Hearst Communications

Hearst Communications, often referred to simply as Hearst, is an American mass media and business information conglomerate based in New York City.[3]

Hearst Communications Inc.
IndustryMass media
FoundedMarch 4, 1887 (1887-03-04)
San Francisco, California, United States
FounderWilliam Randolph Hearst
HeadquartersHearst Tower, ,
United States
Key people
RevenueUS$10.8 billion (2016)
OwnerHearst family
Number of employees
20,000 (2016)
Footnotes / references

Hearst owns newspapers, magazines, television channels, and television stations, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan and Esquire. It owns 50% of the A&E Networks cable network group and 20% of the sports cable network group ESPN, both in partnership with The Walt Disney Company.[4]

While Hearst is perhaps better known for the above media holdings, the company also has significant businesses in the business information section, where it owns companies including Fitch Ratings, First Databank, and others.[5]

Hearst Communications is based in the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The company was founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, and the Hearst family remains involved in its ownership and management.


The formative years

In 1880, George Hearst, mining entrepreneur and U.S. senator, entered the publishing business by acquiring the San Francisco Daily Examiner.[6] In 1887, he turned the Examiner over to his son, William Randolph Hearst, who that year officially founded the Hearst Corp. W. R. Hearst later went on to purchase or launch several more newspapers in multiple cities (including the New York Journal in 1895)[7] and to found the Los Angeles Examiner in 1903.[6] W. R. Hearst found early success, growing readership for the Examiner from 15,000 in 1887 to over 20 million.[8]

Hearst's magazine division began in 1903, with W. R. Hearst's creation of Motor magazine. He later acquired several other publications, including Cosmopolitan in 1905, and Good Housekeeping in 1911.[9][10] W. R. Hearst entered the book publishing business in 1913 with the formation of Hearst's International Library.[11] W. R. Hearst began producing film features in the mid-1910s, creating one of the earliest animation studios: the International Film Service, turning characters from Hearst newspaper strips into film characters.[12] After purchasing the Atlanta Georgian in 1912,[13] the San Francisco Call and the San Francisco Post in 1913, Hearst acquired the Boston Advertiser and the Washington Times (unrelated to the present-day paper) in 1917. He later purchased the Chicago Herald in 1918 (resulting in the Herald-Examiner).[14] In 1919, Hearst's book publishing division was renamed Cosmopolitan Book.[11]

The peak era

In the 1920s and 1930s, Hearst owned the biggest media conglomerate in the world, which included a number of magazines and newspapers in major cities. Hearst also began acquiring radio stations to complement his papers.[15] Hearst saw financial challenges in the early 1920s, during which time he was subsidizing funds from his corporation to fund the construction of Hearst Castle in San Simeon and movie production at Cosmopolitan Productions. This eventually lead to the merger of the magazine Hearst International with Cosmopolitan in 1925.[16]

Despite some financial troubles, Hearst began extending its reach in 1921, purchasing the Detroit Times, The Boston Record and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.[17] Hearst then added the Los Angeles Herald and Washington Herald, as well as the Oakland Post-Enquirer, the Syracuse Telegram and the Rochester Journal-American in 1922. He continued his buying spree into the mid-1920s, purchasing the Baltimore News (1923), the San Antonio Light (1924), the Albany Times Union (1924),[17] and The Milwaukee Sentinel (1924). In 1924, Hearst entered the tabloid market in New York City with The New York Mirror, meant to compete with the New York Daily News.[18]

In addition to print and radio, Hearst established Cosmopolitan Pictures in the early 1920s, distributing his films under the newly created Metro Goldwyn Mayer.[19] In 1929, Hearst and MGM created the Hearst Metrotone newsreels.[20]

Retrenching after the Great Depression

The Great Depression had a negative impact on Hearst and his publications. Cosmopolitan Book was sold to Farrar & Rinehart in 1931.[11] After two years of leasing them to her, Hearst had to sell the Washington Times and Herald to Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson (of the McCormick-Patterson family that owned the Chicago Tribune) in 1939 who merged them to form the Washington Times-Herald. That year he also bought the Milwaukee Sentinel from Paul Block (who bought it from the Pfisters in 1929), absorbing his afternoon Wisconsin News into the morning publication. Also in 1939, he sold the Atlanta Georgian to Cox Newspapers, which merged it with the Atlanta Journal.

