The existence in the United States of an independent press, protected by law from government authority and responsible to the public can be traced back to the libel trial (1735) in the colony of New York of John Peter Zenger. A single number of a newssheet, Publick Occurrences, was issued in Boston in 1690 and was then suppressed by royal authority. John Campbell's Boston News-Letter endured from 1704 to 1776. James Franklin launched the New England Courant in 1721, and seven years later his younger brother, Benjamin Franklin, founded the Pennsylvania Gazette. Other colonial papers include the American Weekly Mercury (Philadelphia), the New York Gazette, and the Maryland Gazette.
The first American daily, the Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, appeared in Philadelphia in 1784. The Independent Journal (New York) carried the famous Federalist essays. Two rival political organs were Alexander Hamilton's Gazette of the United States and Thomas Jefferson's National Gazette, edited by Philip Freneau. The first New York daily newspaper was the Minerva (1793), edited by Noah Webster. Under other names it survived into the 20th cent.
Alexander Hamilton was among the founders (1801) of the New York Evening Post, for many years edited by William Cullen Bryant. As the New York Post, it is the oldest newspaper in the United States with a continuous daily publication. William Lloyd Garrison made the Liberator a powerful organ for the abolitionists. The New York Sun (1833) achieved national fame under Charles A. Dana. The New York Herald, launched (1835) by James Gordon Bennett, was famous for its foreign news coverage and later established a Paris edition.
Horace Greeley, one of the best-known figures in American journalism, was proprietor and editor of the New York Tribune from its inception in 1841 until 1872. The Tribune was influential in the Civil War period. The New York Times was founded (1851) by Henry J. Raymond, and under the supervision of Adolph S. Ochs it achieved worldwide coverage and circulation, which it has retained. The rotary press, a huge automated roll-fed printing press made high production rates possible to increase circulation. Newspaper circulation increased to keep up with growing population.
The New York World became enormously influential after its purchase by Joseph Pulitzer. When it issued the first colored supplement in the United States in 1893, the paper's critics dubbed it "yellow journalism." The term stuck and it came to represent a more sensational handling of the news, for which Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst are considered by many to be main instigators.
Other major U.S. newspapers include the New York Daily News, the Providence Journal, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, the Nashville Tennessean, the Kansas City Star, the Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor (Boston), the Dallas News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Denver Post, the Miami Herald and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
A number of American newspapers are published in languages other than English. An example of a foreign-language paper published in an urban area is El Diário in New York. Several other newspapers are oriented toward professional interests: Variety, for example, deals with show business. Although the Wall Street Journal is primarily concerned with commerce and finance, it now has the largest daily circulation of any U.S. newspaper.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.