noted in 1956 that the newspaper's reporters regularly monitored television coverage of a news event to determine if they'd missed anything. "We merely try to give the reader all the answers to incidents he might have seen on TV," Garst said.(51) Catledge, the Times executive editor, said in 1956 that television had altered both sports and political coverage at the newspaper. In both areas Times reporters were attempting to provide ample details about what viewers had seen and to supply information about interests that broadcasting had created. TV broadcasts, Catledge said, had also accelerated an effort at the Times to shorten and simplify news articles. "In short, our view is that TV has opened up new vistas of interest, new areas for coverage, and has suggested methods by which newspapers can actually meet its thrust," Catledge said. "So far as we on the New York Times are concerned, we can say that TV has been more of a positive blessing than negative limiting competition."(52)
Readers' new ability to witness news firsthand on television had led some to be more critical of what they read in the newspaper. Harry C. Withers of the Dallas News complained in 1954 that some readers who had watched the Army-McCarthy hearings on television believed the News' coverage was slanted because it omitted some portions of the hearings.(53) The Washington Star's Herbert F. Corn noticed the same phenomenon. "The TV viewer assumed a more important role," Corn said. "He combed the newspaper for that particular portion of the hearing that he had witnessed and we became accountable for the largest array of amateur reporters ever assembled--the entire television audience."(54)
Television also exerted conflicting pressures on editors as to what kinds of news they should publish. On the one hand, television, by pre-empting newspapers' ability to get breaking news first, seemed to encourage the trend toward interpretive reporting, newspapers' apparent strength against their electronic competitor. On the other hand, the entertainment fare that dominated television's schedule threatened to encourage newspapers to print more features to meet the competition. Many editors viewed these conflicting pressures with dismay. New York Times Sunday editor Lester Markel, no stranger to overstatement, likened the editors' consternation to an episode of delirium tremens. "American journalism is suffering a severe case of D-T-V's," Markel declared in 1954. "Some of the shaking and quivering is justified, but there is no excuse whatsoever for the atomic ague now in process." Markel, long an advocate of interpretive articles in newspapers, said the press could best compete by emphasizing the delivery of detailed news with ample perspective and background.(55) University of Missouri journalism educator Frank Luther Mott said in 1958 that broadcasting was forcing a reshaping of newspaper content. "Daily papers must dig deeper, clarify and enlighten the facts," he said. "New processes call for new reporting in depth, imagination and brilliance."(56)
The immediacy of television, and the promise of color television in years to come, had other effects on newspapers. They began to print more color as a way of competing with broadcasting. While the use of color in newspapers dated to the late nineteenth century, technical improvements after World War II had made color printing in newspapers far more practical. "Newspaper color has captured the imagination of both advertisers and newspapers," declared Robert U. Brown of Editor & Publisher magazine in 1958. Spurred by demands of national advertisers, by the late 1950s half of all newspapers in the United States were printing some spot color, and one-quarter were printing full color, with color most often used in advertising.(57) Forty to fifty newspapers were running news photographs in full color by 1958.(58)
Television also forced newspapers to deliver afternoon editions to readers' homes earlier in the day, before families began their evening television viewing. Delivery changes were necessary because reader surveys, such as those conducted by the American Press Institute, found that afternoon newspapers were especially hurt by the rise in television viewing. "So the big battle between television and the newspaper is for the reader's time," said API's Benjamin H. Reese in 1954. George Wise of the Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Telephone said he believed that many afternoon newspapers were losing that battle. "We have found that with television to turn to," Wise said in 1954, "people just don't spend as much time with their newspapers."(59) W.C. Todd of the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune surveyed forty newspapers in 1955 about the effects of television and found that many were changing their deadlines. "Many newspapers have moved up their press times and delivery schedules to allow for earlier delivery to the home," Todd said. "With television making its big play between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., it becomes a necessity to get the evening papers in the readers' hands as early as possible."(60)
In the middle and late 1950s, after a decade of watching television grow in influence and advertising, newspaper publishers and editors were much more wary of television. While confident of newspapers' continued dominance in advertising and news, editors were now taking television much more seriously as a competitor. Some print journalists resented broadcasting's rapid rise, and broadcasters resented criticism from newspapers. Variety rounded up broadcasters' complaints in a front-page article in 1955 headlined, "Do Newspapers Hate TV?" Television executives quoted in the magazine said newspapers needed to re-evaluate broadcasting and give it a "better shake" in the news columns. "Too many dailies," Variety argued, "are still being ostriches and refuse to face the fact that television today, both as entertainment and in the area of public enlightenment, has achieved a full-blown status."(61) In 1958, NBC president Robert W. Sarnoff decried newspapers' "print hostility" to television. He said newspapers tended to treat television harshly, both in news coverage and in criticism, because of television's increasing competition with the print medium.(62) Taking note of Sarnoff's criticism, Editor & Publisher editor Robert U. Brown declared in 1958 that the newspaper-television honeymoon was finally over.(63)