Hearst, with his chain now owned by his creditors after a 1937 liquidation[21], also had to merge some of his morning papers into his afternoon papers. In Chicago, he combined the morning Herald-Examiner and the afternoon American into the Herald-American in 1939. This followed the 1937 combination of the New York Evening Journal and the morning American into the New York Journal-American, the sale of the Omaha Daily Bee to the World-Herald. Abandoning the morning market was harmful in the long run for Hearst's media holdings as most of his remaining newspapers became afternoon papers. Newspapers in Rochester, Syracuse and Fort Worth were sold or closed.

Afternoon papers were a profitable business in pre-television days, often outselling their morning counterparts featuring stock market information in early editions, while later editions were heavy on sporting news with results of baseball games and horse races. Afternoon papers also benefited from continuous reports from the battlefront during World War II. After the war, however, both television news and suburbs experienced an explosive growth; thus, evening papers were more affected than those published in the morning, whose circulation remained stable while their afternoon counterparts' sales plummeted. Another major blow was the fact that beginning in the 1950s, football and baseball games were being played later in the afternoon to fit television schedules and now stretched through early in the evening, preventing afternoon papers from publishing all the results.

In 1947, Hearst produced an early television newscast for the DuMont Television Network: I.N.S. Telenews, and in 1948 he became the owner of one of the first television stations in the country, WBAL-TV in Baltimore.

The earnings of Hearst's three morning papers, the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Angeles Examiner, and The Milwaukee Sentinel, supported the company's money-losing afternoon publications such as the Los Angeles Herald-Express, the New York Journal-American, and the Chicago American. The company sold the latter paper in 1956 to the Chicago Tribune's owners, who changed it to the tabloid-size Chicago Today in 1969 and ceased publication in 1974). In 1960, Hearst also sold the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Detroit Times to The Detroit News. After a lengthy strike it sold the Milwaukee Sentinel to the afternoon Milwaukee Journal in 1962. The same year Hearst's Los Angeles papers – the morning Examiner and the afternoon Herald-Express – merged to become the evening Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. The 1962-63 New York City newspaper strike left the city with no papers for over three months, with the Journal-American one of the earliest strike targets of the Typographical Union. The Boston Record and the Evening American merged in 1961 as the Record-American and in 1964, the Baltimore News-Post became the Baltimore News-American.

In 1953 Hearst Magazines bought Sports Afield magazine, which it published until 1999 when it sold the journal to Robert E. Petersen. In 1958, Hearst's International News Service merged with E.W. Scripps' United Press, forming United Press International as a response to the growth of the Associated Press and Reuters. The following year Scripps-Howard's San Francisco News merged with Hearst's afternoon San Francisco Call-Bulletin. Also in 1959, Hearst acquired the paperback book publisher Avon Books.[22]

In 1965, the Hearst Corporation began pursuing Joint Operating Agreements (JOA's). It reached the first agreement with the DeYoung family, proprietors of the afternoon San Francisco Chronicle, which began to produce a joint Sunday edition with the Examiner. In turn, the Examiner became an evening publication, absorbing the News-Call-Bulletin. The following year, the Journal-American reached another JOA with another two landmark New York City papers: the New York Herald Tribune and Scripps-Howard's World-Telegram and Sun to form the New York World Journal Tribune (recalling the names of the city's mid-market dailies), which collapsed after only a few months.

The 1962 merger of the Herald-Express and Examiner in Los Angeles led to the termination of many journalists who began to stage a 10-year strike in 1967. The effects of the strike accelerated the pace of the company's demise, with the Herald Examiner ceasing publication November 2, 1989.[23]

Newspaper shifts

Hearst moved into hardcover publishing by acquiring Arbor House in 1978 and William Morrow and Company in 1981.[24][25]

In 1982, the company sold the Boston Herald American —the result of the 1972 merger of Hearst's Record-American & Advertiser with the Herald-Traveler — to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation,[26] which renamed the paper as The Boston Herald,[27] competing to this day with the Boston Globe.

In 1986, Hearst bought the Houston Chronicle and that same year closed the 213-year-old Baltimore News-American after a failed attempt to reach a JOA with A.S. Abell Company, the family who published The Baltimore Sun since its founding in 1837. Abell sold the paper several days later to the Times-Mirror syndicate of the Chandlers' Los Angeles Times, also competitor to the evening Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, which folded in 1989.

