Death of the Daily News

The Daily News is a tabloid newspaper in New York City. The paper is famous for its large and prominent photographs, intense New York City news coverage, celebrity gossip, classified ads, comics, and a sports section. The paper also covers national and international news and politics, with the occasional satire piece or feature.

The first American newspaper printed in tabloid format, the Daily News was founded in 1919. It was once the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States and a symbol of New York City’s urban energy and civic activism. In the early years, it was a staunchly pro-Western and pro-business paper that supported isolationism during World War II but in recent decades has exhibited a more moderate to liberal editorial stance, often contrasted with the right-wing New York Post.

In 2017, the News was sold by Mortimer Zuckerman to Tribune Publishing, then known as Tronc, for just $1 (the price of a copy of the newspaper itself). On October 23, 2019, a day before the coronavirus pandemic began, Tronc announced that it was closing the paper’s physical newsroom in downtown Manhattan and would lay off most of its journalists.

It was a stunning blow to New York City’s journalism community and, at the same time, an object lesson in how not to manage a major daily newspaper.

Despite the loss of the physical newsroom, the Daily News remains a vibrant online publication, with large and prominent headlines and content, as well as an extensive social media presence. Its website features live streaming of events in the newsroom, interviews with top celebrities, a robust opinion page, and an array of New York City exclusives, from crime and traffic to politics and sports.

In an era of massive disruption to journalism, as the economics of print circulation continue to slide and the jobs of journalists disappear, many communities have been left with no traditional local news sources. This is especially true in places like McKeesport, a sprawling city in southwestern Pennsylvania that had its own daily newspaper until just last year.

In Death of the Daily News, Andrew Conte follows a handful of people attempting to make sense of their hometowns in the wake of the demise of the local newspaper. Their efforts are fascinating, moving, and in the end, hopeful. The book is a rich and important anatomy of what happens in a town when its newspaper dies, but it’s also a hopeful call to action for the future of local journalism. A dazzling achievement, this is a book that should be read and treasured by ordinary citizens as well as scholars. It is a book of our times.