The Daily News – A Book Review

The Daily News is a New York City newspaper published since 1919. It is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the United States, and one of the country’s most influential. Its editorial stance is described as “flexibly centrist,” with a “high-minded, if populist, legacy.”

The newspaper’s current owner is Tronc, formerly Tribune Company. It has an AllSides Media Bias Rating of Left, indicating that it strongly aligns with liberal and progressive thought and policy agendas.

Originally the Illustrated Daily News, the paper became the first successful tabloid in the world when it changed its name in 1919 to the Daily News, and soon had millions of readers captivated with sensational coverage of crime, scandal, and violence and lurid photographs. The News also featured many cartoons and other entertainment features. It competed with the New York Post, whose circulation exceeded that of the Daily News.

At its peak in the mid-20th century, the Daily News was one of the nation’s top-selling newspapers. Its flamboyant personality, however, did not always align with its editorial stance, which was often politically conservative. The News opposed abolition in the 1910s, supported isolationism in the early stages of World War II, and was critical of the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression.

In the early years of the 21st century, the Daily News was one of the few remaining major metropolitan newspapers that still maintained local newsrooms. It was also one of the few that still had a large subscriber base and could attract advertisers, even as its circulation declined.

Its swan song came in 2015, when the paper closed for good, leaving behind thousands of angry and bereft subscribers, as well as dozens of laid-off journalists. This book, written by a former News reporter, is a searching and deeply reported look at what happens when a newspaper dies, and at the societal fallout.

In a time when the future of journalism is being debated at every level of society, Conte’s examination of McKeesport’s attempt to fill in the gaps is a timely and important contribution. He exposes the weaknesses of both traditional top-down journalism and the nascent citizen gatekeepers who have filled in the gap, while suggesting that the answer lies in citizens truly understanding the value of knowing about their community. Death of the Daily News is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of the media today.