portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

media criticism

PART TWO OF A THREE PART SERIES: “The BOregonian Bamboozle: the Newhouse Clan of New York

This furtive and sinister dynasty did not just enter the Portland journalist scene, during the early 80s, from New Yorker new money. As we will see in the second part of this expose´, their suffocating presence on American publishing started quite early.
This furtive and sinister dynasty did not just enter the Portland journalist scene, during the early 80s, from New Yorker new money. As we will see in the second part of this expose´, their suffocating presence on American publishing started quite early. This same publishing dynasty started around the time that the Hearst and the Pulitzer dynasties began their massive conglomerations in the States. It was during this time around 1910 that the phrase, "yellow journalism," began to be used: meaning tainted journalism.
In 1911, two brothers from a wealthy family, of recent immigrants from Germany, Samuel and Norman Newhouse, were able to buy out a failing paper in the industrial city of Bayonne, New Jersey. Bayonne faces New York City directly from the Hudson River. It was during the stock market flurry of the 1920s that the Newhouse bullies began to make their moves into New York City. The second paper that they bought was the Staten Island Advance. This attack into the New York scene attracted the attention of Hearst Publishers, and they worked out a deal where Newhouse Publishers could buy both the papers of Syracuse, in upstate New York (this happened in the 1930s). The two papers were the Syracuse Herald and the Syracuse Journal; thus began the infamous Newhouse style of buying out the two papers of the city, folding the weaker one, and controlling the stronger one to thereby have a monopoly on most news and information allowed to local citizens. The "new and improved" Newhouse paper appropriately had the title of the Syracuse Herald-Journal. Further hustling, moved the Newhouses into other northern New Jersey papers: buying both the Jersey City Journal and the Newark Star Ledger. During World War II, for some mysterious reason, there was not much movement into other areas of publishing.
In the 1950s, the Newhouse clan advanced into national newspaper ownership and into magazine publishing. They were able to purchase the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and Conde´ Nast Travel Magazine. From St. Louis, they moved into New Orleans, buying out the main paper in town, the Times Picayune (1962). The Newhouses were on to the medium to high-density American cities and were going for their cherished monopoly.
It was in the 1980s, under their sons, Steve and Donald Newhouse, that the nightmare was realized. In the late 70s, they obtained the Long Island Press, the chief news source for suburban New York. In 1980, they purchased Random House Inc., one of the largest book publishing outfits in the world (their headquarters conveniently located in New York). Meanwhile, they franchised various T.V. stations in the States and sold them to another Publishing-Media monster, Times-Mirror (which would later become the infamous Time-Warner-AOL of the 1990s, and which now runs CBS News Service). They also shut down the New Orleans States-Item and merged it with the Times Picayune. They bought out both the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Press, shutting down the Press and "merging" it with the Plain Dealer. In 1982, they moved on to Portland, acquiring both the Oregonian and the Portland Oregon Journal. Of course, they utilized the same nasty method, closing down the Journal, and concentrating their power at the Oregonian (the situation we are in right now, as of writing this article). They began to smother other magazine and light book publishing, buying Vanity Fair, and in 1985 a controversial purchase of the independent New Yorker magazine; then moving on to Fodor Travel Guides, Schoken Books, the Crown Publishing Group, Advance Publications, and even buying Times Books from the Sulzbergers of the N.Y. Times. If money loses were too great, they had no problems in closing down or selling at inflated prices, other outfits, such as Mademoiselle magazine and the Syracuse Herald Tribune. Now the Newhouse Monopoly owns over 30 international newspapers (a few papers in Great Britain) and over 30 magazines. They also are on the boards of New York's Lincoln Center Concert Hall, the N.Y. Public Library, which it shares with some other interesting characters, such as the Catholic Archdiocese of New York! They run the Religion News Service (when checking out their website, I noticed that it was filled with Christian and Jewish right wing rant, the Muslim perspective was noticeably missing in their coverage; maybe this explains the anti-Palestinian/fanatical Zionist bent of the Oregonian). The Newhouses control a slew of cable T.V. stations around the US. I should list most of the newspapers and magazines that they run (this should be fun for readers when they pass those hordes of magazine and newspaper racks in airports and in coffee snack shops of downtown).
The other list is: Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Birmingham News, Bridgetown News (NJ) Express Times (NY) Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Muskegon Chronicle, Patriot News (NE) Huntsville Times, Mobile Register, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Mississippi Press, Saginaw News, The Republican (MA) Today's Sunbeam; magazines: Lucky, Allure, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Wired, Cargo, Glamour, GQ, Bon Appetit, Architectural Digest, Parade, Sunday Newspaper Supplement, Self, Modern Bride, House and Garden, Gourmet.
In all, this is only the façade of the Newhouse Empire. Fortune magazine lists the Newhouses as #44 of the world's richest people, total known liquid assets go to around 5 billion dollars in revenue (this is only the acknowledged sum) with various corporate tax breaks, tax shelters (through their "generous cultural philanthropy") undisclosed inheritance revenue (untaxed) and US government welfare money, or "subsidies," that are routinely shelved out to fast moving US based multinationals, who knows how much the Newhouses really possess. Can the Oregonian, in all its hypocrisy, still proclaim itself to be Portland's "hometown paper"? Part 3, will focus on some of the hidden controversy and shady business practices surrounding the Newhouse owners.