Increasing newspaper animosity toward television had been evident for some time. In the mid-1950s some newspapers had refused to print television programming logs unless television stations paid for them as advertising. Newspapers in Nashville, Tenn., Chico, Calif., and Oklahoma City were among those that discontinued free logs in 1953 and 1954. The trend was encouraged editorially by Editor & Publisher, which argued that newspapers should not give free publicity to a competitor.(64) A television industry survey in 1954 found that television stations had to buy the program logs in one-half of the communities surveyed.(65) But the practice faded by the late 1950s as television gained even wider audiences and as many editors came to believe that television, competitor or not, was important to readers. "About twenty years ago we took the same attitude toward radio and started to boycott it," recalled Sam Day of the New York Journal-American in 1954. "It got along very well without us."(66)
Publishers particularly worried about the growing loss of national advertising to television. Even though newspapers remained the leading advertising medium, their share of total advertising revenue continued to drop through the 1950s due to competition from television, radio, and other media. From 45.1 percent of total advertising revenues in 1935, newspapers had dropped to 31 percent of total advertising by 1962, with much of the difference due to national advertising lost to television.(67) While newspapers' local advertising revenues nearly doubled from 1950 to 1960, reaching $2.9 billion, national advertising revenues increased only by half, to $778 million.(68) National advertisers, such as the Detroit automakers, found it much more convenient to place advertisements on national radio and television networks rather than to "deal direct with a lot of pesky hometown newspapers," observed advertising executive Gene Alleman in 1957. Many newspapers lost some of their national automotive advertising beginning in 1956 when Detroit manufacturers began placing ads themselves rather than farming out national advertising budgets to local dealers.(69)
The decline in national advertising revenues particularly hurt very small publications. The experience of publisher O.G. McDavid was typical. McDavid bought a small weekly, the Wilk-Amite Record in Gloster, Miss., after World War II. "I paid for the newspaper in three years, and I thought that there was never any end to the money that was coming," McDavid recalled years later. But in the mid-1950s he lost the local auto dealer advertising to television and faced a new competitor when a radio station signed on in town. "I was having to work harder and harder to obtain the volume," McDavid said. He sold the paper and moved to Houston.(70)
Television's rapid rise in the 1950s was matched by continued rising costs in the newspaper business. "The newspaper industry is witnessing the serious results of the strangling effects of rising production and operating costs," warned an Editor & Publisher editorial in 1958. Rising costs had forced the closings of some papers and the merger of others.(71) Editor & Publisher's yearly summary of newspaper costs showed that increases in expenses had outpaced increases in revenue in all but two years, 1955 and 1959, in the fifteen years following World War II. Rising newsprint and labor costs explained the majority of cost increases, which steadily eroded newspapers' profit margins and made television seem all the more threatening.(72)
Newspapers responded to the changing advertising market in myriad ways. In 1956, the American Newspaper Publishers Association's Bureau of Advertising launched a campaign to woo back national advertisers lost to television.(73) Many newspapers increased their advertising and promotion budgets to sell themselves better to their communities and their advertisers. "Daily newspapers of the country today are spending more money on sales and promotion than in their entire history," declared C.B. Lafromboise, manager of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, in 1955.(74) The National Editorial Association, the trade association of more than 5,000 weekly and small daily newspapers, founded the Weekly Newspaper Representatives, an organization to solicit national advertising on behalf of member newspapers, as a way to regain national accounts lost to the competition.(75)
"Our road ahead won't be easy," said Richard Lloyd Jones, publisher of the Tulsa Tribune, in a 1954 speech that summarized newspapers' battle against television and rising costs. "It's going to take real planning, budgeting, and the best of judgment and initiative." Jones said television was a thorny problem for newspapers, a heavily unionized and static industry selling a product both expensive to produce and difficult to distribute. He noted that 500 employees, 18,000 tons of newsprint, and a fleet of delivery trucks were required to deliver the Tribune each day. "At the same time, in television, we see a literal newcomer deliver a picture with voice accompaniment to the same area, with thirty-three employees." Television and rising costs, Jones accurately predicted, would bedevil newspapers for years to come.(76)
1. Frank Tripp column, 12 September 1948, reprinted in Frank Tripp, On the Newspaper Front With Frank Tripp (Rochester, N.Y.: Gannett Newspapers, 1954), 55-56.
