Amid massive disruption in the industry, many local newspapers are closing, leaving vast areas with few traditional news sources. But in a Pennsylvania city with a long history of newspapering, residents are experimenting with new ways to make sense of their community and separate fact from gossip.
In its 20th-century heyday, the Daily News was a brawny metro tabloid that thrived when it dug into crime and corruption. It was a model for the tabloid depicted in the 1994 movie “The Paper,” and it has won Pulitzer Prizes for commentary and feature writing. But over the past two years, it has struggled under the ownership of Tribune Publishing, whose parent company was taken over by cost-slashing hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The News has cut its staff and focused on online and mobile content, while losing hundreds of thousands of readers in the process.
At the time of its purchase by Alden in 2017, Tribune Publishing had the second-largest circulation of any U.S. newspaper. It also had a network of local TV and radio stations, as well as the digital publication Tronc. But it was facing a steep decline in print and digital advertising sales, due in part to changes in consumer habits and a broader shift in how people get their news.
It was also struggling to compete with its even more sensational rival, the New York Post, which had long ranked as one of America’s top-selling newspapers. The News drew readership with its sensational coverage of crimes and scandals, lurid photographs, and entertainment features. It was the first successful tabloid newspaper in the United States, and its fame spread beyond the Big Apple, to the extent that it became known as “New York’s Picture Newspaper.”
For a long time, the News was based in the iconic building on East 42nd Street, designed by architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, an official city and national landmark. The newspaper moved to 450 West 33rd Street (known as Manhattan West) in 1995, and the former News subsidiary WPIX-TV remains there.
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