U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

end of header


You are here: Census.govHistoryHome Page Archive2018 › April 2018
Skip top of page navigation


April 2018

Visit https://www.census.gov/history every month for the latest Census History Home Page!

U.S. Census Bureau History: William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst was born April 29, 1863.
Hearst developed his media empire into the nation's largest
newspaper chain and he continues to influence American journalism
today—more than 6 decades since his death.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Legendary newspaper publisher and politician William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863. With the help of his wealthy father George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst created one of the largest newspaper and media companies in the world.

Hearst's career as a media mogul began 2 years after his expulsion from Harvard University. George Hearst gave William control of the San Francisco Examiner, which the elder Hearst had received years earlier as payment for a gambling debt. The Examiner—the self-proclaimed "Monarch of the Dailies"—quickly dominated the market after Hearst acquired equipment and hired nationally known writers and cartoonists (including Mark Twain and Jack London). The paper became widely known for its no-holds-barred journalism exposing corruption and scandal leaving readers anxious for the publication of each new edition.

Understanding that any successful media empire required a presence in New York City, Hearst purchased the failing New York Morning Journal in 1895. He hired nationally-known writers Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne (son of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne) to boost subscribers. He openly feuded with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and hired members of Pulitzer's writing and cartoon staff for his own paper. The two media moguls fought for subscribers with advertising and promotions, eye-catching headlines, and sensational, often sex-tinged stories that many other papers refused to print. It was not until both papers lost huge sums of money covering the Spanish-American War that the two publishers agreed to a truce.

By 1915, Hearst media had grown to include newspapers in Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, and Boston, MA, as well as an animation studio and a news wire service. At its peak in the late 1920s, Hearst's news empire published dozens of newspapers and periodicals like Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan, and owned radio stations, syndication rights to nationally-known comics and news columns, and an animation studio (International Film Services) established to develop features based on the Hearst newspapers' comic strips.

In addition to heading a media empire, William Randolph Hearst served two terms in Congress (1903–1907) representing New York's 11th Congressional District. He had a keen interest in aviation, sponsoring aviators, flight prizes, and an around-the-world zeppelin flight; and part of his collection of fine and decorative arts are displayed at Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, CA—the publisher's residence until retiring to a home in Beverly Hills, CA that was closer to medical attention.

William Randolph Hearst died in Beverly Hills, CA, on August 14, 1951, following a series of illnesses. Upon hearing of Hearst death, Hugh Baillie, president of the United Press Association wrote in the Los Angeles Times that, "One of the great figures of journalism has gone from among us. But the newspaper empire he created lives as a memorial to his genius. [He] originated many of the forms of daily publishing which now are familiar to all. His life and career are a conspicuous part of the history of our times."

You can learn more about William Randolph Hearst and the nation's newspaper industry using census data and records. For example:

  • The Census Bureau collected its first data on the nation's 254 daily newspapers in 1850 as part of the census of manufactures. Three years after William Randolph Hearst took over management of the San Francisco Examiner, the 1890 Census reported there were 1,610 daily newspapers published in the United States. Hearst purchased the New York Morning Journal in 1895, and in that decade, the number of daily newspapers rose from 1,610 in 1890 to 2,226 in 1900. The number of daily newspapers peaked in 1909 at 2,600. When Hearst died in 1951, there were 2,018 newspapers published daily and 10,514 weekly newspapers in print.
  • William Randolph Hearst's fought a bitter publishing rivalry with Joseph Pulitzer and his New York World newspaper. Pulitzer bequeathed money to Columbia University to establish the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The university awarded the first Pulitzer Prizes Link to a non-federal Web site in journalism in 1917. In later years, the university added awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for literature, poetry, history, music, and drama. Notable recipients of the Pulitzer Prize include: Robert Frost (Poetry), William Faulkner (fiction), John Updike (fiction), Tennessee Williams (drama), and Aaron Copland (music).
  • In 1890, William Randolph Hearst and his San Francisco Examiner sponsored "The Examiner's Census Competition." Anyone who purchased a 1-year subscription to the newspaper between April 1 and June 30, and accurately guessed the population for one of 19 West Coast cities and the United States at the time of the 1890 Census could win a prize. Prizes valued at more than $75,000 included livestock, farming and mining equipment, land, a race horse, and a house in San Francisco, CA.
  • William Randolph Hearst was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives twice (D-NY, 1903–1907). In 1904, he was unsuccessful in his campaign to win the Democratic nomination for president when convention delegates instead chose Alton B. Parker. (Parker later lost the election to Theodore Roosevelt.) Hearst was also unsuccessful in bids to become Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, losing to George B. McClellan, Jr., and William Jay Gaynor, respectively. Charles Evans Hughes defeated Hearst in New York's 1906 gubernatorial election.
  • In 1941, Orson Welles debuted his first feature film, Citizen Kane, which was partly based on Hearst's life. The film earned Academy Award nominations in nine categories including Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. It won the Oscar for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
  • Hearst died in Beverly Hills, CA, on August 14, 1951, and is buried at the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA. His mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Simeon, CA, joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and became a United States National Historic Landmark in 1976.
  • According to data collected by the economic census, the number of establishments primarily engaged in publishing and/or broadcasting content on the Internet, exclusively, or operating Web sites that use a search engine to generate and maintain databases of Internet addresses and content in an easily searchable format grew from 3,813 in 2007 to 6,936 in 2012—an 81.9 percent increase.
  • In 2012, there were 7,663 daily, weekly, and periodic newspaper publishing establishments in the United States employing 234,245 people. California led the nation with 605 newspaper publishing establishments, followed by Texas (510), and New York (438).

Examiner-Chronicle joint edition following 1906 Earthquake

The April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, damaged or destroyed the offices of William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner and those of his rivals.
One day after the quake, the Examiner published a joint special edition about the disaster with the San Francisco Call and San Francisco Chronicle,
using the Oakland Tribune's printing presses.

The San Francisco Examiner operated out of temporary quarters until moving into the newly constructed Hearst Building Link to a non-federal Web site in 1911.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Journalism Jobs

George W. Bush Press Conference
View larger image

The rapid growth of digital information sharing has affected few industries as much as newspaper publishing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that newspaper publishing employed approximately 458,000 people in June 1990.

The industry's employment fell to about 412,000 in 2001 and just 174,000 in September 2016.

In contrast, employment in the Internet publishing and search portal industry rose from 67,000 in January 2007 to 206,000 in September 2016.

Photo of President George W. Bush addressing reporters on September 13, 2001, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Did You Know?

William Randolph Hearst was the son of George Hearst, a wealthy miner, businessman, and U.S. Senator from California.

George Hearst arrived in California 1 year after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1849.

Hearst survived off gold prospecting for 10 years before making his fortune on Comstock Lode silver in the Utah Territory, the Ophir mine in present day Nevada, and stakes in significant silver-producing mines in New Mexico and South Dakota.

This Month in Census History

George Takei
View larger image

On April 5, 2010, Star Trek and Heroes actor George Takei took part in a press conference that urged the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender population to participate in the 2010 Census.

The press conference coincided with the release of a public service announcement in which Takei and his partner encouraged same-sex couples to complete the 2010 Census questionnaire.

Visit https://www.census.gov/history every month for the latest Census History Home Page!

[PDF] or PDF denotes a file in Adobe’s Portable Document Format. To view the file, you will need the Adobe® Reader® Off Site available free from Adobe. This symbol Off Site indicates a link to a non-government web site. Our linking to these sites does not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or the information found on them. Once you link to another site you are subject to the policies of the new site.
  Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes    Thumbs Down Image No
No, thanks
255 characters remaining
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?
Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: December 08, 2021