2. Richard W. Clarke, speech to the Silurian Society, November 1947, quoted in Shoeleather and Printer's Ink ed. George Britt (New York: Quadrangle, 1974), 326-327. The Silurian Society is an organization of journalists in New York City.
3. Paul W. White, "Spot News Is Better on Radio," Broadcasting-Telecasting, 9 February 1953, 84.
4. Sig Mickelson, "Growth of Television News, 1946-57," Journalism Quarterly 34 (Summer 1957): 304. Mickelson was vice president in charge of news and public affairs for CBS in the 1950s. The first nightly network television newscast was CBS' "Douglas Edwards With the News," inaugurated in 1948.
5. Jerry Walker, "Tele News Coverage Dull Without Editing," Editor & Publisher, 16 February 1946, 40. For background on the development of television news in the early postwar years, see Kristine Brunovska Karnick, "NBC and the Innovation of Television News, 1945-1953," Journalism History 26 (Spring 1988):26-34; Mickelson, "Growth of Television News," 304-310; Ted Nielsen, "A History of Network Television News," in American Broadcasting: A Source Book on the History of Radio and Television, ed. Lawrence W. Lichty and Malachi C. Topping (New York: Hastings House, 1975), 421-428; and Erik Barnouw, The Image Empire, vol. 3, A History of Broadcasting in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 40-46. While the early history of television has been well documented, few studies have explored newspapers' reactions to its new electronic competitor.
6. The First 50 Years of Broadcasting: The Running Story of the Fifth Estate, by the editors of Broadcasting magazine (Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, 1982), 88-89. The first convention covered by the networks had been the 1940 Republican convention, held in Philadelphia and broadcast in New York over a single 67-mile-long cable. The 1944 conventions were not televised due to wartime constraints. (Sidney Lohman, "Convention Coverage: Proceedings in Chicago Will Receive Most Extensive Distribution Ever," New York Times, 6 July 1952, Sec. 2, p. 9.)
7. John Crosby column, 23 June 1948, in John Crosby, Out of the Blue: A Book About Radio and Television (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), 240-242; Robert E. Kennedy quoted in Robert U. Brown, "Shop Talk at Thirty," Editor & Publisher, 24 July 1948, 72.
8. FCC statistics, quoted in Broadcasting Yearbook, 1966, A-158.
9. Broadcasting Yearbook, 1957-1958, 11; Broadcasting Yearbook, 1966, A-157.
10. FCC statistics, quoted in Broadcasting Yearbook, 1966, A-158; TV viewing statistics compiled by Telecasting magazine, quoted in Wilbur Schramm, ed., Mass Communications (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1960), 458.
11. McCann-Erickson statistics, quoted in J. Warren McClure, "To Them, All Business is Local," in Advertising Today Yesterday Tomorrow: An Omnibus of Advertising Prepared by Printer's Ink in its 75th Year of Publication (New York: McGraw Hill, 1963), 222.
12. McCann-Erickson statistics, quoted in Richard A.R. Pinkham, "The Glamour Medium -- and Some Men Who Made It," in ibid., 238.
13. American Newspaper Publishers Association statistics, Newspaper Association of America, Reston, Va. The number of daily newspapers fluctuated through the 1950s but was the same in 1960 as in 1946--1,763 newspapers.
14. McCann-Erickson statistics, quoted in Leo Bogart, The Age of Television (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958), 185.
15. Harold S. Barnes, "How TV Affects Newspapers," Editor & Publisher, 8 October 1949, 6. Newspaper companies continued to invest in television throughout the 1950s. By 1958, newspapers owned one-fourth of the commercial television stations then on the air. ("What's That You Say?" Editor & Publisher, 24 May 1958, 9.)
16. Quoted in Will Fowler, Reporters: Memoirs of a Young Newspaperman (Malibu, Calif.: Roundtable Publishing, 1991), 160-161.
17. Ibid., 163. Young Kathy died before she could be rescued.
18. Hooperatings cited in The First 50 Years of Broadcasting, 106.
19. Quoted in ibid., 106.
20. ASNE Proceedings, 1951, 164. See also "A Jury of 20,000,000 Persons," John Crosby column, 23 March 1951, in Crosby, Out of the Blue, 249-251.
