William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst

American tycoon and leading newspaper publisher
Date of Birth: 29.04.1863
Country: USA

  1. Biography of William Randolph Hearst
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Journalistic Career
  4. Political Involvement and Personal Life

Biography of William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst was an American magnate and leading newspaper publisher, known as the father of yellow journalism. He engaged in a fierce battle with Joseph Pulitzer for control over the newspaper market, exerting significant influence on politics and politicians. Hearst owned Hearst Castle, a national monument and one of the most expensive private homes in the USA, as well as vast collections of artwork.

William Randolph Hearst

Early Life and Education

William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California. He was the son of George Hearst, a mining engineer and millionaire, and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, an Irish suffragist, feminist, and philanthropist. Hearst's paternal grandfather, a Scottish immigrant, settled in South Carolina in 1766. Hearst attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and then went on to study at Harvard College. He was a member of prestigious fraternities, including Delta Kappa Epsilon, and wrote for the university newspaper, Harvard Lampoon. However, he was expelled for a prank, in which he gifted valuable night vases with his professors' names inscribed inside the pots.

Journalistic Career

In 1887, Hearst took over the management of the San Francisco Examiner, a newspaper his father had acquired in 1880. Hearst coined the inspiring motto "Monarch of the Dailies" for the newspaper, equipped it with the best technology, and collaborated with talented writers of his time, including Mark Twain and Jack London. To increase the newspaper's popularity, Hearst published stories about corruption among financiers and city officials, often attacking companies in which his own family had interests. As a result, the San Francisco Examiner became the most popular newspaper in the area.

In 1895, with financial support from his mother, Hearst bought the struggling New York Morning Journal, which marked the beginning of his fierce competition with Joseph Pulitzer, the owner and publisher of the New York World. Hearst reduced the price of the New York Morning Journal to one cent and used sensational headlines and stories, particularly focusing on crime and pseudoscience, to achieve unprecedented circulation numbers.

Although Hearst's publications were constantly criticized by contemporaries for unreliable sources, fake interviews, and distortion of events, he paid little attention to these accusations. His media empire continued to grow, and by the mid-1920s, he owned a group of 28 publications, including newspapers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Boston. He also published books and magazines for various audiences. However, the Great Depression in 1929 caused him to lose control over his holdings. Even though his business rebounded after World War II, he never regained his former power over readers' minds.

Political Involvement and Personal Life

William Randolph Hearst made unsuccessful attempts to become the mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, and the governor of New York in 1906. During World War I, he opposed American participation in the war and the League of Nations. In the 1930s, he vigorously supported Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies but eventually broke ties with him in 1935. In 1934, Hearst traveled to Berlin to personally interview Adolf Hitler. When news of the Holocaust began to emerge from Nazi-occupied Europe, Hearst, unlike other publishers, prominently featured this information on the front pages and called Kristallnacht a "symbol of national savagery." He was also an active supporter of the creation of a Jewish state.

Hearst passed away on August 14, 1951, at the age of 88, due to a heart attack. The Hearst Corporation, a New York-based media conglomerate, continues to operate to this day. The newspaper magnate was known for his eccentricities in his personal life. Although he had been married to Millicent Veronica Willson since 1903, a former New York chorus girl who bore him five sons, Hearst openly lived in California with actress Marion Davies from around 1919 until his death. He did not divorce Millicent, who eventually became a well-known philanthropist, but they lived separately, and his affair with Marion continued until the end of his life.