The Daily News and Its Most Famous Headline

For nearly a century, Daily News has been New York City’s most influential newspaper. Founded in 1919, the paper is known for its sensational pictorial coverage and willingness to go further than its competitors in pursuit of attention-grabbing headlines. Perhaps no headline is more famous than the one that accompanied Ruth Snyder’s electrocution in 1928: “DEAD!”

In 1975 the Daily News rolled out what was to become its most famous front page: after President Gerald Ford had just vetoed a bankruptcies bail-out for the city, the front page read: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD”. During this period, the paper had started shifting from its longtime conservative lean towards a more flexibly centrist stance.

With its emphasis on celebrity scandals and titillating stories, the Daily News was a major influence on tabloid newspapers in the United States and elsewhere. It also was a pioneer in the use of color photography and in 1948 launched WPIX-TV (Channel 11 in New York), whose call letters were taken from its nickname, “New York’s Picture Newspaper”. The News was also a leading early adopter of the Associated Press wirephoto service and developed a large staff of photographers.

The News had always been a profitable publication, but in the 1980s it began to lose money as its union-related labor costs continued to climb. By 1990 the newspaper was suffering losses of over a million dollars a day and its parent company, the Tribune Company, offered it for sale. The News refused, however, as a move to close the paper would have cost millions in pensions and severance pay for its employees.

After losing more than half a million readers in the first half of 2016, Daily News sought to reposition itself as an important player among the city’s media outlets. The emergence of and massive public interest in the Donald Trump presidential campaign offered the paper an opportunity to do just that. The News went back to its roots, employing a more provocative style and tone and giving the Republican Senator Ted Cruz the middle finger through the Statue of Liberty’s hand, rehashing its most famous headline in the process: “TRUMP TO WORLD: DROP DEAD!”

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