In 1993, Hearst closed the San Antonio Light after it purchased the rival San Antonio Express-News from Murdoch.

On November 8, 1990, Hearst Corporation acquired the remaining 20% stake of ESPN, Inc. from RJR Nabisco for a price estimated between $165 million and $175 million.[28] The other 80% has been owned by The Walt Disney Company since 1996. Over the last 25 years, the ESPN investment is said to have accounted for at least 50% of total Hearst Corp profits and is worth at least $13 billion.[29]

In 1999, Hearst sold its Avon and Morrow book publishing activities to HarperCollins.[30]

In 2000, the Hearst Corp. pulled another "switcheroo" by selling its flagship and "Monarch of the Dailies", the afternoon San Francisco Examiner, and acquiring the long-time competing, but now larger morning paper, San Francisco Chronicle from the Charles de Young family. The San Francisco Examiner is now published as a daily freesheet.

In December 2003, Marvel Entertainment acquired Cover Concepts from Hearst, to extend Marvel's demographic reach among public school children.[31]

In 2009, A&E Networks acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services, with Hearst ownership increasing to 42%.[32][33]

In 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer switched to a digital-only format, leaving the Albany Times-Union as the only remaining Hearst paper from the interwar period still owned by the company. In 2010, Hearst acquired digital marketing agency iCrossing.[34]

In 2011, Hearst absorbed more than 100 magazine titles from the Lagardere group for more than $700 million and became a challenger of Time Inc ahead of Condé Nast. In December 2012, Hearst Corporation partnered again with NBCUniversal to launch Esquire Network.

On February 20, 2014, Hearst Magazines International appointed Gary Ellis to the new position, Chief Digital Officer.[35] That December, DreamWorks Animation sold a 25% stake in AwesomenessTV for $81.25 million to Hearst.[36]

In January 2017, Hearst announced that it had acquired a majority stake in Litton Entertainment. Its CEO, Dave Morgan, was a former employee of Hearst.[37][38]

On January 23, 2017, Hearst announced that it had acquired the business operations of The Pioneer Group from fourth-generation family owners Jack and John Batdorff. The Pioneer Group was a Michigan-based communications network that circulates print and digital news to local communities across the state. In addition to daily newspapers, The Pioneer and Manistee News Advocate, Pioneer published three weekly papers and four local shopper publications, and operated a digital marketing services business.[39] The acquisition brought Hearst Newspapers to publishing 19 daily and 61 weekly papers.

Other 2017 acquisitions include the New Haven Register and associated papers from Digital First Media,[40][41] and the Alton, Illinois, Telegraph and Jacksonville, Illinois, Journal-Courier from Civitas Media.[42][43]

In October 2017, Hearst announced it would acquire the magazine and book businesses of Rodale, with some sources reporting the purchase price as about $225 million. The transaction was expected to close in January following government approvals.[44][45]

Chief executive officers

  • In 1880, George Hearst entered the newspaper business, acquiring the San Francisco Daily Examiner.
  • On March 4, 1887, he turned the Examiner over to his son, 23-year-old William Randolph Hearst, who was named editor and publisher. William Hearst died in 1951, at age 88.
  • In 1951, Richard E. Berlin, who had served as president of the company since 1943, succeeded William Hearst as chief executive officer. Berlin retired in 1973.[46] William Randolph Hearst Jr. claimed in 1991 that Berlin had suffered from Alzheimer's disease starting in the mid-1960s and that caused him to shut down several Hearst newspapers without just cause.[47]
  • From 1973 to 1975, Frank Massi, a longtime Hearst financial officer, served as president, during which time he carried out a financial reorganization followed by an expansion program in the late 1970s.[48]
  • From 1975 to 1979, John R. Miller was Hearst president and chief executive officer.[49]
  • Frank Bennack served as CEO and president from 1979 to 2002, when he became vice chairman, returning as CEO from 2008 to 2013, and remains executive vice chairman.[50]
  • Victor F. Ganzi served as president and CEO from 2002 to 2008.[51]
  • Steven Swartz has been president since 2012 and CEO since 2013.[52]

Operating group heads

  • David Carey is the current chairman and group head of the magazines.[53] Troy Young is that unit's president.[54]
  • Jeffrey M. Johnson[55] became president of Hearst Newspapers in 2018 upon the promotion of Mark Aldam to executive vice president and chief operating officer of the parent company.[56]


