One of New Jersey's great institutions,
The Newark News, founded in 1873 by Wallace Scudder, and operated
by the Scudder family for most of its life, died on August 31, 1972.
It had been for most of the 20th century until its demise, the
newspaper of record in New Jersey and a highly respected news medium
that wielded considerable political power and ranked with the country's
To many, myself included, the Newark News was "The New York
Times of New Jersey" and a publishing institution that dominated
the State's publishing scene.
Before I go into what the Newark News was about, I'd like to go
into its death, because this era looms freshest in my memory.
The beginning of the end came as the 98-year old paper was already
falling into a sharp decline, circulation wise, for the first time
in its history being surpassed in both daily and Sunday circulation
by the Newark Star-Ledger.
The 'clincher' was in February 1971 when the newsroom, which had
never been (union) organized, voted to go out on strike. They walked
out in May 1971.
It took until April 1972 for the strike to be settled, and for
the News to resume publication.
But by then it was too late.
The paper's owners, Media General, which had bought the paper
two years earlier from the founding Scudder family, had already
sold the Sunday News, along with its presses, to the Star-Ledger.
The sale to Media General in 1970 had been made by Edward M. Scudder
and Richard Scudder as co-owners. Edward was president. Richard
During the lengthy strike, many of the Newark News top staffers
had found jobs or were lured to jobs elsewhere. Longtime News readers
had gotten used to the Star-Ledger for their daily news needs, and
many large advertisers had opted for keeping their ads with what
seemed like a more reliable Star-Ledger, which by now had a huge
daily circulation of over 400,000.
News Printed at Ledger
From the time of the Newark News strike settlement in April 1972
until the paper ceased publication on August 31, 1972, the daily
editions of the Newark Evening News were printed on Star-Ledger
presses. And now "The Gray Lady on Market Street" was
An Intimate Look at News Operations
The News, under the founding Scudder family, for 96 of its 98-year
life, was a great place to work and attracted and developed some
of the finest journalists of its era.
Its coverage was statewide, and it had dozens of news bureaus
scattered throughout the state, with local staffers on the scene,
a large Trenton bureau in the State Capital before other New Jersey
papers ever got to Trenton, and a bureau in Washington, D. C.
As a political paper, the News wielded enormous influence. As
one longtime News political reported recalled in these snippets
from a memoir, the News was "...a very well done paper...(but)
they were arrogant...they thought they owned the State...they thought
they could tell the Governor what to do...they were basically liberal
The News Classifieds
As the State's most widely circulated paper, both daily and Sunday,
over the years it had the most widely consulted advertising section
for those seeking employment in North Jersey.
It had staff of seasoned and respected sports writers...its editorials
carried punch...and its longtime editorial cartoonist was a Pulitzer
Prize winner. Its news coverage was high in quality and widely trusted.
A published report2
in 1985, more than a decade after its demise, recalled the News
as still the standard against which all New Jersey newspapers are
measured. Such was its legacy.
The report went on to say its arts coverage was "corny and
provincial"...that it loved animal stories and would play "lost
dog" stories on its front pages...that it considered highway
accidents as "big news."
I got to know their military writer Warren Harry Kennett3
in the late 1930s when I encountered him regularly at the Essex
Troop Armory where I covered polo matches for the Star-Ledger for
several seasons. The Essex Troop team was always the host team.
Salary wise, the News was not a great payer, though their stringers,
I knew from my own experience, got twice as much per column inch
for their stories as the Ledger paid. Many News reporters generously
padded their expense accounts and this practice was generally accepted
and even protected4.
News Attitude Toward Big Happenings
The News had a passion for all-out coverage on disasters and would
dispatch teams of reporters and photographers at almost any hour
to a nearby train wreck or plane crash for comprehensive on-the-scene
It also dispatched reporters to national and international happenings.
It even dispatched its reporters to the battle areas during World
War II. They usually hit the battle zones with "Anyone here
from New Jersey?"
Many Newark News staffers saw the other side of World War II as
servicemen, writing for the Army's GI European newspaper, Stars
and Stripes5. One
News staffer wound up on the Army News Service, which used to send
me weekly news packets when I edited Army newspapers at overseas
Newark News Still Lives - at Newark Library
The voluminous records of the Newark News -- the newspaper of
record in New Jersey -- are still alive and serving New Jersey residents
and researchers in the New Jersey Information Center of the Newark
The Newark Public Library, under a grant from the National Endowment
for the Humanities, gained possession of the Newark News morgue,
including ancillary materials -- reporter's notes, etc -- and has
made nearly all of the collection available on microfilm.
The Newark News files are ranked as one of the most important
historical resources in the State of New Jersey, and a major contribution
to the study and preservation of New Jersey history.
Some Distinguished Newark News Alumni
- Howard Garis, reporter, who created the Uncle Wiggily character
as a News reporter. His Uncle Wiggily books later sold in the
millions, and the Wiggily character appeared daily in the News
for nearly four decades. He also wrote the first 32 volumes in
the Tom Swift series, which he wrote under the pen name of Victor
- Lillian McNamara (Garis). The first woman reporter on the News,
she met and married a fellow News reporter, Howard Garis. She
helped launch the Bobbsey Twins series and wrote some of the early
- Richard Reeves, writer for the News from 1963 to 1965. Then
one year at the Herald Tribune and on to the New York Times as
Chief Political Correspondent. His best-selling books included
"President Kennedy: Profile of Power" (1993), and President
Nixon: Alone in the White House" (2001).
- Arthur Sylvester, who headed the Newark News bureau in Washington,
D. C., who in 1960 joined the Kennedy administration as Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
- George Oslin, leading reporter, who later became Public Relations
head of Western Union, and in 1933 invented the Singing Telegram.
- Lute Pease, News editorial cartoonist and winner of the 1949
Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning6.
- John T. Cunningham7,
reporter and feature writer for the Newark News, currently president
of the New Jersey Historical Society and widely recognized as
the State historian. He has written the definitive book on Newark's
history ("Newark" 1966, N. J. Historical Society) and
a score of books and hundreds of articles on New Jersey.
- Willie Ratner, nationally-acclaimed boxing writer for the News
for nearly 50 years8.
- Joseph Katz, ten years a reporter at the News, who left to
become press secretary to New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes during
his two terms. He'd cut his newspaper-reporting teeth at the Dorf
Feature Service (of which I was a founding member in 1938) as
a stringer for Kearny High School.
- Charley Bowers, editorial cartoonist in the 1930s. Before joining
the Newark News, Bowers had done editorial cartoons for The Jersey
Journal, The Chicago Star, and The Chicago Tribune. In earlier
careers, he had been a circus performer (at age 6), a jockey,
had acted in silent films, toured vaudeville, and directed plays.
He had also written, produced, and directed about 300 Mutt and
Jeff animated cartoons between 1916 and 1926, released nationally.
The stately gray building at 215 Market Street, in which the news
happenings of the city, county, state, and world were daily assembled
and printed, is today again bustling with life as The Renaissance
Towers, a Downtown Newark apartment and condominium complex, which
was recently renovated.