The Daily News Is Going Out of Business

In its 20th century heyday, the Daily News was a brawny metro tabloid that thrived by digging into crime and corruption. The paper that counted Clark Kent and Lois Lane among its staff won Pulitzer Prizes in commentary and international reporting. Its headquarters, designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, is an official city and national landmark at 220 East 42nd Street, now the site of a new high-rise apartment tower called One Vanderbilt Place (though the News building also served as the model for The Daily Planet in the first two Superman films). In its later years, the News moved to 450 West 33rd Street (also known as Manhattan West) and to the current location at 4 New York Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

Founded in 1919, the New York Daily News was the first successful tabloid newspaper in the United States and reached its peak circulation in 1947 at about 2.4 million copies a day. Its editorial stance was usually moderate to liberal, often contrasted with the right-wing New York Post.

By 2016, the News was struggling financially, and its owner, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, slashed staffing and other costs to keep the paper solvent. In 2017, the newspaper relaunched itself as an anti-Trump counterweight to the Post and won critical praise for its hard-hitting coverage. However, in January 2016 the News provoked outrage when it ran a front-page headline declaring, “GOD ISn’T FIXING THIS” after Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz disparaged New York values with a comment about “thoughts and prayers” following the San Bernardino shooting.

The News’s new editor in chief, Robert York, has said that the paper will focus on local news and community engagement. The Daily News is still a major competitor in New York City and has a large readership around the country, particularly on social media, where it posts frequently and enjoys strong engagement.

But the Daily News’s future remains uncertain. The newspaper has not yet decided whether it will continue to be published in print, and a number of other newspapers that once dominated the metro tabloid category are now struggling to survive. As a result, some observers are pessimistic about the prospects for the industry and have begun calling it the “news desert phenomenon.”

But there are signs of hope. Some small, independent publishers are starting to see opportunities for local journalism in the wake of larger, national publications pulling back from print. And a few publishers are starting to experiment with different models for covering their hometowns, focusing on neighborhood-specific news, housing and real estate, education, and even the resurgence of the city’s food and entertainment scene in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Death of the Daily News is a rich, fascinating and necessary anatomy of what happens when a community loses its newspaper—and how some people are trying to rebuild. This is a story that should be read by anyone who cares about the state of the media in America.