The New York Daily News is a popular daily and Sunday newspaper based in New York City. Its motto, "New York's Hometown Newspaper" sheds light onto both the focus and the style of the News. Seeking to sell itself to the stereotypical working-class New Yorker, the News focuses on issues concerning the New York metro area with liberal amounts of national events and sensationalist news mixed in. Also in accordance with this marketing strategy, the paper is written at a fifth grade reading level, the level of sophistication the so-called "average" adult can easily read.
The News bucks the trend in traditional newspaper format by using a "tabloid" design. (In this case, "tabloid" does not refer to publications of dubious reliability such as The National Enquirer but rather to the newspaper's format.) The layout is actually rather like a book; instead of folding the paper horizontally, it can be read from left to right with all of the pages folded against themselves. While this makes for easier handling and page turning (no "flip flopping" of the page to read from the top of an article to the bottom), the arrangement does entail a major drawback: the utter impossibility to find any specific portion of the paper. Because everything comes in one package, it is impossible to separate the sports section, for example, from the news section. In addition, finding a single page buried within 100 is like searching for a needle in a haystack and requires the frantic flipping of dozens of pages.
The book-like format of the Daily News also entails a radically different cover than what most people are used to. Like The New York Post, a brother tabloid-style paper, the News's front-page conveys much less information than The New York Times, for example. It consists of one photograph taking up most of the space with the day's major headline inscribed over the picture. On the top are two small boxes that give the headlines of other important stories that day. In another novel idea, the News also has a back cover. The back, a fraternal twin of the front, focuses on sports headlines of the day. From there, the sports section can be read like a Hebrew book, from right to left.
A "Blue-Collar" Paper
The News's marketing and placement strategy naturally follows its slogan. Instead of focusing on the intellectual elite that most major papers such as The Wall Street Journal cater to, the News seeks to fill the gap created to them by writing for the "average" working-class New Yorker. Pursuant to this, the News focuses on events that supposedly appeal to the "average" person. Headlines are incredibly relaxed, with the paper frequently abbreviating names. For example, George W. Bush is "W" and Donald Rumsfeld is reduced to "Rummy." The writing style is relaxed, and the News is not big on titular use; Saddam Hussein is "Saddam," not "Mr. Hussein." Esoteric word choices are also shunned; the News is written for the "average" person and therefore contains no linguistic innovations. (This simple style also makes for fast reading, and it's possible to finish the paper in under an hour.)
The types of stories the News runs also fit its target audience. Most articles have to do with New-York-related occurrences, such as the New York City fiscal crisis. In an attempt to entertain, the News also publishes many sensationalist articles. For example, several months ago a debacle over "voodoo dust" being used by a City Board of Education member received a significant amount of attention. Additionally, articles in the sports section are designed for the target audience by focusing mainly on New York sports teams. The section comprises roughly half of the paper, further illuminating the News's belief that the "average" blue-collar worker is a sports junkie.
A History of the News
(Note: The information gathered for this section comes almost exclusively from an e-mail sent to me from Scott Browne of the News. I would like to thank Mr. Browne and The New York Daily News for providing this extensive amount of research free of charge to me for use in this write-up.)
The News was founded in 1919 by Capt. Joseph M. Patterson and Col. Robert McCormick, both members of the family that owned The Chicago Tribune. The two cousins founded what was then called The Illustrated Daily News to fulfill a dream held by Mr. Patterson to establish a paper in New York. The tabloid design also came from Mr. Patterson, who was influenced by the many English papers that used the form at the time. From this launching point, the News embarked on a near-decade-long journey that led through bankruptcy, changes in ownership, and several Pulitzers. A brief history of the News follows:
- June 26, 1919: The News's first issue was printed. The paper began its life by renting space in The New York Evening Mail Building and used its facilities to print its first editions.
- September 1920: The News first became profitable.
- November 20, 1920: The paper changed its name to The New York Daily News after buying the name from an existing paper based in Harlem.
- April 16, 1921: The News moved into a new building on Park Place
- May 1, 1921: The News printed its first Sunday edition, which was known as The Sunday News until the 1970's.
- March 11, 1923: The News added color comics to the Sunday edition.
- July 18, 1924: The News printed its afternoon edition. It was printed on pink paper and was therefore known as the "Pink Edition." It lasted until 1955.
- April 1926: The News's circulation topped one million.
- October 10, 1926: The News added a newsmagazine to its Sunday paper.
- January 1927: The paper opened a plant in Brooklyn.
- February 22, 1930: The News moved to its new home on East 42nd St.
- 1941: Reuben Maury won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorials at the News.
- May 27, 1946: Mr. Patterson died. The News is managed by a joint News-Tribune committee for the next several years.
- 1956: 26 staff photographers won the Pulitzer Prize for general photographic excellence.
- 1959: Joe Martin and Phil Santora won the Pulitzer for a series of articles appearing in the News about the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
- 1974: William Sherman won the Pulitzer for exposing multi-million-dollar abuses in the City Medicaid program.
- April 1986: Jimmy Breslin won the Pulitzer Prize for his columns.
- March 21, 1991: Robert Maxwell and his Mirror Group Newspapers buy the News, thereby ending a yearlong strike against the paper.
- November 5, 1991: Mr. Maxwell died while in the Canary Islands. His media empire, which now included the News, died with him.
- December 5, 1991: The News filed for bankruptcy protection to shield its assets from Mr. Maxwell's creditors.
- January 7, 1993: Mortimer Zuckerman and partner Fred Drasner purchased the News and brought it out of bankruptcy.
- May 1995: The Daily News's editorial and business offices relocated to Manhattan's West Side.
- 1996: Columnist E.R. Shipp won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
- 1998: Mike McAlary won the Pulitzer for exposing the police brutality scandal involving Abner Louima.
- 1999: The News's Editorial Board won a Pulitzer for a series of editorials about the neglect of Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.