A non-exhaustive list of its current properties and investments includes:



(alphabetical by state, then title)




Trustees of William Randolph Hearst's will

Under William Randolph Hearst's will, a common board of thirteen trustees (its composition fixed at five family members and eight outsiders) administers the Hearst Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and the trust that owns (and selects the 24-member board of) the Hearst Corporation (immediate parent of Hearst Communications which shares the same officers). The foundations shared ownership until tax law changed to prevent this.[61][62]

In 2009, it was estimated to be the largest private company managed by trustees in this way.[63] As of 2017, the trustees are:[64]

Family members

Non-family members

  • James M. Asher, chief legal and development officer of the corporation
  • David J. Barrett, former chief executive officer of Hearst Television, Inc.
  • Frank A. Bennack Jr., former chief executive officer and executive vice chairman of the corporation
  • John G. Conomikes, former executive of the corporation
  • Gilbert C. Maurer, former chief operating officer of the corporation and former president of Hearst Magazines
  • Mark F. Miller, former executive vice president of Hearst Magazines
  • Mitchell Scherzer, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the corporation
  • Steven R. Swartz, president and chief executive officer of the corporation

The trust dissolves when all family members alive at the time of Hearst's death in August 1951 have died.

See also


  1. "Hearst". Forbes. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  2. "The Hearst Corporation". Institute for Media and Communication Policy. October 19, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. Maza, Erik (April 1, 2013). "Hearst's New CEO Steve Swartz Talks Business, Succession". WWD. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  4. "2016 America's Richest Families Net Worth: Hearst Family". Forbes. June 29, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. Kelly, Keith J. (January 6, 2016). "Hearst enjoys record profits, eyes more acquisitions". New York Post. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  6. Nelson, Valerie J. (June 27, 2012). "George Randolph Hearst Jr. dies at 84; L.A. Herald-Examiner publisher". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  7. "Yellow Journalism: William Randolph Hearst". Crucible of Empire: The Spanish–American War. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  8. Evans, Harold (July 2, 2000). "Press Baron's Progress". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  9. Rose, Matthew (April 24, 2003). "Hearst Magazines Manage To Thrive in Tough Market". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  10. Lueck, Therese (1995). Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 492. ISBN 978-0313286315.
  11. Murray, Timothy D.; Mills, Theodora (1986). "Cosmopolitan Book Corporation". In Dzwonkoski, Peter (ed.). American literary publishing houses, 1900-1980. Trade and paperback. Dictionary of literary biography. Detroit: Gale Research Co. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0-8103-1724-6.
  12. F. D'Angelo, Joseph. "William Randolph Hearst and the Comics". Penn State University:Integrative Arts 10. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  13. Kennedy, Thornton. "Hearst family left distinct mark on Atlanta, Buckhead". MDJOnline.com. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  14. Wilson, Mark R.; Porter, Stephen R. & Reiff, Janice L. (2005). "Hearst Newspapers". Encyclopedia of Chicago. ISBN 978-0226310152.
  15. Brian Lamb, presenter; Ben Procter (June 12, 1998). "William Randolph Hearst: The Early Years". Book TV. C-SPAN2. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  16. Landers, James (November 1, 2010). The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0826272331.
  17. Taylor, Michael; Writer, Chronicle Staff (August 7, 1999). "The Reign of S.F.'s `Monarch of the Dailies' / Hearst media empire started with Examiner". SFGate. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  18. Nasaw, David (2001). The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 320–322. ISBN 978-0618154463.
  19. Longworth, Karina (September 24, 2015). "The Mistress, the Magnate, and the Genius". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  20. "Hearst Metrotone News Collection". UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  21. Frank, Dana (June 22, 2000). "The Devil and Mr. Hearst". The Nation.
  22. "The Press: Quiet Deal". Time. August 31, 1959. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  23. "The Last Los Angeles Herald-Examiner Strike". California State University Northridge Oviatt Library. February 3, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  24. Smith, Dinitia (August 16, 1997). "Donald Fine, 75, Publisher Of Suspenseful Best Sellers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  25. "Hearst acquires leading book publisher". United Press International. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  26. "Murdoch, Hearst agree on sale of Boston Herald American". UPI. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  27. Ap (December 22, 1982). "Boston Newspaper Renamed". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  28. Fabrikant, Geraldine (November 9, 1990). "Hearst to Buy 20% ESPN Stake From RJR". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  29. Morrison, Collin (December 23, 2013). "Is the world's first media group now the best?". Flashes & Flames. Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  30. Tharp, Paul (June 18, 1999). "HarperCollins Buys William Morrow & Avon". New York Post. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  31. "Marvel Acquires Cover Concepts to Extend Demographic Reach" (Press release). Marvel Enterprises. December 18, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2018 via Business Wire.
