News American

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The News American was a Baltimore, Maryland daily newspaper whose lineage historians trace to Alexander Martin's American and Daily Advertiser (1799), but during its existence it often made institutional claims that it was a direct descendant of Maryland's first newspaper, William Goddard's Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser (1773). In addition, during the News American's long existence the newspaper and its predecessors experienced a number of consolidations as a result of business mergers resulting in new ownership and title changes. In the 20th century, one of the most influential owners in the history of the News American was William Randolph Hearst, Sr. During the majority of the years that Hearst owned the News American (1923-1986), the newspaper remained the largest newspaper in Baltimore based on circulation, but by the end of the 20th century, multiple challenges combined to undermine the economic sustainability of the News American . As a result on May 27, 1986 the newspaper was closed.

The News American was a Baltimore, Maryland daily newspaper that according to institutionalized folklore was published under a variety of titles for 214 years. The News American claimed to trace its lineage back to Baltimore's first newspaper, the Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser, begun by William Goddard on August 20, 1773. Under the leadership of William Goddard's sister, Mary Katherine Goddard, the newspaper became the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names of its signatories. In A. Rachel Minick's, A History of Printing in Maryland 1791-1800, which is the definitive academic study about the history of early Maryland printing, the author found that in the 1790's Goddard's newspaper passed through several proprietors and ultimately ceased publication on June 29, 1797. On May 14, 1799, Alexander Martin, a former partner of William Pechin, who once wrote for the old Maryland Journal, begun a new publication called the American and Daily Advertiser, which is likely the true originator of the News American newspaper. In 1814 a descendant of the American and Daily Advertiser, called the American & Commercial Advertiser, became the first publication in the nation to print Francis Scott Key's ''The Defence of Fort McHenry,'' which later became better known as The Star Spangled Banner .

During it's nearly 200 year existence the newspaper experienced a number of consolidations as a result of business mergers. Some notable newspaper titles in the history of the newspaper include the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser (1857-1861) which was sometimes published under the title of the Baltimore American, the American and Commercial Advertiser (January 1-August 1858) and the American and Commercial Advertiser (1862-1869). Under Fulton's leadership these newspaper titles were among the few major Baltimore newspapers to be pro-Union during the American Civil War. Other important nineteenth century predecessors to the News American newspapers were: Charles Carroll Fulton and General Felix Angus's Baltimore American (1883), Edmond V. Hermanage's Evening News (1872) which was Baltimore's first successful evening newspaper, and Charles Grasty's progressive Baltimore News (1892), where H. L. Mencken, the well known Sun journalist, briefly worked as an editor. The late nineteenth century, also began the rivalry between the News American and the Sun that would help to shape the history of Baltimore journalism into the 20th century. The Sun, while having a strong readership among the general masses also increasingly gained a reputation as the newspaper of choice for Baltimore's elites. In contrast, the News American, and its predecessors beginning with the Baltimore News, began to be viewed, first as a progressive newspaper, and later, as a populist paper, which resonated with Baltimore's working-class and ethnic minorities.

In 1908, Frank A. Munsey bought the evening Baltimore News from General Felix Angus, and in 1920 he purchased the morning Baltimore American . Three years later, Munsey decided to sell both papers to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Sr., Hearst, who helped to introduce to the News American's predecessors a tabloid journalism sensibility. The newspaper published many stories about crime and violence, as well as emphasizing visual elements such as photographs and large attention grabbing headlines. In 1928, the Baltimore American, a morning newspaper was discontinued, but the name was continued as a Sunday newspaper. Also, in 1928, the Baltimore News gained the circulation lead over the rival Sun papers, which it held until the American's decline beginning in the late 1970's. In 1934 the Hearst Corporation bought the Baltimore Post from the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Syndicate, to form the Baltimore News and the Baltimore Post and in 1936 the company merged the two titles to form the Baltimore News-Post . The last newspaper title change in the history of the News American occurred on January 13, 1964 when the Baltimore News-Post and its Sunday edition, the Baltimore American, merged to form the News American .

For most of the 1970's, the News American continued to lead the Sun in circulation. In addition, in 1973 the newspaper reached a major milestone and celebrated its bicentennial anniversary. But the 1970's, also signaled the beginning of the end for the News American . A number of social and economic factors, such as the rise of television, a demographic shift of Baltimoreans from the city to the suburbs, Baltimore's stagnant economy, and the loss of blue-collar manufacturing jobs contributed to the News American's demise. These issues, combined with the decline of evening newspapers in most U.S. markets, and internal management and labor related problems at the newspaper, effectively formed a barrier to the News American's long-term survival. During the 1980's, the difficulties facing the News American intensified and the Hearst Corporation, unable to find a buyer, decided to close the newspaper. On May 27, 1986, the News American published its last edition and shut its doors.

From the guide to the Baltimore News American Collection, 1773-2006, 1930-1973, (State of Maryland and Historical Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Baltimore News American collection, 1773-2006 (majority 1923-1986) University of Maryland (College Park, Md.). Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Baltimore American corporateBody
associatedWith Baltimore American and commercial advertiser (Baltimore, Md. : 1857) corporateBody
associatedWith Baltimore News-Post corporateBody
associatedWith Hariss, R. P. person
associatedWith Hearst, William Randolph, 1863-1951 person
associatedWith Hearst, William Randolph, 1908-1993 person
associatedWith Hearst, William Randolph, Mrs. person
associatedWith Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Munsey, Frank Andrew, 1854-1925 person
associatedWith Steadman, John person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Baltimore (Md.)--Newspapers

Corporate Body

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