Thursday, May 7, 2009

`Parade' Magazine's Newhouse Newspaper/Advance Publications Connection Historically

(The following article first appeared in the 11/18/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown)

In 1962, Oregon Senator Wayne Morse argued that “The American people need to be warned before it is too late about the threat which is arising as a result of the monopolistic practices of the Newhouse interests.” But, 30 years later, many U.S. newspapers were still owned by the Newhouse interests in the early 1990s.

One reason why neither Parade nor the Vogue/Conde’ Nast magazines nor the Newhouse Dynasty need to worry about being satirized too much in many U.S. daily newspapers is that many U.S. daily newspapers are owned by the Newhouse Dynasty’s Advance Publications holding company. In the early 1990s, the fourth-largest newspaper chain in the U.S. was owned by Newhouse. Over $1.7 billion per year was taken in by the Newhouse family company from its 26 newspapers during the early 1990s. And the daily circulation of Newhouse’s newspapers exceeded 3 million in the early 1990s. The following U.S. newspapers are still all owned by the same media conglomerate which owns Parade and the Vogue/Conde’ Nast magazines: Newark Star-Ledger; Jersey City Journal; Trenton Times; Staten Island Advance; Syracuse Post-Standard; Portland Oregonian; Harrisburg Patriot/Patriot-News; Cleveland Plain-Dealer; Birmingham News; Huntsville Times/Huntsville News; New Orleans Times-Picayune; Springfield Union News/Republican; Ann Arbor News; Flint Journal; Grand Rapids Press; Kalamazoo Gazette; Bay City Times; Saginaw News; Jackson Citizen-Patriot; Muskegon Chronicle; and the Mississippi Press-Register.

During the 1950s, Newhouse’s Newark Star-Ledger (whose circulation exceeded 400,000 in the early 1990s) apparently agreed “to be used as a conduit for charges [Joe] McCarthy himself didn’t dare make public,” and “when certain of its syndicated columnists, Drew Pearson among them, began to attack McCarthy, the Ledger refused to print the revelations,” according to Newspaperman: S.I. Newhouse And The Business Of News by Richard Meeker.

Coincidentally, when a book critical of the Newhouse media conglomerate’s seemingly monopolistic practices, Newhouse, Newspapers, Nuisances: Highlights In The Growth Of A Communications Empire by John Lent, was published in the early 1960s, none of the newspapers which were part of the Newhouse newspaper chain printed a review of the book.

Newhouse newspapers are not particularly known for being examples of quality journalism. Indeed, in 1964, Newspaper Guild Vice-President William Farson made in reference to Samuel Newhouse I the following comment:

“More people jump on Newhouse than other monopolists because he has a history of putting out poor newspapers. He wants no competition because if he had to compete, he couldn’t afford to put out a poor paper, and in the process he wouldn’t make as much money.”

When More magazine—a magazine not owned by the Newhouse Dynasty—“compiled a list of the 10 worst big-circulation daily newspapers in America” in the 1970s “three of Newhouse’s newspapers were on it,” according to the Newspaperman book.

(Downtown 11/18/92)