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If the number of newspapers published in a city is indicative of how much news there is in the area, then Washington, DC should have half a dozen daily papers. Instead it only has two, the Washington Post and the Washington Times. The Post is internationally known and is generally considered to be somewhat liberal, while the Times is somewhat conservative. But Washington did have another paper for many years - the Washington Star.

First published in December 1852, the Star was originally known as the Daily Evening Star. Its creator was Joseph Barrow Tate, a local printer who produced the four-page publication on his own equipment; he quickly lost interest in producing the paper and sold it to entrepreneurs William H. Hope and William Douglass Wallach. In 1854, the paper's name changed to simply the Evening Star.

In its earliest years, the paper was a conservative powerhouse. During the Civil War, as abolitionists decried slavery in their own publications, the Evening Star endorsed it. Its reporting of the war itself only increased its popularity; even today many Civil War historians refer to Evening Star articles.

In 1867, the paper was sold for $100,000 to Crosby Stuart Noyes and Samuel H. Kauffmann, who would own the paper for the next four generations. Noyes served as the paper's editor-in-chief, and in his spare time he enjoyed collecting Japanese artwork. His Ukiyo-e collection is the largest donation of its kind given to the Library of Congress, and he is remembered today for that gift more than for his ownership of the paper.

Ten years after its sale to Noyes and Kauffmann, the Evening Star saw its first competition when the Washington Post was founded by Stilson Hutchins. Both the Post and the Star had headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, but the Post was a morning paper while the Star was published in the afternoon. Renowned political cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman worked for the Post from 1891 to 1907; it was there that he created the drawing that brought the phrase "teddy bear" into the American lexicon. In 1907, though, Berryman made the switch to the Star, and he continued working there until his death in 1949.

In the late 1930's, the families operating the Evening Star elected to purchase a radio station. WMAL, operated by the M.A. Leese Radio Corporation, had ended its NBC lease in 1937; Samuel H. Kauffmann took advantage of the opportunity to purchase the station, which had been operating since 1925. Kauffmann did not have an interest in changing the station's staff - Norman Leese was still president - but the company's name changed to the Evening Star Broadcasting Company in 1939. WMAL was once again leased to NBC, but the lease ended in 1942. In 1947, after the end of World War II, the Evening Star expanded once again, this time into television. WMAL-TV broadcast from the second floor of a former ice skating rink (which it had renamed the Evening Star Television Center), and for several years the radio station broadcast from the same location, but it moved back to its original home when the television station underwent expansion in 1959.

Although the Evening Star had achieved a new record for circulation in the 1950's, that was also the beginning of its demise - indeed, many newspapers folded in the next few decades. But the Star's main problem was its own staff. Members of the Kauffmann family held nearly all of the top jobs at the paper, and the paper's general manager was perceived as anti-Semitic, which led to the loss of advertising revenue. At the same time, the Post had acquired the Times-Herald, another local paper, and by the 1960's the Post had become the dominant newspaper in the nation's capital. The Star merged with the Washington Daily News in 1972, and its name became the Washington Star-News in July 1973.

The Star's downward spiral grew worse in the 1970's. In 1973 it became entangled in an international scandal when South Africa's chief of police, General H.J. van den Bergh, attempted to use government funds to purchase the Star and other newspapers in order to use them as outlets of favorable publicity for the country, which was still under apartheid at the time. Despite this, the paper occasionally used the services of guest editor Tselito Percy Peter Qoboza, a black South African journalist.

In 1975, the paper was sold to Joseph Allbritton for $28.5 million and acquired its final name, the Washington Star. Under FCC rules, he was forced to sell the radio and television assets of the company; this was accomplished in 1977. Allbritton was a tough competitor, and when the printers of the Post went on strike in October 1975 he refused to allow that paper to be printed on the Star's presses, which in all fairness would have resulted in a strike at the Star as well. Even though Allbritton had bought the company with the intent of saving it from destruction, he clashed with staff members and lost his top editor to a Los Angeles publication. With the popularity of television drawing away audiences for the newspaper, Allbritton was unable to make the company successful again.

In 1978, the Star was sold to the publishers of Time magazine, archrival to the Post-owned magazine Newsweek. Changing hands did not bring about many changes in management, though, and the Star was forced to consider closing even though Time Inc. had just spent $85 million on revitalizing the paper. In its last days, the Star received several purchase offers - Chris-Craft Industries of New York considered buying the paper, as did the owner of Atlantic Monthly magazine. But the offers must not have been good enough for Time, and the Star ceased publication on August 7th, 1981. Its conservative voice was replaced less than a year later by the Washington Times, owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification church. The Star itself, meanwhile, was sold to longtime rival The Washington Post Company.

During its 128-year lifespan, the Star earned a number of awards. In 1897, it became the first paper to have a correspondent assigned full-time to the White House. It won numerous Pulitzer Prizes over the years, including a 1944 win by cartoonist Clifford Berryman and a 1975 win by columnist Mary McGrory. The Star nurtured several other talents, including Maureen Dowd (now of the New York Times), Michael Isikoff (who now works for Newsweek), and Howard Kurtz (still at the Washington Post).

The archives of the Washington Star were donated by The Washington Post Company to the Washingtoniana section of the D.C. Public Library. Numerous photographs, clippings, full editions, memorabilia, and much more can be visited at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library located near Chinatown and the former Convention Center site. All material from the Star is still under copyright, which is now held by the Post. In 2002, the Post Company entered into a contract with Cold North Wind Media to begin digitizing the entire Washington Star collection.

Additional resources
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/washingtondc/?offset=105&s=oldest
http://www.wmal.com/listingsEntry.asp?ID=320395&PT=630%20WMAL%20History

written for nonficwrimo 06

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