Hearst Communications

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Hearst Communications Inc.
Industry Mass media
Founded March 4, 1887; 131 years ago (1887-03-04)
San Francisco, California, United States
Founder William Randolph Hearst
Key people
Revenue IncreaseUS$10.8 billion (2016)[1]
Owner Hearst family (100%)[2]
Number of employees
20,000 (2016)[1]
Website hearst.com

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

Hearst owns a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, television channels, and television stations, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, 50% of broadcasting firm A&E Networks,[4] and 20% of the sports broadcaster ESPN—the last two both co-owned with The Walt Disney Company.

Despite being better known for the above media holdings, Hearst makes most of its profits in the business information section, where it owns companies including Fitch Ratings, First Databank, and others.[5]

Hearst Commnications 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 found the Los Angeles Examiner in 1903.[8] W.R. Hearst found early success, growing readership for the Examiner from 15,000 in 1887 to over 20 million. [9]

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.[10][11] W.R. Hearst entered the book publishing business in 1913 with the formation of Hearst's International Library.[12] W.R. Hearst began producing film feature in the mid-1910s, creating one of the earliest animation studios: the International Film Service, turning characters from Hearst newspaper strips into film characters.[13]

Hearst established Cosmopolitan Pictures in the early 1920s, distributing his films under the newly created Metro Goldwyn Mayer.[14] In 1929, Hearst and MGM created the Hearst Metrotone newsreels.[15] In 1919, Hearst's book publishing division was renamed Cosmopolitan Book.[12] Hearst saw financial challenges in the early 1920's, during which time he was subsidizing funds from his corporation to fund the construction of San Simeon castle and movie production at Cosmopolitan Productions. This eventually lead to the merger of the magazine Hearst International with Cosmopolitan in 1925.[16]

The golden era

An ad asking automakers to place ads in Hearst chain, noting their circulation

In the 1920s and 1930s, Hearst owned the biggest media conglomerate in the world. Apart from having highly circulated magazines and owning 28 newspapers in 18 major cities from coast to coast (many of them under either the American or Examiner banners), read by one out of four Americans each day, Hearst also began acquiring radio stations to complement his papers.

After purchasing the Atlanta Georgian in 1912 along with 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, followed by the Chicago Herald in 1918 (resulting in the Herald-Examiner) and the Washington Herald in 1922. Beginning in 1921, the company extended its reach, establishing or acquiring the Detroit Times, the Boston Record (turning the Advertiser into a tabloid), the Milwaukee Telegram and Wisconsin News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1921), the Albany Times-Union, the Rochester Journal and American, the Syracuse Telegram and American, the Los Angeles Herald (1922), the Baltimore News and American, the Rochester Post-Express (1923), the San Antonio Light and the New York Mirror (1924). In 1924 he also merged his Milwaukee operations with the Pfister family, owners of The Milwaukee Sentinel. Hearst owned the evening Wisconsin News while the Pfisters kept the Sentinel adding Hearst's features from the now-folded Telegram.

In 1925, Hearst sold the Syracuse Telegram to the owners of the Syracuse Journal, while selling the New York Mirror in 1928. However, he kept overseeing both papers' operations, eventually buying back the Daily Mirror in 1932. In 1927, Hearst acquired the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which he switched with associate Paul Block in exchange for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. That same year he also acquired the Omaha Bee and News. In 1929, Hearst closed the Boston Advertiser (becoming the name for the Sunday American until 1972) and acquired the San Francisco Bulletin merging it with the Call & Post. In late 1931 he also bought the Los Angeles Evening Express, forming the Herald-Express. In 1935, the Baltimore News bought E.W. Scripps' Baltimore Post, creating the Baltimore News-Post.

Retrenching after the Great Depression

The Great Depression hit Hearst hard. Cosmopolitan Book was sold to Farrar and Reinhart in 1931.[12] Hearst was also forced 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 together into the Washington Times-Herald. That year he also bought the Milwaukee Sentinel from 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, also had to merge some of his morning papers into his afternoon papers: the morning Herald-Examiner and the afternoon American into the Herald-American in Chicago in 1939, and in 1937 the Evening Journal and the morning American into the Journal-American in New York, the same year the Omaha Bee-News was sold to the World-Herald. Abandoning the morning market was harmful in the long run for Hearst's media empire as most of his remaining newspapers became afternoon papers. Newspapers in Rochester, Syracuse and Fort Worth were sold off or shut down.