21. Jack Gould, "The Crime Hearings: Television Provides Both a Lively Show and a Notable Public Service," New York Times, 18 March 1951, Sec. 2, p. 13. Of public fascination with the hearings, Gould wrote: "Housewives have left the housework undone and husbands have slipped away from their jobs to watch. The city has been under a hypnotic spell, absorbed, fascinated, angered and amused. It has been a rare community experience."
22. John W. Bloomer, "The Impact of TV on the Press and Public," talk before the Georgia Press Institute reprinted in Advancing Journalism, ed. John E. Drewry (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1953), 1-8.
23. "The MacArthur Show," Newsweek, 30 April 1951, 57; The First 50 Years of Broadcasting, 104.
24. Quoted in "Mac on TV," Time, 30 April 1951, 91.
26. ASNE Proceedings, 1951, 158-159.
27. Quoted in "TV Increases Demand for Press Coverage," Editor & Publisher, 12 December 1953, 49.
28. Quoted in "Proof," Time, 15 June 1953, 63. The exact effect of televised news events on newspaper street sales is, of course, difficult to determine--after all, big news usually increases circulation somewhat, even without television. But newspaper publishers were unanimous in crediting television for the phenomenon.
29. APME Red Book, 1951, 119.
30. Arthur Hays Sulzberger memo to Turner Catledge, 26 March 1951; Turner Catledge letter to E.C. Hoyt, 23 March 1951, in Turner Catledge papers, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Miss. Hereafter cited as Catledge papers.
31. Jack Gould, "What is Television Doing to Us?" New York Times Magazine, 12 June 1949, 7.
32. NBC study results, quoted in "What TV Is Doing to America," U.S. News & World Report, 2 September 1955, 39.
33. Bogart, The Age of Television, 154. A synopsis of 1950s research into television's effect upon newspapers, magazines, and books is Bogart's chapter "Television and Reading," pp. 132-162. See also Harvey J. Levin, "Competition Among Mass Media and the Public Interest," Public Opinion Quarterly 18 (Spring 1954): 62-79.
34. ASNE Proceedings, 1951, 146, 153.
35. "Television Convention," Newsweek, 14 July 1952, 84-85; "Radio-TV is Intent of the Convention," New York Times, 7 July 1952, 9. The 1948 Republican convention, by contrast, was so dominated by print reporters that Editor & Publisher dubbed it "a newspaperman's convention." It was, as it turned out, to be the last convention not dominated by the requirements of the television cameras. (Robert U. Brown, "GOP Sweats It Out With Good Old Press," Editor & Publisher, 26 June 1948, 11.)
36. Thomas Sancton, New Orleans Item, 20 July 1952, quoted in "Video Will Change Coverage of News," Nieman Reports, January 1953, 14-15.
37. Alistair Cooke in the Manchester Guardian, quoted in O.J. Bue, "The Editor Has a Look at His Hole Card," Quill, December 1952, 7.
38. Jack Gould, "Reporting by Video: Coverage of the Republican Convention Shows Advantages and Limitations," New York Times, 13 July 1952, Sec. 2, p. 9.
39. Sig Mickelson, "Two National Political Conventions Have Proved Television's News Role," Quill, December 1956, 15-16.
40. Quoted in "Press v. Picture," Time, 27 August 1956, 54.
41. Walter Trohan, Political Animals: Memoirs of a Sentimental Cynic (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1975), 399.
42. "Remarks to the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters," Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Public Papers of the Presidents, 1955 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1959), 527-531.
43. "White House TV," Editor & Publisher, 4 April 1953, 36.
44. James Hagerty quoted in "First Photographed Press Conference," Life, 31 January 1955, 22-23. Editor & Publisher grudgingly admitted afterward that the filming was worthwhile for newspapers because 90 percent of the president's remarks were authorized for broadcast or direct attribution after the filming. ("Press Gains From Filming of Ike's Parley," Editor & Publisher, 22 January 1955, 8.) Before the policy change, reporters could paraphrase the president's remarks but not quote him directly without permission, and relatively few direct quotations were allowed.
45. James Reston and William S. White quoted in Robert U. Brown and George A. Brandenburg, "Reporters at Convention Ask TV `Ground Rules,'" Editor & Publisher, 12 July 1952, 7, 69. See also T.S. Irvin, "TV Scoops Newspapers on Convention Boost," Editor & Publisher, 12 July 1952, 67; Burton W. Marvin, "What Will Television Do to Politics, Radio and Press--and to TV Itself," Quill, September 1952, 12-14; and Walter T. Ridder, "The Decline and Fall of the Press Conference," Quill, September 1952, 7, 14.