  32. Schneider, Michael (August 27, 2009). "A&E Acquires Lifetime". Variety. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012.
  33. Atkinson, Claire (August 27, 2009). "A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019.
  34. Elliott, Stuart (June 3, 2010). "Google and Hearst Make Digital Acquisitions". Media Decoder Blog. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  35. Steigrad, Alexandra (February 20, 2014). "Hearst Magazines International Makes Digital Hire". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  36. Verrier, Richard (December 11, 2014). "Hearst Corp. buys 25% stake in AwesomenessTV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  37. Eck, Kevin (January 9, 2017). "Hearst Invests in Media Entertainment Production Company". TVSpy. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  38. Littleton, Cynthia (January 6, 2017). "Hearst Acquires Majority Stake in Independent Distributor Litton Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  39. "Hearst buys 145-year-old Pioneer Group from Batdorff family members". Inland Press Association. February 10, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  40. Jones, Harriet (June 6, 2017). "Hearst Media Acquires New Haven Register, Other Digital First Assets". Connecticut Public Radio.
  41. Singer, Stephen (June 5, 2017). "Hearst Acquires New Haven Register, Other Publications". Hartford Courant.
  42. Mueller, Angela (September 1, 2017). "Hearst Acquires Alton Newspaper". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  43. "Hearst Acquires Journal-Courier, Telegraph". Journal-Courier. August 31, 2017.
  44. Wagaman, Andrew (October 18, 2017). "Media giant Hearst will acquire Rodale". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  45. Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (October 18, 2017). "Hearst Agrees to Acquire Rodale Inc., Publisher of Men's Health and Runner's World". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  46. "Hearst Corporation Reassigns Several of Its Top Executives". The New York Times. February 28, 1973. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  47. Hearst, William Randolph, Jr.; Casserly, Jack (1991). The Hearsts: Father and Son. New York: Roberts Rinehart. p. 309-310. ISBN 978-1879373044.
  48. "Frank Massi, Former President of the Hearst Corporation, Dead at 85" (Press release). August 7, 1995. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  49. "A brief history of the Hearst Corporation" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  50. "Frank A. Bennack, Jr". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  51. "Company Overview of Pulte Capital Partners LLC: Executive Profile, Victor F. Ganzi". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  52. "Steven R. Swartz". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  53. Kelly, Keith J. (June 25, 2018). "Hearst magazine boss David Carey stepping down". New York Post. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  54. "Troy Young". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  55. "Jeffrey M. Johnson". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  56. "Mark Adam". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  57. "Sterling, Hearst Renew Agreement". Publishers Weekly. June 23, 2010. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  58. "Hearst Magazines Digital Media and MSN Launch Delish.com" (Press release). Hearst Communications. September 23, 2008.
  59. "Company Profile: Hearst Interactive Media". D&B Hoovers. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013.
  60. "Kaboodle to Merge with StyleSpot" (Press release). September 30, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  61. "About the Hearst Foundations". Hearst Foundations. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  62. "Citizen Bunky: A Hearst family scandal - Nov. 25, 2009". archive.fortune.com. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  63. "Mitchell Scherzer Elected a Trustee of the Hearst Family Trust" (Press release). Retrieved August 28, 2018.

Further reading

  • Carlisle, Rodney. "The Foreign Policy Views of an Isolationist Press Lord: WR Hearst and the International Crisis, 1936-41." Journal of Contemporary History 9.3 (1974): 217-227.
  • Nasaw, David. The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. (2000). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-82759-0., a prominent scholarly biography.
  • Pizzitola, Louis. Hearst over Hollywood: power, passion, and propaganda in the movies (Columbia UP, 2002).
  • Procter, Ben H. William Randolph Hearst: Final Edition, 1911-1951. (Oxford UP 2007).
  • Whyte, Kenneth. The uncrowned king: The sensational rise of William Randolph Hearst (2009).

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