- NAME: William Randolph Hearst
- OCCUPATION: Business Leader, Publisher
- BIRTH DATE: April 29, 1863
- DEATH DATE: August 14, 1951
- EDUCATION: Harvard College, St. Paul's School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
- Nickname: "The Chief"
- Full Name: William Randolph Hearst
- AKA: William R. Hearst
- AKA: William Hearst
Best Known For
William Randolph Hearst is best known for publishing the largest chain of American newspapers in the late 19th century, and particularly for sensational "yellow journalism."
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Born in San Francisco, California, on April 29, 1863, William Randolph Hearst used his wealth and privilege to build a massive media empire. A founder of "yellow journalism," he was praised for his success and vilified by his enemies. At one point, he considered running for the U.S. presidency. The Great Depression took a toll on Hearst's company and his influence gradually waned, though his company survived. Hearst died in Beverly Hills, California, in 1951.
"You must keep your mind on the objective, not the obstacle."
"You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."
"Try to be conspicuously accurate in everything, pictures as well as text. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting."
William Randolph Hearst dominated journalism for nearly a half century. Born in San Francisco, California, on April 29, 1863, to George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, young William was taught in private schools and on tours of Europe. He attended Harvard College, where he served as an editor for the Harvard Lampoon before being expelled for misconduct.
While at Harvard, William Randolph Hearst was inspired by the New York World newspaper and its crusading publisher, Joseph Pulitzer. Hearst's father, a California Gold Rush multimillionaire, had acquired the failing San Francisco Examiner newspaper to promote his political career. In 1887, William was granted the opportunity to run the publication. William invested heavily in the paper, upgrading the equipment and hiring the most talented writers of the time, including Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce and Jack London.
As editor, William Randolph Hearst adopted a sensational brand of reporting later known as "yellow journalism," with sprawling banner headlines and hyperbolic stories, many based on speculation and half-truths. About one quarter of the page space was devoted to crime stories, but the paper also conducted investigative reports on government corruption and negligence by public institutions. In a few years, circulation increased and the paper prospered.
With the success of the Examiner, William Randolph Hearst set his sights on larger markets and his former idol, now rival, Joseph Pulitzer. He purchased the New York Morning Journal (formerly owned by Pulitzer) in 1895, and a year later began publishing the Evening Journal. He strove to win the circulation wars by employing the same brand of journalism he had at the Examiner. Competition was fierce, with Hearst cutting the newspaper’s price to one cent. Pulitzer countered by matching that price. Hearst retaliated by raiding the World’s staff, offering higher salaries and better positions. By 1897, Hearst’s two New York papers had bested Pulitzer, with a combined circulation of 1.5 million.
In the last decade of the 19th century, politics came to dominate William Randolph Hearst's newspapers and ultimately reveal his complex political views. While his paper supported the Democratic Party, he opposed the party's 1896 candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan. In 1898, Hearst pushed for war with Spain to liberate Cuba, which the Democrats opposed. Hearst’s own lavish lifestyle insulated him from the troubled masses that he seemed to champion in his newspapers.
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