November 25, 2014 front page of the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
|Format||Compact (March 23, 2009)|
December 12, 1878|
by Joseph Pulitzer
900 North Tucker Boulevard|
St. Louis, Missouri 63101
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the major regional newspaper in St. Louis, Missouri, serving St. Louis City and County, St. Charles County, the Metro East and surrounding counties (roughly, the Greater St. Louis area). It is the only daily newspaper in the city. The publication has received 18 Pulitzer Prizes.
On April 10, 1907, Pulitzer wrote what became known as the paper's platform:
I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.
In 1878, Joseph Pulitzer purchased the bankrupt St. Louis Dispatch at a public auction and merged it with the St. Louis Evening Post to create the St. Louis Post and Dispatch, whose title was soon shortened to its current form. He appointed John A. Cockerill as the managing editor. Its first edition, 4,020 copies of four pages each, appeared on Dec. 12, 1878.
In 1882, James Overton Broadhead ran for US Congress against John Glover. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, at Cockerill's direction, ran a number of articles questioning Broadhead's role in a lawsuit between a gaslight company and the city; Broadhead never responded to the charges. Broadhead's friend and law partner, Alonzo W. Slayback, publicly defended Broadhead, asserting that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was nothing more than a "blackmailing sheet." The next day, 13 Oct 1882, Cockerill re-ran an offensive "card" by John Glover that the paper had published the prior November (Nov. 11, 1881). Incensed, Slayback barged into Cockerill's offices at the paper demanding an apology. Cockerill shot and killed Slayback; he claimed self-defense, and a pistol was allegedly found on Slayback's body. A grand jury refused to indict Cockerill for murder, but the economic consequences for the paper were severe. Therefore, in May 1883, Pulitzer sent Cockerill to New York to manage the New York World for him.
The Post-Dispatch was one of the first daily newspapers to print a comics section in color, on the back page of the features section, styled the "Everyday Magazine."
After his retirement, generations of Pulitzers guided the newspaper, ending when great-grandson Joseph Pulitzer IV left the company in 1995.
The Post-Dispatch was characterized by a liberal editorial page and columnists, including Marquis Childs. The editorial page was noted also for political cartoons by Daniel R. Fitzpatrick, who won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and Bill Mauldin, who won the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 1959.
Several months prior to the anniversary edition, the newspaper published a 63rd anniversary tribute to "Our Own Oddities", a lighthearted feature that ran from 1940 to 1990.
In 1950, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sent a reporter to Brazil to cover the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The reporter paid for his own travelling expenses and was the only U.S. reporter in all of Brazil covering the event.
In 1959 the St. Louis Globe-Democrat entered into a joint operating agreement with the Post-Dispatch. The Post-Globe operation merged advertising, printing functions and shared profits. The Post-Dispatch, distributed evenings, had a smaller circulation than the Globe-Democrat, a morning daily. The Globe-Democrat folded in 1983, leaving the Post-Dispatch as the only daily newspaper in the region.
On Jan.13, 2004, the Post-Dispatch published a 125th anniversary edition, which included some highlights of the paper's 125 years:
On Jan. 31, 2005, Michael Pulitzer announced the sale of Pulitzer, Inc. and all its assets, including the Post-Dispatch and a small share of the St. Louis Cardinals, to Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, for $1.46 billion. He said no family members would serve on the board of the merged company.
On March 12, 2007, the paper eliminated 31 jobs, mostly in its circulation, classified phone rooms, production, purchasing, telephone operations and marketing departments. Several rounds of layoffs have followed.
On May 4, 2012, the Post-Dispatch named a new editor, Gilbert Bailon.
In 2015, the paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for its coverage of protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Circulation dropped for the daily paper from 213,472 to 191,631 to 178,801 for the two years after 2010, ending on September 30, 2011, and September 30, 2012. The Sunday paper also decreased from 401,427 to 332,825 to 299,227. The circulation as of September 30, 2016 was 98,104 daily and 157,543 Sunday.
According to a 2017 press release from Lee Enterprises, the paper reaches more than 792,600 readers each week and stltoday.com has roughly 67 million page views a month.
On Feb. 11, 1901, the paper introduced a front-page feature called the "Weatherbird", a cartoon bird accompanying the daily weather forecast. "Weatherbird" is the oldest continuous cartoon in the United States today. Created by Harry B. Martin who drew it through 1903, it has since been drawn by Oscar Chopin (1903-1910); S. Carlisle Martin (1910-1932); Amadee Wohlschlaeger (1932-1981); Albert Schweitzer, the first one to draw the Weatherbird in color (1981-1986); and Dan Martin (1986-present).