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Who Won the Newspaper War of 1927? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Lackmeyer   
Saturday, 28 March 2009 04:42


March 29, 2009 – On this week in Oklahoma City history, The Oklahoman reported that for the first time, the paid subscription of The Daily Oklahoman and Oklahoma City Times passed the 150,000 mark when the combined sales reached 150,540.

M.W. Halmbacher, circulation manager, said he believed the circulation was greater than that of any newspaper published in a city of 140,000 in the United States and that it was an accurate barometer of the unprecedented solid business growth in Oklahoma City.

Such bragging rights was a big deal. Radio was still in its infancy, television was years off in the future. Newspapers ruled local news – it was the golden age of print journalism.

The Oklahoman’s competitors in 1927 included The Black Dispatch, The Capital American, the Capitol Hill Beacon, the Daily Record, The Oklahoma News and The Oklahoma Leader.

The Oklahoma News was the one serious competitor, however, and gave The Oklahoman quite a challenge until the paper was shut down a few years later by its owner, the E.W. Scripps.

The city and state had already seen hundreds of newspapers shut down during World War II. Many papers, like the Oklahoma City Times, were taken over by rivals (like The Oklahoman).

Once popular weekly editions of dailies, already declining before the war, tended to disappear from all but the healthiest of markets. By 1926, only 51 daily and 354 weekly newspapers continued publication in Oklahoma. Only nine cities boasted more than one paper, and fifty-two reported more than one weekly paper. Fifteen years later, on the eve of another world war, the sum of newspapers had fallen from 405 to 374 papers (although the number of daily papers increased from 51 to 62).

The number of newspapers published continued to decline following World War II, with most of the loss occurring among weekly publications due to declining rural populations.

By 1961, only 276 papers (including 51 dailies) continued to be published. Twenty-one years later, the total number stood at 203, only slightly more than one-half of the sum in 1926. According to the Oklahoma Press Association, 225 papers are currently being published (177 weekly, and 48 daily papers). These statistics do not include college or university newspaper.

Oklahoma City became a real two-newspaper town again in the 1960s and 1970s with the rise and fall of the Oklahoma Journal. That, however, is a story to be told another time at OKC History. 

- The Oklahoman, April 3, 1927

-  History of Newspapers, the Oklahoma Historical Society

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 April 2009 05:53