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Prompted By Newspapers

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When I was a girl growing up in the Bronx dozens of daily and weekly newspapers were being published in New York City.  My parents read the Times,  the Herald Tribune.  and the New York Post which was delivered to our house every afternoon.

The Post was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton as a broadsheet then called the New York Evening Post,  and is now the oldest daily newspaper in the country still in operation.   During the 19th century it was famously edited by the poet and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant,  and over the decades many other editors put their stamp on it.

During the 1920s the Post hired it’s first female reporter Clara Savage Littledale,   and also hired as drama editor Wielella Wardorf,  and thus the first woman to hold an editorial position.

In the 1930s the paper’s name was changed to the New York Post,  and in 1939 Dorothy Schiff,  an avowed liberal became editor,  and under her leadership the paper supported liberal causes,  trade unions and social welfare.   In the early 1950s during the Joseph McCarthy hearings the Post harshly attacked the Wisconsin senator.

During those years many illustrious figures wrote for the paper including Drew Pearson,  Eleanor Roosevelt,  Pete Hamill,  Eric Sevareid,  and the journalist and educator Max Lerner who used his column to espouse his liberal political and economic stance.  (Later in the 1960s Lerner taught my husband’s American Civilization college class at Brandeis.)

But the Post columnist I remember best was the Black writer and poet Langston Hughes whose wonderful Simple Stories first appeared in the paper and were later anthologized.

Then by the 1970s the Post was the only surviving afternoon daily in New York,  and with rising operation costs,  and mounting competition from radio and TV news,  it was losing money.    In 1976,  Schiff sold the paper to the wealthy Australian media tycoon Rubert Murdock.

Now a right-wing tabloid,  and supposedly Donald Trump’s favorite newspaper,  the Post would be unrecognizable by my folks if they saw it today.   And indeed it was a very different newspaper I remember my father reading as he sat in the big green club chair in our living room.

With his feet up on the ottoman and me on his lap,  we’d put our heads together over the sports page as we checked the baseball box score.

Dana S. Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
www.WorldThruBrownEyes.com

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Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Fascinating history of the NY Post, Dana. Founded by Alexander Hamilton, Max Lerner was still at Brandeis when I was there (though I didn’t take a course with him. You are right, I never dreamed that they would be the first to publish Langston Hughes!

    It is such a terrible rag now. Though for different reasons, a cartoon of Lady Liberty, with her hands over her face, weeping, comes to mind right now.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    I had no idea about the august history of the Post—very impressive, and thanks for the lovely requiem. What a travesty that Murdock ruined it. One more thing to add to the growing list of things I’m glad my parents didn’t live to see.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    So sad that Murdoch bought and ruined the Post. I never knew about its amazing history, only its current reputation. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  4. Marian says:

    Loved this enlightening history lesson, Dana. Living in New Jersey, we only got the New York Times, so it was fun to learn about the Post.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Thanks for the great memories of the Post, Dana!

    Although I’ve always read the Times for real news, the Post was my “guilty pleasure” for a good number of years when I was a junior lawyer. (In fact, I should have thought of this for our upcoming prompt.) After lunch, if I had the time, I would buy a copy of the Post in the newsstand in our office building, retire to my office and shut the door, and quickly devour it before returning to the slog that was a lot of a junior lawyer’s job at a big law firm.

    Of course, mainly I just read Page Six — which, as you know, was never printed on the actual page 6 — for its juicy gossip. The kind of stuff the Times would never deign to run.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    I never realized that The Post’s swing into right-wing cra-cra was so relatively recent. As a kid I didn’t even know of its existence.

  7. Suzy says:

    Dana, I do remember the Post, and though I never read it, I knew it was a credible newspaper back in the day, not like the Daily News. Thanks for the whole history, and how sad to learn that Rupert Murdoch ruined it. Love the picture you paint of you and your father, heads together, checking the box score.

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