46. Quoted in "Television and Newsmen," Time, 2 November 1953, 49.
47. Quoted in "The News--and TV," Newsweek, 29 April 1957, 73; "Jab to the Nose," 6 May 1957, Time, 90-91.
48. Quoted in "Jab to the Nose," Time, 6 May 1957, 91.
49. Leo Fischer, "TV's Challenge to Sports Writer: Story Behind Victory," Quill, April 1951, 7; "What TV is Doing to America," U.S. News & World Report, 44.
50. Associated Press survey quoted in APME Red Book, 1955, 205.
51. Robert E. Garst memo to Turner Catledge, 19 June 1956, Catledge papers.
52. Turner Catledge to John Paul Jones, 19 June 1956, Catledge papers.
53. Harry C. Withers, "Slanting by Omission," Editor & Publisher, 26 June 1954, 81.
54. Herbert F. Corn, "Amateur Reporters," ibid. Corn's and Wither's remarks were part of an Editor & Publisher roundup of newspaper editors' reaction to the televising of the Army-McCarthy hearings.
55. Lester Markel, "Let Us Stick to News: TV Can't Compete," Editor & Publisher, 10 April 1954, 12. See also Lester Markel, "Yes, the Printed Word Has a Future Despite Television and Cinerama," Quill, May 1956, 20.
56. Quoted in William H. Taft, Missouri Newspapers (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 1964), 321.
57. Robert U. Brown, "Shop Talk at Thirty," Editor & Publisher, 13 September 1958, 120; George Pieper, "Newspaper Color for Millions," in Printing Progress: A Mid-Century Report (Cincinnati, Ohio: International Association of Printing House Craftsmen, Inc., 1959), 419-430.
58. Arville Schalenben, "In a World of Color Most Newspapers Persist with Drab Black and White," Quill, June 1958, 15; Robert B. McIntyre, "E&P Presents: ROP Color as a Newspaper Achievement," Editor & Publisher, 30 March 1957, 9.
59. Oral history interview with Benjamin H. Reese, Oral History Research Office, Columbia University, New York, New York; George Wise quoted in George A. Brandenburg, "Seltzer Hits `Flabby' Investigative Sinews," Editor & Publisher, 29 May 1954, 9. Reese was a longtime managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before joining API.
60. W.C. Todd, "Television: Do We Fight It or Capitalize on It?" Circulation Management, April 1955, 15-16.
61. Variety quoted in Robert U. Brown, "Shop Talk at Thirty," Editor & Publisher, 10 December 1955, 88.
62. Robert W. Sarnoff speech quoted in "Press-TV `Conflict' Linked to Ad Dollar," Editor & Publisher, 21 June 1958, 82.
63. Robert U. Brown, "Shop Talk at Thirty," Editor & Publisher, 19 July 1958, 64.
64. "The Press v. Broadcasters," Time, 8 February 1954, 49; "Radio-TV Logs," Editor & Publisher, 23 January 1954, 34.
65. National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters survey, cited in Sydney W. Head, Broadcasting in America, 2d. ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), 231.
66. APME Red Book, 1954, 62.
67. McCann-Erickson statistics, cited in Advertising Today Yesterday Tomorrow, 218.
68. McCann-Erickson statistics, quoted in The Mass Media: Aspen Institute Guide to Communication Industry Trends, eds. Christopher H. Sterling and Timothy R. Haight (New York: Praeger, 1978), 124-131.
69. Gene Alleman, "TV Raids on Hometown Ads Worry Publishers," National Publisher, June 1957, 2. National Publisher was the publication of the National Editorial Association.
70. Interview with O.G. McDavid, 1980, Mississippi Oral History Program, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss.
71. "Newspaper Economics," Editor & Publisher, 26 July 1958, 6.
72. Robert U. Brown, "Revenue Outpaces Expense," Editor & Publisher, 16 April 1960, 11. The rapid rise in the cost of doing business and its effect upon newspapers will be discussed in detail in Chapter 7 of this dissertation.
73. "Comparison of `Circulation,'" Editor & Publisher, 18 February 1956, 6.
74. National Publisher, October 1955, 15.
75. Alleman, "TV Raids on Hometown Ads Worry Publishers."
76. Richard Lloyd Jones, speech to National Editorial Association, reprinted in "The Road Ahead," National Publisher, April 1954, 23-24.