Thursday, July 18, 2024

A HISTORY OF HOUSTON’S MOST FAMOUS AND RIVAL NEWSPAPERS: WHICH ONE TURNED OUT TO BE THE BEST?

Starting from the 19th century, Houstonians learned about all the current and everyday news from publications, such as local newspapers. For two whole centuries, people actively bought newspapers, signed up for annual subscriptions with home delivery and waited for the release of a new issue to be the first to read interesting news and stay informed about all events. With the advent of the internet and devices, we can find any information, including news, on various platforms without leaving home. Read more at houston-future.

Thanks to newspapers, people could read news and articles when there were no other means to do so. Even though people stopped buying newspapers as often, it doesn’t mean that printed publications have lost their value and significance. After all, they are the real “oldies” in the world of printed media in every city.

During the period of popularization of printed publications in Houston, there were two leading newspapers that competed with each other: the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post.

What did this competition lead to? Which newspaper became first in the Houston market? Are they still in print? 

The Houston Post

This newspaper began its history on February 19, 1880. It was founded by Gail Borden Johnson. He managed to expand the newspaper and release two editions per day: morning and evening.

Four years after its inception in 1884, the newspaper went through difficult times. It was almost closed, but investors saved it. However, this setback affected the work of the newspaper, reducing the number of editions from two to one per day.

The Houston Post mainly covered daily local news. Its building was very beautiful: concrete walls were designed like wood, impressive floors and numerous decorations and elements of contemporary art (at that time). Tours through the editorial office were even offered for Houston residents.

The newspaper quickly became very popular in the city. At the beginning of its operation, the circulation was about 6000 copies, and by the early 1900s, it had reached around 14,000. Initially, the newspaper consisted of a few pages, then eight, and by 1903, it had grown to twelve.

The newspaper existed until 1995. On April 18, it was acquired by its main competitors. Some issues of the newspaper were initially kept in the archive of the new newspaper that bought the Houston Post, but later they were removed. Nowadays, they can be found in the form of microfilm at the Houston Public Library.

The Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle is considered the largest newspaper in Houston and the third largest in the United States after The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. This newspaper (like the former Houston Post) is owned by the well-known mass media, Hearst Corporation.

The Houston Chronicle was founded by Marcellus Foster, who had previously worked as a reporter for a rival newspaper in 1901. The newspaper first came out on October 14. To attract as many readers as possible, it was sold for only 2 cents, while other newspapers cost 5 cents.

The publication quickly gained popularity among local residents. In the first month, its circulation was almost 4,500. Within a few years, it reached 7,000, and by 1926, it was over 75,000 copies (with even higher numbers for Saturday and Sunday editions). Foster remained on the editorial board until his retirement, publishing under the pseudonym “Mefo.”

In 1908, Foster approached a well-known Houston businessman and builder with a request to construct a new building and office for the paper, as well as to acquire half of the shares in it. Jesse H. Jones (the name of the builder) agreed to the proposal.

Years later, Foster was on the verge of bankruptcy and owed a large sum of money. Jones offered him help under one condition: he gives Foster $300,000 (of which $200,000 Foster owed), and in return, the latter transfers the businessman all the shares in the newspaper. Additionally, Foster was guaranteed a job and the right to write the first column under his pseudonym. The men came to an agreement, and Jones became the main head of the Houston Chronicle.

Today, 2,000 employees work in the newspaper, including journalists, editors and photographers. The Chronicle website is also very popular, with over 120 million views per month.

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