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 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, had to finance the company's money-losing afternoon publications, among those the Los Angeles Herald-Express, the New York Journal-American, and the Chicago American. The latter paper was sold in 1956 to the Chicago Tribune's owners (who continued and later changed it to the tabloid-size Chicago Today in 1969, and closed it in 1974). Hearst also sold the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph (merged with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and the Detroit Times (merged with the Detroit News) in 1960 and the Milwaukee Sentinel (which merged with the afternoon Milwaukee Journal) in 1962 after a lengthy strike, the same year Hearst's L.A. papers - the morning Examiner and the afternoon Herald-Express - were merged into the evening Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. The 1962-63 New York City newspaper strike left Manhattan with no papers for many months, which affected the Journal-American. The Boston Record and the Evening American were merged in 1961 as the Record-American. In 1964, the Baltimore News-Post became the Baltimore News-American.

In 1953 Hearst Magazines bought Sports Afield magazine which it kept until 1999 when it was sold 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.[17]

Beginning in 1965, the Hearst Corporation began recurring Joint Operating Agreements ("JOA"s); the first reached with the DeYoung family, proprietors of the afternoon San Francisco Chronicle, which began to produce a joint Sunday edition with the Examiner, which turned into an evening publication, folding the News-Call-Bulletin. The following year, the Journal-American reached another JOA with another two landmark New York City papers: the Herald-Tribune and Scripps-Howard's World-Telegram and Sun, thus forming 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 Los Angeles papers had led to the sacking of many journalists who went on to stage a 10-year strike in 1967, which ended up accelerating the pace of the company's sinking.

Newspaper shifts

Hearst moved into hardcover publishing by acquiring Arbor House in 1978 and William Morrow and Company in 1981.[18][19]

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, which promptly renamed the paper as The Boston Herald, competing to this day with the Boston Globe).

In 1986, Hearst bought the Houston Chronicle and that year closed the 213-year-old Baltimore News-American after a failed attempt to obtain a JOA with the family publishers of The Baltimore Sun - A.S. Abell Company - which coincidentally sold its 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, the San Antonio Light was shut down after Hearst purchased its rival, the 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.[20] 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.[21]

In 1999, Hearst sold its Avon and Morrow book publishing activities to HarperCollins.[22]

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, the 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.[23]

In 2009, A&E Networks acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services, with Hearst ownership increasing to 42%.[24][25]

In 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer switched to a digital-only format, leaving the Albany Times-Union as the only remaining Hearst paper from its golden age still owned by the company.[citation needed] In 2010, Hearst acquired digital marketing agency iCrossing.[26]

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.[27] That December, DreamWorks Animation sold a 25% stake in AwesomenessTV for $81.25 million to Hearst.[28]

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.[29][30]

On January 23, 2017, Hearst announced that it has 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 operates a digital marketing services business. 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,[31][32] and the Alton, Illinois, Telegraph and Jacksonville, Illinois, Journal-Courier from Civitas Media.[33][34]

In October 2017, Hearst announced it will acquire the magazine and book businesses of Rodale, with some sources reporting the purchase price as about $225 million. The transaction is expected to close in January following government approvals.[35][36]

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.[37] 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.[38]
  • From 1973–1975, Frank Massi, a longtime Hearst financial officer, served as president,[39] during which time he carried out a financial reorganization followed by an expansion program in the late 1970s.
  • From 1975 to 1979, John R. Miller was Hearst president and chief executive officer.[40]
  • 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.
  • Victor F. Ganzi served as president and CEO from 2002 to 2008.
  • Steven Swartz has been president since 2012 and CEO since 2013.


