Newsweek Sold!

“It was early March 1961.  A young John F. Kennedy was just months into his new presidency, ‘Blue Moon’ by The Marcels was the No. 1 hit on the radio, and The Great Impostor with Tony Curtis had just opened in movie houses.  In New York, Phil Graham, the 45 year-old publisher of the Washington Post, was in Manhattan on business.  He had just written a personal check for $2 million to the Astor Foundation.  The check was earnest money for an $8.9 million block of stock The Post would buy as part of its $15 million deal to acquire Newsweek, then the nation’s second largest weekly news magazine behind Time.  The transaction marked one of those mid-20th century business deals that was changing the newspaper industry and signaling, in part, how big media would take form through the remainder of the century.  For the Washington Post, the acquisition of Newsweek would become a major asset and would help make it become a much bigger and more influential player in news, information, and politics. … [Phil] Graham, for some years, had been an undiagnosed and untreated manic-depressive, and in the early 1960s, his condition worsened.  In August 1963, he took his own life.  The event devastated the Post and was seen as a major loss. Sam Newhouse offered Katharine Graham $100 million for Newsweek, but she wasn’t selling. Gradually, following Phil Graham’s passing, his wife and Eugene Meyer’s daughter, Katharine, also known as Kay by colleagues, assumed the mantle at The Washington Post, including Newsweek.  Two years after her husband’s death, in 1965, Sam Newhouse offered Katharine Graham $100 million for Newsweek, a substantial premium over what Phil Graham had paid of it.  But Katharine Graham wasn’t interested in selling.  She was interested in growing her company.  Along the way, she pumped more money into Newsweek, eventually making it a more robust player in the weekly competition with Time and U.S. News & World Report. During the 1960s, Newsweek distinguished itself from Time by appealing to younger readers and focusing on two big stories of the era: race relations and the Vietnam War.  In July of 1963, Newsweek had already been the first major news magazine to put the face of an unknown black American on its cover.  But in November of 1967, the magazine ran a civil rights cover story and editorial.  Newsweek‘s then-editor Osborn Elliott, would later say the cover story questioned traditional notions of journalistic ‘objectivity,’ calling it the first example advocacy journalism by any major magazine.  In 1968, following the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Newsweek again offered its views, this time calling for de-escalation of the war and eventual U.S. withdrawal. …”
The Pop History Dig
W – Newsweek

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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