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



(alphabetical by location, 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.[43] As of 2017, the trustees are:[44]

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. ^ a b "Hearst". Forbes. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ "IfM - The Hearst Corporation". Retrieved July 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ Maza, Erik (April 1, 2013). "Hearst's New CEO Steve Swartz Talks Business, Succession". Retrieved July 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Hearst family". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Keith J. (2016-01-06). "Hearst enjoys record profits, eyes more acquisitions". New York Post. Retrieved 2016-11-04. 
  6. ^ Times, By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles. "George Randolph Hearst Jr. dies at 84; L.A. Herald-Examiner publisher". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  7. ^ (www.msidg.com), Dov B. Katz & The Morningside Internet Group, Inc. "Crucible of Empire - PBS Online". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  8. ^ Times, By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles. "George Randolph Hearst Jr. dies at 84; L.A. Herald-Examiner publisher". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  9. ^ "Press Baron's Progress". archive.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  10. ^ Rose, Matthew (24 April 2003). "Hearst Magazines Manage To Thrive in Tough Market". Retrieved 16 July 2018. 
  11. ^ Lueck, Therese (1995). Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines. Greenwood Publishing Group. 
  12. ^ a b c Murray, Timothy D.; Mills, Theodora (1986). "Cosmopolitan Book Corporation". In Peter Dzwonkoski (ed.). American literary publishing houses, 1900-1980. Trade and paperback. Dictionary of literary biography. Detroit, Mich: Gale Research Co. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0-8103-1724-6. 
  13. ^ "William Randolph Hearst and the Comics". www.psu.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  14. ^ Longworth, Karina (2015-09-24). "The Mistress, the Magnate, and the Genius". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  15. ^ "Hearst Metrotone News Collection | UCLA Film & Television Archive". www.cinema.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  16. ^ Landers, James (2010-11-01). The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 9780826272331. 
  17. ^ "Quiet Deal," Time Magazine, August 31, 1959.
  18. ^ Smith, Dinitia (1997-08-16). "Donald Fine, 75, publisher of suspenseful best sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  19. ^ "Hearst acquires leading book publisher". UPI. Retrieved 2018-05-28. 
  20. ^ GERALDINE FABRIKANT (November 9, 1990). "Hearst to Buy 20% ESPN Stake From RJ". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Is the world's first media group now the best?". Flashes & Flames. 
  22. ^ Tharp, Paul (1999-06-18). "HARPERCOLLINS BUYS WILLIAM MORROW & AVON". New York Post. Retrieved 2018-05-28. 
  23. ^ "Marvel Acquires Cover Concepts to Extend Demographic Reach" (Press release). Marvel Enterprises. December 18, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2018 – via Business Wire. 
  24. ^ "A&E Acquires Lifetime]". Variety. August 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ "A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media LLC. August 27, 2009. 
  26. ^ Elliott, Stuart (June 3, 2010). "Google and Hearst Make Digital Acquisitions". Media Decoder. 
  27. ^ Steigrad, Alexandra (February 20, 2014). "Hearst Magazines International Makes Digital Hire". WWD. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  28. ^ Verrier, Richard (December 11, 2014). "Hearst Corp. buys 25% stake in AwesomenessTV". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times Media Group. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Hearst Invests in Media Entertainment Production Company". TVSpy. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  30. ^ "Hearst Acquires Majority Stake in Independent Distributor Litton Entertainment". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  31. ^ media-newspaper-llc-including-the-new-haven-register Hearst Acquires Print, Digital, and Local Media Assets of 21st Century Media Newspaper LLC, Including the New Haven Register
  32. ^ Hearst Acquires New Haven Register, Other Publications
  33. ^ Hearst Acquires the Print and Digital Assets of the Telegraph and Journal-Courier
  34. ^ Hearst Acquires Journal-Courier, Telegraph
  35. ^ Wagaman, Andrew (October 18, 2017). "Media giant Hearst will acquire Rodale". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2017-10-21. 
  36. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2017-10-18). "Hearst Agrees to Acquire Rodale Inc., Publisher of Men's Health and Runner's World". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-10-21. 
  37. ^ [1]
  38. ^ Hearst Jr. William Randolph and Jack Casserly. The Hearsts: Father and Son. New York: Roberts Rinehart, 1991.
  39. ^ [2]
  40. ^ "A brief history of the Hearst Corporation" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  41. ^ Sterling, Hearst Renew Agreement
  42. ^ "Company Profile: Hearst Interactive Media". Hoovers.com. 
  43. ^ [3]
  44. ^ [4]

External links

  • Official website
  • The Hearst Foundation, Inc.
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